Posts Tagged ‘Audi Sports’
Mattias Ekström of Audi and EKS won the season opener at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship
The 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship could not have been off to a better start from Audi and EKS’s point of view. The season opener at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya saw Mattias Ekström triumph. In the final, the reigning world champion relegated Timo Scheider (D) and Andreas Bakkerud (N) to positions two and three. This victory immediately puts Ekström back at top of the drivers’ standings. In the teams’ classification, team world champions EKS are in the top spot tied on points with Team PSRX Volkswagen Sweden.
The start to the season’s first race weekend had ups and downs in store for Ekström and his teammates, Toomas Heikkinen (FIN) and Reinis Nitišs (LV). “Saturday was incredibly difficult,” says Ekström. “The weather situation kept changing – sun, rain, sun, rain … In rallycross with its many single races, that’s extremely complicated – at one time you have an advantage and others a disadvantage.” Ekström caught a rain shower in his second race and at the end of day one was only in position eleven of the overall classification. Heikkinen had better luck. The Finn did the best job of coping with the changeable conditions and was leading after day one.
On Sunday, the prerequisites changed. In bright sunshine and on a dry track, Ekström was able to fully use the strengths of his 560-HP Audi S1 EKS RX quattro and at the end of the four qualifying sessions was trailing Timo Scheider in second place. For the semi-finals of the twelve best drivers, Heikkinen (P7) and Nitišs (P10) qualified as well. However, both EKS campaigners were eliminated in the penultimate session. Ekström on the other hand dominated the action, took the top spot after having started from pole position and in the final prevailed with a lights-to-flag victory as well. “All in all, it was a terrific weekend,” says Ekström. “I won at Barcelona in 2016, and now I did it again. My whole team did a fantastic job and we scored important points for both classifications.”
EKS will be traveling from Barcelona some 1,000 kilometers to Montalegre in Portugal to prepare for round 2 of the World Rallycross Championship on April 21–23. Ekström still has a score to settle with the shortest track on the calendar. Last year, following a collision in the semi-final, the 38-year-old had to bury his hopes for victory early.
2017 FIA World RX – round 1, Barcelona – results of final
1 Mattias Ekström (S) 4m 32.260s
2 Timo Scheider (D) +0.362s
3 Andreas Bakkerud (N) +1.868s
4 Petter Solberg (N) +2.625s
5 Timmy Hansen (S) +3.251s
6 Johan Kristoffersson (S) +3.976s
Drivers’ standings, 2017 FIA World RX (after 1 of 12 rounds)
1 Mattias Ekström (S) 29 points
2 Timo Scheider (D) 26 points
3 Andreas Bakkerud (N) 22 points
4 Johan Kristoffersson (S) 21 points
5 Petter Solberg (N) 19 points
6 Timmy Hansen (S) 17 points
Reinis Nitišs (Audi S1 EKS RX quattro #15) in the FIA World Rallycross Championship
The fourth season of the FIA World Rallycross Championship is coming up. Twelve events on three continents are on the calendar this year, kicked off by the round at Barcelona on April 1 and 2, which marks a premiere in several respects. It will be the first race in which EKS receives factory support from Audi. The reigning world champion will be fielding three Audi S1 EKS RX quattro cars for the first time. Plus, Barcelona will be the venue of the season opener for the first time.
Mattias Ekström is looking forward to the race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with confidence. “Last week, we did another three-day test in France and are entering the season superbly prepared,” says the Swede, who is both a driver and the team boss at EKS. “I’m very happy with the development work that was done in winter and our aim for this season is clear: we’d like to win the drivers’ and teams’ titles in the FIA World Rallycross Championship again this year.”
The rallycross track at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is located in the stadium section of the circuit and includes two super-fast corners included in Formula 1 races as well – albeit in the opposite direction. It is one of the few tracks with very fast initial corners on tarmac, plus many flat-out sections. “Thinking about last year puts a grin on my face,” says Ekström. At Barcelona, the Swede celebrated his fourth victory of the season in 2016 and laid the foundation for his subsequent world championship win. The basis for the success has been the 560 hp Audi S1 EKS RX quattro, which was technically modified once again for this season.
The FIA World Rallycross Championship will be broadcast live in 180 countries. Each Sunday of the total of twelve events the channels are going to air a two-hour show with interviews, background reports and the highlights of all four qualifying sessions, plus live footage of the semi-finals and final. Coverage of the season opener at Barcelona will start on Sunday, April 2, at 14:00 CEST. A list of all TV channels is available at www.fiaworldrallycross.com/tv_listings. In selected markets a live stream of World RX will be available online at www.fiaworldrallycross.com/live. Images courtesy of AUDI AG.
Mattias Ekström (Audi S1 EKS RX quattro #1) in the FIA World Rallycross Championship
Toomas Heikkinen (Audi S1 EKS RX quattro #57) in the FIA World Rallycross Championship