When Audi star Mattias Ekstrom decides to call it a day in the DTM, he may well have another career awaiting him in world rallying, judging by his recent off-road efforts.
The 2004 DTM champion finished 11th for Skoda in the Rallye Deutschland last weekend, his second World Rally Championship event of the year. And it was an experience, he says, that has whetted his appetite for more.
“I've learned a lot,” he said. “Rallying, especially in changing weather conditions such as those we had, is tremendous.”
It was the Swede's eighth participation in the WRC, and a strong showing that helped the Red Bull-backed outfit claim their highest points' haul of the season and propelled the outfit ahead of Ford's 'B' team, Stobart VK in the constructors' championship. This came on the back of an even more impressive performance in the snow in his native country back in February, when he looked set for fifth place until a late retirement on the final day.
Although he clearly enjoys the challenge rallying presents and perhaps sees a future in the sport once he hangs up his tin-top helmet, the 28-year-old re-assured fans that for now his heart remains firmly in touring cars.
“I enjoy both the DTM and rallying very much,” he said. “For me, they're like golfing and tennis. Rallying for me is a diversion but as I have already proved with my various starts in the Rally Sweden, I can be quite successful at it too.”
“If another chance to drive a rally presents itself, I will take it,” he added. “I look at my forays into rallying only as a diversion and as a way to prove my versatility as a driver, but the DTM and Audi will remain my top priorities for a long time.”