​Audi driver Ekström: “The DTM is fun again”

You’re leading the World RX and mounted the podium for the first time this year in the DTM last Sunday. Are you happy with the start of the new season?
Mattias Ekström: “Starting the new rallyross season with three victories in the first three races was simply incredible, a dream! In the DTM, I had good races on the first two weekends, but poor qualifying sessions. That’s why I’m not where I’d like to be in the standings. But much more importantly, the DTM is on the right track and fun again – for us drivers as well as for the fans.”

What’s so good about the “new” DTM?
“Finally, some things have been put into action that had only been talked about for years. A lot has happened in winter and the result is good. All the changes that have been made immediately panned out well on the first two weekends. The DTM has always been highly competitive, but the races were often less exciting, especially on Saturday. Now, we’re seeing plenty of overtaking maneuvers and you can advance to the far front even from positions on the rear of the grid. At Hockenheim and at the Lausitzring we saw fantastic overtaking maneuvers. That’s great for the fans, but for us drivers, too.”

On Saturday at the Lausitzring, you even passed two BMW cars in one go and on Sunday, in pursuit of second place, overtook Mercedes driver Robert Wickens on the outside. The fans in the grandstands went wild…
“This is the kind of action the fans would like to see. I immediately posted videos of the two overtaking maneuvers on social media and got lots of likes and comments. In rallycross, we’re constantly battling hard. In the DTM, we haven’t seen such a large number of overtaking maneuvers and as much action as this year in a long time – and it’s all been fair. When you overtake on the outside you have to be able to rely on your opponent playing along. That was the case with Robert (Wickens) on Sunday and with Augusto (Farfus) and Marco (Wittmann) on Saturday, too. I’ve always said that having fewer drivers this year is actually good because it raises the level of quality.”

Do you also have the feeling that the fans are responding favorably to the “new” DTM?
“The atmosphere at Hockenheim and at the Lausitzring was very positive. You can feel the upbeat spirit – not least thanks to the new boss, Gerhard Berger, at the helm. The DTM has always been committed to being in close touch with the fans, but was hiding the cars from the spectators. That has changed now. Things like the Pit View are great. Our mechanics are not used to being watched at work that way, but for the fans it’s fantastic. They finally get to see the fascinating technology of a DTM car. I’d say the direction is right and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it.”

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