Ingolstadt/Malung -- Mattias Ekstrom has been the DTM champion twice. Now, the 30-year-old Swede tackled a completely different kind of challenge -- and mastered it with flying colors: Ekstrom finished the famous "Wasa Run" for cross-country...
Ingolstadt/Malung -- Mattias Ekstrom has been the DTM champion twice. Now, the 30-year-old Swede tackled a completely different kind of challenge -- and mastered it with flying colors: Ekstrom finished the famous "Wasa Run" for cross-country skiers in 3,692th place in a field of 15 000 contenders last weekend.
Normally, Mattias Ekstrom - at best -- deals with hundredths and thousandths of a second. But on Sunday even a gap of two and a half hours to the winner amounted to a great exploit for the 2004 and 2007 DTM Champion: after a total time of 6h35m41s, the Audi factory driver crossed the finish line of the 85th "Wasa Run" covering a 90-kilometer distance through Swedish woods and landscapes.
"I'm really bushed but also extremely proud about having taken on -- and mastered -- this challenge," said Mattias Ekstrom. Unlike most of the other participants in Scandinavia's biggest skiing event he encountered pitiful training conditions in Switzerland where he now resides: "There was hardly any snow in and around Salenstein, so I always had to drive for an hour before being able to finally put on my skies."
Ekstrom nonetheless was in top shape at the classic run, which was staged for the 85th time and started just 150 kilometers from Falun where Ekstrom was born. "I went to Sweden more than a week ago and participated in all the shorter preliminary runs. That way I was able to continually improve and prepare for the main event," he said. Yet his top athletic performance was just one aspect of his excursion into unknown territory. Ekstrom: "I was with some friends in Sweden whom I hardly get to see during the racing season. Spending time with the boys and contesting the 'Vasaloppet' with them was a great change of pace from my daily routines as a racer."
Yet his DTM rivals should not pin any hopes on him switching to competitive skiing because prior to his ninth DTM season Mattias Ekstrom is as ready to attack as always: "We've had two great years with titles for Timo and me. Now, our big goal is to achieve the hat-trick for Audi. And, needless to say, I'd love to take care of that personally."
The 2009 DTM season starts at the Hockenheimring on May 17. As early as on April 19, the vehicles and drivers will present themselves on Dusseldorf's "Ko."