Ten DTM-rounds a year are not enough -- at least not for Mattias Ekstr?m. In a self-organised campaign, the Abt-driver contested the World Rally Championship-round in Sweden and finished a sensational third in the production-based Group N.

Mattias Ekstr?m.
Photo by Abt Sportsline.
"I haven't been driving a proper rally for three years", says Ekstr?m. The expectation of the 24-year old Swede were accordingly modest. Ekstr?m had most recently proven to be one of the best in his trade when seated behind a steering wheel by finishing third overall in the final standings of last year's DTM. In Zandvoort, he even scored his maiden victory with his Abt-Audi TT-R. For his outing in the snow, the problems were different: writing down the pace notes.

"Unfortunately, I forgot some corners and sometimes wrote down fifth gear rather than third gear. Therefore, I hit some snow walls and there were some hairy moments", Ekstr?m reports. Apart from that, things went perfect in Scandinavia: Ekstr?m and his co-driver Sven Bergmann managed to keep some experienced rallying aces behind them and thus caused excitement, not only among the local spectators and the media.

After slightly backing off on the opening day ("I was already afraid of being overtaken by the postman on the first stage"), starting number 112 would remain among the front runners in the Group N-category throughout. And, more important: "It was long ago that I had so much fun."

Nevertheless: there is no danger of Mattias Ekstr?m leaving the DTM for good. "For rallying, I would have to get up every day at six in the morning for one week and I would not even have a warm hospitality, that is nothing for me", the Swedish youngster says with a smile.