Audi driver Mattias Ekstrom is DTM Champion
Swede defeats Mercedes rivals Second Championship after 2004 title win Privately, Mattias Ekstrom loves a mix of action and quiet life "If you want to clinch the title in the DTM you've got to be prepared to tackle difficult challenges." Casual comments like these would come from Mattias Ekstrom when ending up further towards the back than the front of the grid after a qualifying practice in 2007. The 29-year-old Swede kept his word and made his title dream come true for a second time after 2004: In the final round at Hockenheim, Ekstrom secured the triumph in the most popular international touring car series with a third-place finish against the strong competition from Mercedes-Benz as well as from within his own Audi squad.
Mattias Ekstrom, who is called "Eki" by all of his friends, does not fit the typical mould of a racer. Stereotypes like the almost obligatory residence in Monaco or a passion for fast cars and a yacht the fair-haired racer simply brushes off with a twinkle in his eye. "Monaco hardly has any trees and meadows -- Moss and Lou wouldn't like that at all," says Ekstrom. The two Jack-Russel terriers are the darlings of the champion and his girlfriend Tina Thorner with whom he has been living for the past ten years. After first living together in Krylbo (Sweden), the couple found a new home in Salenstein (Switzerland) some time ago.
Since the 2001 season Ekstrom has been contesting the DTM, first for the Audi customer team Abt Sportsline and, since 2004, as a factory driver in Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline based in Kempten. After the 1999 Swedish Touring Car Championship and the highly acclaimed first DTM triumph in 2004, the 2007 title is Ekstrom's third exploit of this kind. No other current DTM driver has won more Championships for the brand with the four rings.
The private programme contrasting the concentrated work with his team and the 470-hp Audi A4 DTM is a mix between speed and "deceleration": Ekstrom loves taking long walks with his dogs as well as touring the countryside on his bicycle and relishes the peace and quiet of his home and garden situated directly on Lake Constance. But the new DTM Champion also enjoys another side of Mother Nature: Jetski or quad excursions are also favourite pastimes of his, as well as participating in races with respective "hp monsters" that can be rather rough at times and that allow the Swede to hone his senses away from the race track.
Often his friends are part of the quick sporting action. The Swedish touring car driver Fredrik Ekblom, for example, and Martin Tomczyk in particular. The 25-year-old driver from Rosenheim is one of Ekstrom's best friends -- and was one of his biggest rivals this year as well. In 2001 both entered the DTM together and have been team-mates ever since. And while the world was trying to fan some flames of conflict between the two friends, at least during the fight for the title, the two of them were having fun together on Lake Constance, or while shopping in Munich. The fact that some team members -- alluding to the rivalry in Formula 1 -- would even call them "Lewis" and "Fernando" would make both of them laugh. Clearly, they will celebrate the Championship together as well.
After the DTM season, Ekstrom, who is a strict teetotaller and not famous for being a party animal, is facing a different kind of challenge: the Championship celebrations with his mechanics and the Audi Sport squad. But this should not be a problem for the Champion either. After all he says himself: "If you want to clinch the title in the DTM you've got to be prepared to tackle difficult challenges."