Timing of Ekstrom's DTM departure "strange" - Green

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Timing of Ekstrom's DTM departure
By: Tom Errington
May 9, 2018, 1:40 PM

Audi’s Jamie Green says he found the timing of Mattias Ekstrom’s decision over the winter to leave the DTM to fully focus on World Rallycross “strange”.

Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi RS5 DTM
Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline with Andrea Kaiser, Sat1-TV
Jamie Green, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi RS 5 DTM
Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi RS5 DTM
Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline
Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi RS5 DTM
Signed hood of Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline
Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline
Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi RS5 DTM
Dieter Gass, Head of DTM Audi Sport with Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline

Two-time champion Ekstrom called an end on his 17-year spell in the DTM as Audi’s most successful driver in the series after a Hockenheim farewell in a seventh RS5 DTM.

Ekstrom took the decision to quit the DTM amid increased Audi backing of his World RX team and a desire to spend more time with his family, rather than balance two series.

But Green says he was surprised to hear about Ekstrom’s choice, labelling it "a bit strange".

“When I heard that he was stopping over the winter time I was surprised because I would have thought he would have said something last year," Green told Motorsport.com. 

“I think he was so focused on last season and when it was over – obviously he was gunning for the championship last year and didn’t get it, so he was probably focussed on that - and decided it was the right time to stop. 

“It was a surprise I didn’t see coming at the time. The fact he’s here racing even though he’s stopped [full-time] is also a bit unusual. 

“But on a personal note, Mattias is a really likeable character and I think you either love him or you hate him, but I think most people actually like him.” 

When Ekstrom was asked by Motorsport.com on Friday if he was expecting an emotional weekend, he said: “I think it’s wonderful. 

“You spend so many years somewhere, on the one side it’s hard, on the other side it’s also the end of a chapter and it always starts a new one."

He added that arriving at Hockenheim with no testing or preparation was an odd feeling.

“In some ways, I don’t miss it,” he said. “It’s strange but that’s how it is, I feel like I achieved a lot, we won some [23] races, two championships. 

“I’m proud of the number of podiums [76] and I feel I have entertained people well over the years.”

Audi DTM boss Dieter Gass told Motorsport.com he wished Audi could provide a more successful finale for Ekstrom, whose best result last weekend was 16th.

“He would have liked to [have been] a bit more in the mix-up front and we would have loved to give him the chance to do it. He handled the day [well],” Gass said. 

ITR boss Gerhard Berger suggested to Motorsport.com that Ekstrom’s exit from the DTM would not be final, although Gass disagreed with his assessment.

He added: “If you see how the fans reacted to his burnouts there at the end of the race, I think it was a well-deserved farewell from DTM. 

“Thanks to Mattias for everything he did for Audi over the past 17 years. It isn’t a definitive goodbye, he carries on in World RX."

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About this article

Series DTM
Drivers Mattias Ekström , Jamie Green
Author Tom Errington
Article type Breaking news