Audi S1 RX – 21st Century's Lord of the Rings
When you put an Audi and S1 in the same sentence, you are talking about one of the most popular cars in the history of rallying – the Group B-spec Audi Sport quattro S1 from the 1980s. But, in recent years, there is one more Audi S1 which reached the top of the world – it is Audi S1 EKS RX quattro (or simply the Audi S1 RX), used by Mattias Ekström’s EKS RX team in the FIA World Rallycross Championship since 2014.
Street-legal Audi S1 tuned to 560 hp
Unlike some other teams, that entered the World RX inaugural season with Audi models (A1 or S3), Ekström and his engineers constructed a completely new car, based on the street-legal Audi S1, the 397 cm long super hatch that was revealed in 2014. The basic powerplant is a straight-four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 230 hp. Looks impressive on the street, but for rallycross, you need much much more.
The power is increased to 560 hp, the torque is about 850 Nm. It can be even more, but FIA says it’s enough and ruled out the usage of 45-mm air restrictors. The engine is connected to a six-speed sequential gearbox with a mechanical shift. All that power is directed towards all four wheels through the permanent quattro 4WD drive system.
An acceleration almost as F1 car
The result is impressive – 2.9 seconds from zero to 100 km/h! The car’s weight is limited to 1320 kg (including a driver) and its maximum speed isn’t big because on the rallycross tracks you simply don’t need a speed over 200 km/h.
But the agility and the drive ability are simply perfect because numerous turns and breaking points demand high-performance suspension and brakes. Ekström’s Audi is using Öhlins dampers and Pagid brake pads.
Maiden victory in Ekström’s homeland
EKS RX team debuted with Audi A1 RX in the third round of the 2014 World Rallycross Championship, at Hell, Norway. Drivers were Mattias Ekström and Pontus Tidemand. Less than one month after debut, on July 6, Ekström scored his first World RX victory at his home event in Holjes, Sweden. Later in the season, Ekström reached one more podium and finished second in the German round at Estering. He finished 11th in the championship standings.
During the season, Pontus Tidemand competed in seven events with Audi S1 RX and finished seventh in the championship points. Other drivers were Edwards Sandstrom (four events), Markus Winkelhock and Per-Gunnar Andersson (one event each).
Significant progress and one more win in 2015 season
In 2015, Mattias Ekström and Anton Marklund were regular drivers in the #10 and #92 Audis, with two guests in the cockpit of the Audi’s Supercar – Andrew Jordan and Edward Sandstrom. Ekström was again the winner at the Höljes Motorstadion after a provisional winner Timmy Hansen was penalized because he took a cut in the first corner.
Ekström added two more podiums to his account (Lydden Hill and Rosario) and finished fifth in the championship. Anton Marklund was struggling the entire season and he scored the 4th place, which was his best result. He finished 12th in the final classification.
Four wins and world’s title in 2016
In the third season of racing, Mattias Ekström and EKS RX team finally reached the top of their performances and became the main championship contenders for the 2016 crown, both in the drivers’ and teams’ category.
Ekström won four times, three times in a row in May (Hockenheimring, Mettet and Lydden Hill) and then in September in Barcelona. He added two podiums and secured the championship title at eleventh round of the season, at Germany’s Estering. Ekström’s team-mate in 2016 is Toppi Heikkinen, who scored two podiums.
Four more World RX wins in 2017
Audi S1 RX was again the victorious car four times in 2017, all four driven by Mattias Ekstrom. He finished second in the championship, behind Johan Kristoffersson.
The team received more factory support for 2018 and it was renamed to EKS Audi Sport, continuing to use an upgraded Audi S1 RX. Johan Kristoffersson dominated again in the championship in a Volkswagen Polo, leaving Audi drivers only to score ten podiums, without wins.
Audi pulled out from the championship in 2019, Mattias Ekstrom also retired from full-time racing, so other private teams continue to use S1 RX beasts.