Mattias Ekstrom is one of the most popular and most successful Swedish racing drivers ever. He is a former DTM champion and one of the most successful drivers in the series of all time. He spent seventeen seasons in DTM, winning the championship title in 2004 and 2007, and finishing seven more times among top 3 drivers. He left DTM in 2018.
From 2014 to 2018, he was a regular competitor in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, winning the title in 2016 and finishing as a runner-up in 2017 and 2018.
Swedish Touring Car Championship title was Ekstrom's first success
Mattias Ekström was born in July 1978 in Falun, and was exposed to the world of racing from a very young age because his father Bengt competed in rallycross. His first steps in racing were made in the Swedish Renault 5 junior series, but he had his first success in the Swedish Touring Car Championship.
In his debut season of 1997, he was a runner-up in the overall standings and two years later he won the title claiming four victories and six podium finishes in 16 races.
DTM debut with Audi in 2001
In 2001, he made a debut in DTM as the driver of Abt Sportsline team. His maiden season was full of ups and downs, but the next one was much better. Ekstrom won three out of 16 races and finished third in the overall standings.
Mattias Ekstrom won two titles in three years
Two years later, he became a DTM champion winning four out of 11 races in the season. In 2005, he failed to defend his crown and finished second mainly because he wasn't so good in the last two races. However, that year Ekstrom won his first title at the Race of Champions. The next year was far from perfect since he finished eighth at the end of the season.
In 2007, Mattias won his second career title in DTM and he showed his consistent form throughout the whole season. He won just one race that year but had six more podium finishes. He stayed loyal to Audi and Abt Sportsline, establishing himself as a true example of a trustworthy driver. In 2008, he finished third overall, while in 2011 and 2014 Ekstrom was a DTM runner-up. Audi driver did well again in 2015 when he finished third overall, confirming that he is definitely one of the series' trademarks.
Star guest in the WRC and the first Scandinavian in NASCAR
He has also been very active in the World Rally Championship, but he competed only in the races held in Sweden and Germany. In the FIA World Rallycross Championship, he achieved amazing results. He won in Sweden in 2014 and came second in Germany in 2015.
Back in 2010, Mattias Ekstrom was also the first driver from Scandinavia who competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, substituting for Brian Vickers in the race at Sonoma Raceway. He also appeared in the Australian V8 Supercars Championship, driving Triple Eight Race Engineering's Holden VF Commodore at the famous Bathurst 1000. Although it was his debut, he was good and he managed to grab a solid 10th place.
Video - Mattias Ekström RX test in Sweden
Champion of the champions
Ekstrom is also one of the most successful drivers who competed in the annual Race of Champions event, where he confirmed his verastility. He won three ‘Champion of the Champions’ titles. In 2006, at Saint-Denis he won his first title, beating Sebastien Loeb in the final. Next year in London, he proved to be unbeatable again, this time outracing Michael Schumacher. In 2009, in Beijing, Ekstrom won his third title once again beating Michael Schumacher in the final.
2016 World Rallycross champion
The season of 2016 was very good for the Swedish racer. In DTM he scored one win (Hungaroring) and played an important role in Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline's quest to win the Teams' championship title. However, Mattias missed the last round of the series as he was preparing for an attack to the World RX title.
Parallel to his DTM duties, Ekstrom competed in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, driving an Audi S1 RX. He scored four wins before clinching the title during the penultimate round in Germany.
Vice-champion both in the DTM and World RX
In 2017, the Swede continued to share his duties between DTM and World RX and after the first half of the season, he was a title contender in both championships. In the end, he was a vice-champion in both competitions.
In the DTM, he was a race winner once and finished second in the points, behind Audi teammate Rene Rast. In the World Rallycross Championship, Ekstrom was a winner four times in an Audi S1 but lost a title to Volkswagen's Johan Kristoffersson.
Retiring from racing at the end of 2018
Mattias Ekstrom left DTM in 2018, after spending seventeen fantastic seasons in the series. He had a farewell ride in the #5 Audi RS5 DTM in the season-opening round at Hockenheimring.
After that, he concentrated on his World RX commitments. It was a season of an absolute domination of Johan Kristoffersson, who won eleven out of twelve rounds. Ekstrom was the best of the rest, scoring four podiums and finishing second in the championship points. At the end of the season, he announced retirement from racing, focusing on managing duties with his team.
However, he made one-off appearance in the 2019 World Rallycross Championship, driving an Audi at Spa-Francorchamps.