ABT Sportsline has confirmed two-time Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters champion and 2016 World Rallycross champion Mattias Ekström as its male driver and CUPRA as its main partner in Extreme E, the pioneering electric off-road racing series which commences early next year.
The announcement was made at the official opening of the first CUPRA Garage in Europe in Hamburg, Germany, where the team’s ODYSSEY 21 show car made its world premiere.
One of the world’s most versatile racing drivers, Ekström will reunite with ABT Sportsline for the first time in three years, and the Swede has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the team. From 2001 to 2017, Ekström competed for the team in the high-profile, pan-European DTM touring car series, clinching the crown in both 2004 and 2007 and finishing inside the top three in the standings on seven further occasions.
Ekström also won the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2016, going on to finish runner-up in each of the following two seasons, and he is now preparing to put that diverse skillset to use in international motor racing’s most exciting, innovative and spectacular new series. In line with Extreme E’s commitment to gender equality, his female team-mate will be confirmed at a later date.
“It feels a bit like coming home," commented Ekström. "Twenty years ago, the DTM was a great challenge which we mastered together. Now, it is high time for a new adventure – Extreme E. I think the concept is ingenious, and I am sure that we have a strong team together with CUPRA and ABT.”
Ekström has been an ambassador for CUPRA for the past year, and in joining forces with ABT in Extreme E, the sporty Spanish brand becomes the first automotive manufacturer to enter the series and will contribute to lining up a team of engineers for the electric odyssey.
Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E said of the announcement: “We’re delighted to welcome CUPRA on-board as Extreme E’s first automotive partner, an announcement that truly underscores ABT Sportsline’s commitment to the series. Both brands are trailblazers in the domain of electrification, and this marks another step in the right direction towards sparking a genuine change in the wider automotive market.
“It is also great news to confirm Mattias Ekström as a driver for Extreme E’s first season in 2021. His racing record speaks for itself, and having proven his ability in touring cars and rallycross, I have no doubt that he will rapidly get to grips with both the ODYSSEY 21 and the unique challenge posed by Extreme E. I look forward to seeing him in action.”
Set to begin in early 2021, Extreme E’s inaugural season will be staged across five remote environments featuring Arctic, desert, rainforest, glacier and ocean-themed locations, selecting places that have already been damaged or affected by climate change issues. The races will draw attention to the challenges of these diverse ecosystems while demonstrating the performance of purely electric SUVs. The five-event global voyage will utilise its international sporting platform for the purpose of promoting electrification, environment and equality.
Find out more about Extreme E HERE