Ekström Q&A: “WorldRX will be a very strong and popular championship in years”
Exclusive Q&A with Eks team owner, 2 times DTM and this year's World Rallycross champion, Mattias Ekström
The Swedish champion talked about the category’s present and future, along with helping to find answer why are the fans and the drivers crazy about this relatively new series.
Q: If you need to recommend watching WRX for someone who hasn’t watched any RX before, what would you say, why is it a great category?
EKS: “I think the format is very good, because there are many starts, the cars are very fast, and the circuits are short, so there is a lot of action. The paddock area and where the cars and the mechanics are is also very easy to visit, and that’s what fans love.”
Q: That’s for the fans, but how about the drivers? We have a Hungarian Rallycross driver, Tamás Pál Kiss, who is racing in Euro RX. Few years ago he raced and had good results in formula categories, for example in GP3, but when he realised he doesn’t have the budget to move forward to GP2 or F1, he decided to try Rallycross because it’s also fun and cheaper. Is Rallycross good for drivers who can’t continue their formula plans because of budget?
EKS: “I think Rallycross in general is a sport which is expensive on one side, because you crash a lot of components, but the entertainment level is quite high for the driver. To give you a short answer, it’s a lot cheaper compared to single seater racing, and you know, when you are driving in a world championship, you get a lot of attention, and with World Rallycross you can get it for a relatively good price.
“I see the category’s future pretty bright, because it is really easy to follow if you have any kind of social media channel. You can tune in very simply, the final is also short, and it’s not hard to understand the rules, however the races are very exciting. Thanks to all this it’s also attractive for sponsors.”
Q: What I really like about WRX, is what you said, that when there is no action on the track for the Supercar category, fans can easily meet the drivers. Are you suggesting to other series to let fans closer to the teams and the drivers?
EKS: “I think to have a modern sport you need to give a lot more to the fans, because competition to the different sports is very high. So at my team we really try to give a lot to our supporters.
“I think if someone wants to go to a race for a day or a weekend, he wants to go home with not just great experiences about the actions on the track, but behind the scenes experiences like meeting with the drivers and seeing the teams working. I think that’s really important for every championship, every series, and every sport to give the fans a lot, because if we have no fans coming it’s quite bad. I will always try every possibility to make the fans happy, because if there are happy fans in a series it’s a very good sign.”
©EKS Mattias Ekström signing autographs for fans
Q: Once Jeremy Clarkson said when they tried Rallycross, and few series later WRX on Top Gear, that it is the best and most exciting kind of motorsport both for a driver and for a fan, because it’s almost all about the drivers, that’s why we always see real wheel to wheel actions and thrilling races. Can you agree with him?
EKS: “Yes. I think it’s quite easy to understand why people say things like that, because the cars are very powerful, the show is great, so people can quickly fall in love with it. For me the biggest advantages of the sport is here you can see guys like Ken Block, the safety is quite high, and it’s not as risky as rally but the driving is very good, so you can see as exciting races as in circuit racing.
“It’s a combination of racing and rallying, because you can see the cars all the time, but they look like the ones in WRC, the only difference is that they are a lot more powerful. The reason why people come and watch us is to see extreme things. You know almost every normal road car has maximum 200 horsepower, and that’s why people look up on Rallycross because the cars we use are extreme and special.”
Q: How do you know, as a new series, is WRX becoming more and more popular?
“Yes, lot of new teams are coming with drivers like Loeb or Block, and I’m sure there will come more guys, because the format is very attractive. If this continues from year to year we will have a very strong and popular championship.”
Even though the interview was made over the summer, I would like to thank Mattias for his long and detailed answers, as well as his chreerfulness! It was a pleasure, champ!