It’s a new season with new names for a new series with the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup starting this weekend in Pau and it’s a new identity too for the winners of the predecessor PURE ETCR with CUPRA now represented by CUPRA EKS and charged with repeating the title success they enjoyed in 2021.
CUPRA EKS sees familiar faces Mattias Ekström and Jordi Gené joined by new generation racers Tom Blomqvist and Adrien Tambay who will have their first outing this weekend on the streets of Pau for Infinite Reality Race FR.
For Ekström it’s something of a case of double duties as the 2021 PURE ETCR title winner also sees his EKS squad as the new team partner of CUPRA. The aim is to reclaim the titles secured in 2021, but this is something easier said than done.
“There is no doubt that defending a title is much more monumental work than claiming one,” said Ekström.
“I am sure my team-mates and all the other ETCR drivers will be giving their everything to pass me and take the crown. It won’t be a walk in the park, that’s for sure!”
Even though it’s his team as the new team partner, Ekström doesn’t expect any impact on his duties behind the wheel.
“EKS together with CUPRA will give us the best possible car at every track in every conditions,” he said. “There is not so much pressure on me as a team owner, because I know the EKS crew and I trust them completely.”
The 2021 title winner will once again line-up with the most experienced driver on the grid, Jordi Gené.
Gené has driven before on the streets of Pau, in WTCC and also Formula 3000 and despite the Spaniard’s experience, he comes to Pau full of caution of the potential peril that awaits.
“Street circuits have no room for error,” he said, “and it’s very easy to make an error with the ETCR car, so it’s going be a very, very difficult weekend. It’s the first weekend for us, the circuit has absolutely no room for a mistake, because the walls are really close and very strong walls too! That’s going to make that first race even more exciting.”
Gené is well aware of the two young chargers that join him and Ekström this season.
“Tom and Adrien are very fast drivers, and although they’re young, they have a lot of experience,” he said. “So far in the tests we’ve done they’ve pushed the car to the limit, so for me it’s going to be a challenge. This is good for the team. They’re going to give us new ideas, competitiveness… it’s going to make us go faster for sure.”
Raised on the racetrack. Despite their youth, both Tom Blomqvist and Adrien Tambay have a long history in motorsport.
When he was just 16, Blomqvist became the youngest driver to win Formula Renault UK, and now at 28 he’s vying for another milestone at the wheel of the CUPRA e-Racer.
“Jordi and Mattias have a lot of experience and Adrien and I are very fast. We make a great team, so there’s no holding us back,” said Blomqvist, adding, “it’s not just about being fast on the track. Both Ekström and Gené are experienced drivers in racing and also in developing the cars. They’ve raced at the highest level in the world for many years and I’m sure we’ll learn a lot from them.”
It’s a completely new experience for seasoned Formula 3 racer Adrien Tambay. “It’s very different from what I’m used to,” said Tambay. “It’s a very exciting competition with several qualifying rounds, but that’s the challenge we enjoy as racing drivers. You can never stop learning. I’ve been team-mates with Mattias before and I’ve always tried to be like a sponge to learn as much as I can and try to improve.”