Ekström scores Dakar Rally stage win

Mattias Ekström, PURE ETCR’s title winner 2021, continued his magnificent form in electric motorsport into the new year by claiming his maiden Dakar Rally Stage victory in Saudi Arabia on Monday.

The Swede was crowned King of the season in PURE ETCR; the series that evolves into the FIA ETCR – eTouring Car World Cup this year, following a heart-stopping finale at Pau-Arnos in France, and helped CUPRA X Zengo Motorsport to the Manufacturers’ title too.

But he has traded the permanent circuits for the sand dunes of the middle-east for this fortnight, kicking off his season on one of the most famous rallies in the world.

Driving Team Audi Sport’s electric RS Q e-tron, Ekström scored a narrow 49-second win on Stage Eight – an 830km section from Al Dawadim to Wadi Ad Dawasir – ahead of team-mate Stephane Peterhansel.

This made him only the second driver in Dakar history – after team-mate Carlos Sainz – to win a stage in an electric-powered vehicle.

“We didn’t even have one detail that was not perfect, so for me it was a very good day,” said Ekström.

“(Co-driver) Emil (Bergkvist) and myself feel like the rookies here, learning every day and trying to manage the risk. There are so many kilometres where you can have a mistake.

“Today, I’m happy because we didn’t do any [mistakes]. Maybe we were too conservative, but there are still many days to go.”

Ekström, who is taking part in his second Dakar Rally, moved up one spot to 12th overall as a result of his stage win.