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Ekström: Cupra “Open Minded” in EV Racing Strategy

Mattias Ekström to analyse electric racing opportunities for Cupra, including rallycross…

Photo: Cupra

Mattias Ekström says his role as a development driver for the Cupra e-Racer will include analysing “all types” of possible electric racing programs for the Spanish manufacturer.

The former DTM and FIA World Rallycross Champion was confirmed last month as an ‘e-ambassador’ for SEAT subsidiary Cupra, which launched its e-Racer electric race car last year.

While the e-Racer is currently built to ETCR regulations, a large part of Ekström’s role will include scouting and providing feedback on other possible avenues for Cupra’s electric racing strategy.

“In my role, I will analyse everything,” Ekström told e-racing365.

“Now, we have the e-Racer but I think Cupra will be open-minded for anything and we will have to analyse all types of sport.

“You have Formula E, Extreme E, rallycross, ETCR and for sure, there will be other sports and also then esports.

“There are so many manufacturers that have esports teams so I think Cupra will definitely analyse everything. Where, finally, Cupra will be a part of, time will tell.”

While Cupra hasn’t formally committed its e-Racer to ETCR, the car was launched alongside WSC Group’s electric touring car platform and has provided the basis of the nascent series for the past 18 months.

Ekström will race the car when it starts competing, most likely in ETCR’s first events next year.

“I will be one of the drivers in the e-Racer,” he said. “There is no confirmation of category this is for. It is likely that it is something in ETCR but, so far, nothing is confirmed.”

His test mileage in the car so far has included a day at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the same track that an ETCR launch event was held at a year ago, earlier in the summer.

Further to that, he tested the car on the snow/ice track in Andorra, showing that the car could be adapted for off-road conditions.

“I’ve been doing testing in the winter on snow and ice and spending a day on the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona,” he explained.

“I’ve been trying it and had my first impressions, then I’ve done some show runs and some smaller stuff. I’ve got a really good first taste, that I can say.

“We were in Andorra driving on snow and ice on the racetrack they have up there, with spiked tires. I definitely enjoyed that because that’s a little bit where I come from with my rallycross experience.”

Ekström Eager to Follow Projekt E Launch

The Swede says he will be closely following the launch of Projekt E, the fully electric support series to the FIA World Rallycross Championship, in Latvia on Friday.

The series will debut next year, supporting World RX at several European rounds, with manufacturer-specific silhouette bodywork installed on a shared platform designed by STARD.

Ekström is particularly interested in this program due to his background in World RX, where he won the title in 2016 and managed his own team, EKS RX, for five years.

He says he’ll attend the launch of Projekt E on Friday to see if it presents any possible future opportunities for Cupra.

“On the weekend, I will be in Riga to support Andreas Bakkerud and I will definitely take the time to watch [the Projekt E] car as well, and see what that could be like,” he said.

“I [can’t] say yes or no to anything. I will go there with an open mind and check those cars out, collect all the information I can and see if that’s a possible option as well.

“The e-Racer, yes it’s a touring car for certain today, but with the skills Cupra has, they can build anything. You can build a rallycross car out of that car pretty fast.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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