Mattias Ekstrom will return to Extreme E at the Desert X Prix next week in Saudi Arabia in place of Carlos Sainz.
Ekstrom contested the 2021 season of Extreme E for Abt Cupra, securing second place in the Island X Prix alongside Jutta Kleinschmidt. Last year focused his attention on an ETCR campaign for Cupra – where he finished second in the points – and a Dakar run with Audi, where he was a teammate to Sainz.
“Carlos is one of my childhood idols and since we are teammates in the Audi Dakar project, we’ve become friends, so it feels special and even emotional to join his team at Extreme E,” said Ekstrom. “With me stepping in for Carlos, it will give him more time to recover from the accident he suffered at Dakar. I also know Laia since my very first Extreme E race and I’ve seen her progress a lot and she has shown her speed on track.
“Even though it was a very late decision to join the team, I will do my best to bring success to Acciona Sainz Extreme E Team this season and I hope we can fight for race wins and titles. I look forward on meeting all the team members in person and working with Carlos as my team boss, as I’m sure it will be a fun and valuable experience.”
Sainz, who has driven for his eponymous Acciona Sainz team since the all-electric off-road series’ maiden season in 2021, sustained multiple spinal fractures in January’s Dakar Rally after rolling on the rally raid’s ninth stage and while he is still recovering from those injuries, will remain a part of his team in Saudi Arabia, albeit from the sidelines.
“Mattias is the best signing we could have hoped for, for this new season. I know him well and I trust him completely because I know what he is capable of,” said Sainz. “I believe he is one of the best and most multifaceted race drivers in the world, and therefore it is an honour that he gets to defend the colours of Acciona Sainz Extreme E Team.
“I have raced against him in Extreme E and know him as my teammate in Audi in the raids, so I am aware of his potential and strengths.
“I myself will do all I can to help the team achieve its goals. I will be attending the races and supporting them to get the best results we can. Regarding Laia, she keeps growing as a race driver and she knows the team throughout.”
Ekstrom will race alongside Laia Sanz who has been a mainstay in the Acciona Sainz team since 2021, which was her first season in four-wheel competition after a stellar career as a enduro and trials rider.
“I am really looking forward to the start of the Extreme E season. I feel like I improved a lot last year, but I haven’t reached my maximum and I am convinced that this season I will be able to contribute even more to the team’s success,” said Sanz. “It will definitely be strange not having Carlos on my side in Saudi Arabia, but his advice will be as important as always to try and achieve the result we all want.
“I am thrilled to be working with Mattias, who doesn’t really need any introduction because he has achieved so much in his long career in motorsports.”