Audi backs Ekstrom in World RX & Button tests OMSE Civic

Seven days in rallycross, January 21

by Hal Ridge |

Reigning FIA World Rallycross Champion Mattias Ekstrom has secured manufacturer backing from Audi Sport for his EKS team, and will continue to race Audi S1 Supercars in World RX, where in 2017 the squad will be defending the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships. Founded in 2014, EKS has been privately run by Ekstrom to date, but due to the Swede’s employment with Audi as a DTM driver has had access to Audi Sport’s suppliers and partners. This season will mark the first year that EKS has had full Audi backing, joining Peugeot, Ford and Volkswagen in the series. “We realise that it’s going to be increasingly difficult for EKS to hold its own against the factory teams (in World RX), so we chose to intensify our World RX commitment,” said Dieter Gass, head of Audi Motorsport.

2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button tested an OlsbergsMSE Honda Civic Supercar for the first time this week, driving the car in Florida. Button retired from Formula 1 at the end of 2016 and has made his intentions of competing in rallycross in the future clear, to follow in the footsteps of his late father, John. Button previously drove a JRM Mini at Lydden Hill for a BBC F1 TV feature, but the outing with OMSE was the first time he has conducted a full test. “He likes it and he did really well,” said OMSE CEO Andreas Eriksson. “Jenson is enjoying himself. He wanted to see what he can do and how fast he can be and so on, and that’s what we’re trying to help him answer. Obviously we both work closely with Honda, so it makes sense for him to do it with us.”

Andreas Bakkerud joined a range of rallycross drivers and cars from across the history of rallycross to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the sport in the Live Action Arena at the Autosport International Show. Bakkerud arrived for the final day of the four-day action to drive Ollie O’Donovan’s Ford Focus Supercar, while fellow World RX stars Reinis Nitiss and Janis Baumanis drove RX150 buggies in the event. Liam Doran drove a Citroen DS3 and Guy Wilks performed in a Ford Fiesta, alongside fellow Supercar drivers Julian Godfrey, Kevin Procter and Derek Tohill, the latter driving his double-European TouringCar championship winning car. Dermot Carnegie returned to his former Ford Fiesta Supercar for the show. The Group B era was celebrated by Pat Doran in a Ford RS200 and Rob Gibson and Adam Keeler driving MG Metro 6R4s. The show also included the car that won the first ever rallycross event, the Porsche 911 that Vic Elford guided to victory in 1967, but Elford himself was unable to attend due to ill health. John Taylor and Kenneth Hansen were interviewed during the performance in the arena, while Martin Schanche broke in the build-up his foot and had to skip the event.

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