Mattias Ekstrom expressed his delight after winning a tight stage 8 of the Dakar Rally in the cars category.

Ekstrom found himself in the lead at the final waypoint of the stage after drifting behind the leaders for most of the day. He went from being 3 minutes behind at the 321st kilometer to leading by a minute 37km later.

Stephane Peterhansel displayed rapid pace throughout the stage, occupying the first place at most of the checkpoints. However, fellow Audi driver Ekstrom just beat him at the finish line. The two teammates were separated by only 49 seconds by the end. It was a tense race that Mattias Ekstrom revealed afterward he thoroughly enjoyed.

“We had a very good beginning, but then in the dunes, I felt I was very careful and even too slow,” Ekstrom commented. “I didn’t have any good rhythm at all.

“After the regrouping, I felt a lot more confident and we caught up with Yazeed [Al-Rajhi] and were in his dust for quite some time. I was hoping that he would let us go because I was having a day to my taste. As soon as he let me go, I was pushing hard. I had a really, really enjoyable drive and Emil [Bergkvist, co-driver] did fantastic navigation for the whole stage.

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

The 2022 event is Mattias Ekstrom’s first entry into the treacherous rally raid in the cars category. As of the end of stage 8, the World Rallycross champion sits 11th in the overall standings, over 2 hours off the lead. Despite his distance to the overall lead, Ekstrom has been able to uncover positive experiences.

“I don’t know what it’s like to win, it’s not done yet. I guess there are some fast guys behind us arriving as well, but it’s always great when you have success. We are all fighting to have a good result.

“For Emil and myself, we feel like the rookies here, learning every day and trying to manage the risk and there are so many kilometers where you can have a mistake. Today, I’m happy because we didn’t do any, maybe we were too conservative, but there are still many days to go.”

Ekstrom also commented on the condition of his electric-powered Audi.

“I think the car is good. I’m also starting to get confident with the set-up. We have found a set-up that I like a lot. But we have to develop the car much more. It’s still a very young car in its lifetime.”

I am a 17-year-old motorsport fan and writer who possesses a strong passion for machines that go fast. I am from Australia but I aspire to be a journalist covering motor racing series and events all over the globe.