Green: Timing of Ekstrom's DTM exit for World RX 'strange'

Audi's Jamie Green says he found the timing of Mattias Ekstrom's decision to leave the DTM to fully focus on the 2018 World Rallycross Championship "strange"

Green: Timing of Ekstrom's DTM exit for World RX 'strange'

Two-time DTM champion Ekstrom called an end on his 17-year spell in the series over the winter, as a result of increased Audi backing of his WRX team and a desire to spend more time with his family rather than balance two series.

Ekstrom, who is Audi's most successful DTM driver, then decided to compete in a farewell weekend at Hockenheim.

His best result at Hockenheim was 16th, having not tested and with Audi stretched to run a seventh car.

But Green says he was surprised to hear Ekstrom's decision to leave the DTM over the winter.

"It's a bit strange," Green told Autosport. "When I heard that he was stopping over the winter time I was surprised because I would have thought he would have said something last year [if he was quitting].

"I think he was so focused on last season and when it was over - obviously he was gunning for the championship last year and didn't get it, so he was probably focused on that - and decided it was the right time to stop.

"It was a surprise I didn't see coming at the time. The fact he's here racing even though he's stopped [full-time] is also a bit unusual.

"But on a personal note, Mattias is a really likeable character and I think you either love him or you hate him, but I think most people actually like him."

When Ekstrom was asked by Autosport on Friday if he was expecting an emotional weekend, he said: "I think it's wonderful.

"You spend so many years somewhere, on the one side it's hard, on the other side it's also the end of a chapter and it always starts a new one."

He added that arriving at Hockenheim with no testing or preparation was an odd feeling.

"In some ways, I don't miss it," he said. "It's strange but that's how it is, I feel like I achieved a lot, we won some [23] races, two championships.

"I'm proud of the number of podiums [76] and I feel I have entertained people well over the years."

Audi DTM boss Dieter Gass told Autosport he wished Audi could provide a more successful finale for Ekstrom.

"He would have liked to [have been] a bit more in the mix-up front and we would have loved to give him the chance to do it. He handled the day [well]," Gass said.

"If you see how the fans reacted to his burnouts there at the end of the race, I think it was a well-deserved farewell from DTM.

"Thanks to Mattias for everything he did for Audi over the past 17 years. It isn't a definitive goodbye, he carries on in WRX."

ITR boss Gerhard Berger suggested to Autosport that Ekstrom's exit from the DTM would not be final, although Gass disagreed with his assessment.

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