'No worries' for Ekstrom

DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom is feeling confident about his first outing as a works Skoda WRC driver on this weekend's Swedish Rally - despite the added pressure of being unexpectedly nominated for manufacturers' championship points

'No worries' for Ekstrom

Ekstrom had originally been lined-up as Skoda's third entry on the event (only two cars per team are eligible for manufacturers' points), but with the team's lead driver Armin Schwarz ruled out after dislocating his shoulder in an accident on the Monte Carlo Rally, Ekstrom has been given greater responsibility.

"The best thing about it is that the team has shown confidence in my ability and that is a very nice feeling," said Ekstrom of his 'promotion'.

"I can't talk about specific results because I don't know what will happen on the event. I want to get through the first stage without any problems and finish the final stage exactly the same way - that's the only target I'm setting myself.

"I am really looking forward to it because it has been the focus of my attention for so many weeks and months now. There is nothing about the rally that is worrying me right now."

At present the Swedish Rally is the only WRC event that Ekstrom is scheduled to contest for Skoda, as his primary focus will be attempting to defend his DTM title with the Czech manufacturer's sister brand Audi. Ekstrom won the Group N category on last season's Catalunya Rally and is tempted by the prospect of a return to the stages later in 2005, but he does not want to risk disrupting his DTM campaign.

"If the Swedish Rally goes well, and I will do my best to achieve that, then it would be nice to do perhaps a tarmac rally at the end of the season," he said. "However I can't mix DTM and WRC during the season because you have to be completely focussed on one or the other.

"I'm very happy that Audi Sport has allowed me this chance to drive for another part of the VW Group in a different sport but once the rally is over my concentration will turn completely to retaining the DTM title. If that season goes well then I might be back in the Fabia WRC, but we'll have to wait and see."

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