• CUPRA driver Mattias Ekström prepares physically and mentally for the gruelling Extreme E competition with the help of professional fighter Madeleine Vall
  • In this extreme championship, drivers will drive electric SUVs through desert, arctic, ocean, jungle and glacier areas
  • Extreme E kicks off next April 3 with the desert stage in Saudi Arabia

Ice, sand, jungle, ocean, snow… driving in such adverse conditions is no easy feat, especially when you’re up against the stopwatch. That’s why driver Mattias Ekström, who will compete in Extreme E racing with the Abt CUPRA XE team, has to prepare himself physically and mentally. The Swedish driver is currently finalising his training for the championship, where the drivers will race electric SUVs in desert, arctic, ocean, jungle and glacier areas. But he’s not training alone – CUPRA ambassador and professional fighter Madeleine Vall, who appeared in Wonder Woman as Amazon Warrior Egeria, is there to help him.

– Body to the limit. “In motorsport maybe you don’t have to train to be the strongest and brawny guy, but it’s very important to work on your ability to concentrate and your endurance” explains Ekström. Even so, Vall has worked with the racer to overcome the physical challenges: “She’s a really strong woman who has helped me to be tougher and to endure whatever comes my way as I go into a competition as demanding as Extreme E” he says.

– Training as a driver. Apart from physical preparation, Ekström also trains as a driver. How? By driving. “My reflexes have to stay sharp, I have to handle the steering wheel at high speed and master the brake and accelerator” he explains. And he adds: “You train this by driving, so I take the opportunity to go out in my CUPRA Formentor in the snow whenever I can, and I also have a simulator at home to get into the racing atmosphere.”

– Mens sana in corpore sano. However, the most important thing for the racer is to train his mind: “You can be very strong physically, but if you don’t work on your concentration and how to deal with stress, it affects the way you drive and how you deal with the race.” To this end, Ekström applies a strategy that combines physical and mental exercise with driving: “If I didn’t drive for a while, for example, my eyes would get tired more often, because in a race you have to go at high speed while also watching your competitors and keeping an eye on the track” he points out. “It’s vital to stay alert to be able to make good decisions in less than a second, so stress management is paramount” the driver explains.

– A competition of extremes. Extreme E kicks off on April 3rd with the desert stage in Saudi Arabia, but this is only the beginning of an odyssey that will visit four continents and five different terrains. The next stages are taking place between May 29th and December 12th 2021 at Senegal’s Lac Rose, on the ice of Greenland, in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon and on the glacier in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. On the Abt CUPRA XE team, the Swede is teaming up with veteran German driver Claudia Hürtgen. “I feel ready for this adventure: Claudia, the CUPRA team and I have worked very hard to get to this competition and we’re going all out” Ekström concludes.