Sainz steps back from XE after Dakar injury

He is being replaced by Audi cross-country team-mate Mattias Ekström

Fanzone meet and greet, Carlos Sainz (ESP), Acciona | Sainz XE Team

Two-time World Rally champion Carlos Sainz won’t compete in Extreme E this season.

Sainz, who has partnered Laia Sanz at the Acciona Sainz team for the first two seasons of XE, is still recovering from his Dakar Rally crash in January where he broke two of his vertebrae.

Sainz will continue to travel with the team as an advisor, but his place behind the wheel has been handed to Audi cross-country team-mate Mattias Ekström who drove for the Abt Cupra squad in 2021.

“Mattias is the best signing we could have hoped for, for this new season,” said Sainz.

“I know him well and I trust him completely because I know what he is capable of: I believe he is one of the best and most multifaceted race drivers in the world, and therefore it is an honor that he gets to defend the colours of Acciona Sainz XE Team.

“I have raced against him in Extreme E and know him as my team-mate in Audi in the raids, so I am aware of his potential and strengths.


“I myself will do all I can to help the team achieve its goals. I will be attending the races and supporting them to get the best results we can.”

Ekström added: “Carlos is one of my childhood idols and since we are team-mates in Audi’s Dakar project, we’ve become friends, so it feels special and even emotional to join his team at Extreme E.

“With me stepping in for Carlos, it will give him more time to recover from the accident he suffered at Dakar.

“Even though it was a very late decision to join the team, I will do my best to bring success to Acciona Sainz XE Team this season and I hope we can fight for race wins and titles.

“I look forward to meeting all the team members in person and working with Carlos as my team boss, as I’m sure it will be a fun and valuable experience.”

Sanz will once again form part of the driver lineup this season.

The Extreme E season begins in Saudi Arabia next weekend (March 11/12). All Extreme E events will be double-headers for the first time in 2023, meaning it is now a 10-round championship.

Words:Luke Barry