Audi Sport announced its entry in the FIA World Rallycross Championship (World RX) after confirming that it will provide the EKS RX team with full factory backing for the 2017 season.

In 2016, the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro piloted by Mattias Ekstrom and Toomas Heikkinen secured both the drivers’ and the teams’ world championships, with Ekstrom winning the former in spite of strong competition from Ford, Peugeot, Volkswagen and numerous privateer teams. “We realize that it’s going to be increasingly difficult for EKS to hold its own against the factory teams, so we chose to intensify our World RX commitment,” explained Dieter Gass, head of Audi Motorsport.

“We laid a lot of groundwork as a team in the first three years, gathered important experiences and set new standards with EKS. But it was also clear to us that we’d need support for the future in order to be able to continue on this level. That EKS is now receiving factory backing by Audi makes me very happy,” said Ekstrom.

Last year, Audi revealed its realigned motorsport strategy, which included a shock exit from the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The carmaker will instead focus on the all-electric Formula E racing series, the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) racing series and now, the World RX Championship.

According to the draft calendar for the 2017 World RX, the opening round will take place in Barcelona, Spain from April 1-2, followed by Montalegre, Portugal from April 22-23. In total, there will be 12 rounds including an all-new race at the Killarney circuit in Cape Town, South Africa from November 11-12.