The next Dakar Rally 2022 It will be one of the most interesting in recent years. There will debut a new generation of prototypes, who will be in charge of fighting – or so it should be – for victory. Apart from the T1 + with an exclusively thermal engine, such as the Toyota or Prodrive, the great highlight for the great revolution that it supposes is the new Audi RS Q e-tron in the also new category T1e.
As we already knew and as we already discovered in the exclusive premiere who lived AUTOPISTA at the entrances to the headquarters of Audi Sport in Germany, It’s about a 4×4 prototype equipped with two electric motors – one per axle – to power the car, but with another block equipped with a four-cylinder turbo gasoline engine and another electric motor that acts as a generator to charge the 50 kWh battery when the car is in motion. A complex mechanical and electronic framework that Audi Sport has developed and tuned in just one year from a blank page.
Just a few weeks after starting your journey to Saudi Arabia for his first Dakar, without having performed any test as such as preparation, we have returned to the Audi Sport home near Munich to discover the latest advances and being able to see the car in action. It has not been a test to use, since we have seen the Audi RS Q e-tron roll in asphalt circuit, where Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz They have been in charge of carrying out system and software checks to verify that everything fits and everything is well connected.
We see the Audi RS Q e-tron live and in motion
As a good electrician, he emits his characteristic buzzing, which will be the main sound we will hear during the Dakar. While the heat engine (the same one that Audi uses in the DTM, but limited to running in the 4,500-6,000 rpm range) makes itself heard, it isn’t quite as cheeky. At least from the outside, because Lucas Cruz, Carlos Sainz’s co-driver assures that the sound from the cabin is quite annoying.
It is not the environment in which he will move in Saudi Arabia to fight for victory, but we could see that shows a car quite well balanced under braking and in small jumps, thanks to its very low center of gravity and the balance of weights thanks to the position of the battery, and that despite the more than two tons who declares before the scale. The three riders of the team – Ekström, Peterhansel and the aforementioned Sainz – highlighted us the car fortress in the dunes, so we will have to be very attentive to how they perform in the stages that the Dakar will have with the sand as the protagonist.
In Germany we were also able to listen to those responsible for the project, both from Stefan dreyer, Head of Development at Audi Sport, as well as Sven Quandt, responsible for Q Motorsport, the team that helps and supports the brand with the four rings on its first Dakar adventure. The great challenge all these months especially has been combine all the section of sensors, electronics, motors … so that they work properly in an environment as wild as the one presented in the Dakar. The more than 8,000 km of test They have taken place in Germany, Zaragoza and Morocco twice, where they have put each of the components to the limit.
On Audi Sport they still are cautious and aiming to “finish the rally” as a great objective and to be able to win some stages. The Audi RS Q e-tron still you need to further adjust your final weight, since the regulation obliges them to comply with the 2 tons, but he is still “a little overweight”. Combine all this with the challenge of electrical mechanics, software (of our own development), simple damping in the suspensions and adjusting to what the regulation says in sections such as weight or fuel tank (limited to 300 liters , compared to more than 500 of the competition), it is still a challenge in the last stages of car tuning. Madrid and Saudi Arabia They will be the last places where Sainz, Peterhansel and Ekström’s cars will finish tuning before actually heading out to race the Dakar.
Carlos Sainz, a little more cautious
The Matador has wanted highlight the work of the entire team before the “huge challenge“Which means the development of this Audi RS Q e-tron in such a short time. Recognize the difficulty from the beginning, taking very slow steps at the beginning and, little by little, rolling at race pace. Driving will be an aspect to take into account for all the pilots of the team, since the electrical mechanics make them drive without having to change gears, but also to be attentive to reliability in the first year of the project.
The three Audi RS Q e-tron They will have the decoration that you see in the images, without sponsors. The only way you will have to distinguish them on television and photos will be by the numbers and, above all, by the color of the rear view mirrors: black for Sainz, white for Peterhansel and red for Ekström. The Spanish dared to say to the media in Spain a few weeks ago that they couldn’t rule out fighting for victory, but this time he wanted to be more cautious and, at the same time, highlight the enormous work done until then.
“The first year of a car, whatever it is, is always difficult, but with this one even more so. I was able to shoot in Morocco in a distance of more than 400 kilometersWhen the first year with the Peugeot I did not go more than 150 km without breaking. The last tests were very good”. We were also able to speak with Peterhansel, who faces, like Sainz, the umpteenth new challenge to try to win the Dakar. “There hasn’t been enough time, but we’ll be going full throttle from day one”, Warns. In just a few weeks, as of January 2, we can check it.