Audi made waves during the 2022 Dakar Rally with its incredible electric RS Q e-tron, the first fully electric car to compete in the prestigious event. The Dakar Rally is one of motorsport’s most grueling events and one of the most brutal tests for man and machine. The 2022 Dakar Rally marked Audi’s return to global rally competition as it took on the power of rivals such as Toyota. Audi calls it the most complex car in its history, and driven by Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz, Audi made waves and worried its rivals.
Audi took four stage wins in the 2022 Dakar Rally with its new Quattro, but they couldn’t compete for the overall victory. Early issues certainly marred the car, but we all have to remember that this was the first competition outing of an all-new type of rally car. Now, however, the German automaker is eagerly awaiting its latest attempt with the RS Q e-tron. Audi is looking to take on the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, where it will field a car with Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger in round two of the FIA World Rally Raid Championship.
Take the next step in the world of electric vehicles
To appreciate Audi’s commitment to the electric world right now, we have to look at the vehicle they’re using. The RS Q e-tron is an exceptional machine with truly astounding performance. The drivetrain is the one developed from the team’s last Formula E car which took two wins in the 2021 season. That powertrain is the MGU05, and there are two electric motors at the heart of the e- tron. One on the front axle and one on the rear axle of the car.
And there’s a lot of power coming from these engines. In total, the e-tron has some 400bhp of electric performance to unleash. Plenty of power for the tough desert terrain it will find itself in. The 0-62mph time is just 4.5 seconds, and the rally raider has a top speed of 170kph, or around 105mph, something the car is also limited to. And it’s very smart in the way it charges too. It does this halfway through, and it has a third MGU05 that acts as a generator, which collects energy from its cable brake system as it decelerates. As electric regeneration is difficult in the desert, it is very impressive.
Preparing for Abu Dhabi
Audi is currently preparing its electric rally car for Abu Dhabi. And he has a lot of pedigree behind the wheel. Peterhansel is a man who has won several times the event created by the new FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem in 1991 under the name of UAE Desert Challenge. Since 2002, he has won six car victories at the event, as well as a victory in 1996 on a motorcycle. Audi recognizes this, and Juliuis Seebach, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH, said: “Stéphane Peterhansel also brings the highest level of experience to this particular event.”
The rally consists of five stages in the Al Dhafra region, on the southern border with Saudi Arabia. It’s much shorter than the Dakar Rally, but it will still be a tough test for rider and machine. The stages are between 134 and 197 miles, and in total the rally will total some 833 miles. And much of the rally is in long dune mountains, and Peterhanesel says “the heat is higher now than in January”, so conditions for the drivers could be tougher than in Dakar.
Different competition and easier navigation
Audi says competition in Abu Dhabi differs in one key area from Dakar. Navigation is much easier. No “hidden waypoint” for co-pilot Edouard Boulanger this time, with virtual land markers clearly indicated in the organizer’s navigation aids. But it also means that those with incredibly high sailing skills, like Boulanger, will have less of an advantage over those who may still be honing their craft. That in itself provides an interesting element to this rally, which means it is perhaps more in the hands of the driver than it was in Dakar.
The next step for the e-tron
It’s the next step in Audi’s ambition to turn its electric car into a rally winner. The pace it showed in Dakar was enormous, and four stage wins underscored that perhaps all the e-tron needed was refinement and improved reliability. It is, after all, the first of its kind, and it was the first time that Audi participated in this great event. A victory in Abu Dhabi would be a historic milestone for Audi itself and its new RS q e-tron, and perhaps a watershed moment for the future of the rally.
Long before Audi unveiled the RS Q e-tron, the racing engineering team was already actively involved in the Dakar Rally.
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