Audi is no stranger to the world of motorsport. The German automaker has a rich history of success in various racing disciplines, such as Le Mans, Formula E, and DTM. But now, Audi is taking on a new challenge: the Dakar Rally.

The Dakar Rally is one of motorsport's most grueling and demanding events. It is a two-week-long off-road endurance race that covers thousands of kilometers across harsh terrain, such as deserts, mountains, and dunes. The Dakar Rally tests not only the vehicles' speed and performance but also the drivers' and co-drivers stamina and skill.

Audi is the first manufacturer to enter the Dakar Rally with an electric vehicle: the Audi RS Q e-tron. This innovative prototype combines an electric drivetrain with a high-voltage battery and a highly efficient energy converter. The Audi RS Q e-tron is designed to cope with the extreme conditions of the Dakar Rally while also showcasing Audi’s vision for the future of mobility.

The Audi RS Q e-tron: A Unique Concept

The Audi RS Q e-tron is not a conventional electric vehicle. It does not rely on charging stations or external power sources to replenish its battery. Instead, it uses a specially developed TFSI engine from the DTM series as a generator to supply electricity to the battery. The TFSI engine runs at a constant and optimal speed of around 4,500 rpm, regardless of the driving situation. This ensures a high level of efficiency and a low level of emissions.

The battery is the heart of the Audi RS Q e-tron. It weighs about 370 kilograms and has a capacity of around 50 kWh. It is located between the axles in the safest possible position. The battery provides power to four electric motors, two on each axle, that drive the wheels. The electric motors are the same ones Audi uses in Formula E, with some modifications for the Dakar Rally. The electric motors deliver a maximum output of 500 kW or about 680 horsepower.

The Audi RS Q e-tron also features a sophisticated energy management system that optimizes power distribution and consumption. Depending on the terrain and the driving mode, the system allows for variable and selective torque distribution to each wheel. The system also recovers energy during braking and coasting and stores it in the battery for later use.

The Audi RS Q e-tron: A Successful Debut

The Audi RS Q e-tron made its debut at the 2022 Dakar Rally, where it faced tough competition from other manufacturers, such as Toyota, Mini, and Peugeot. The Audi team consisted of three driver crews: Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger, Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz, and Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist.

The Audi RS Q e-tron proved its potential by scoring four stage victories and 14 stage podium results during the two-week event. The Audi team also led the overall standings for three days and was in contention for the top positions until the final stages. However, the Audi RS Q e-tron also encountered technical issues and setbacks, such as punctures, accidents, and penalties, that prevented it from achieving a better result. The best-placed Audi crew was Peterhansel and Boulanger, who finished in 10th place overall.

Despite the challenges, the Audi team gained valuable experience and data from the 2022 Dakar Rally, which they used to further improve the Audi RS Q e-tron for the next edition.

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The Audi RS Q e-tron: An Improved Version

The Audi RS Q e-tron underwent several upgrades and modifications for the 2023 Dakar Rally, where it aimed to challenge for the victory. The Audi team focused on enhancing the reliability, safety, and comfort of the vehicle, as well as reducing its weight and maintenance time.

Some of the main improvements of the Audi RS Q e-tron for the 2023 Dakar Rally were:

  • A new cooling system that increased the efficiency and durability of the battery and the electric motors.
  • A revised suspension that improved the handling and stability of the vehicle, as well as the comfort of the drivers and co-drivers.
  • A reinforced roll cage that increased the protection of the occupants in case of a crash.
  • A redesigned bodywork that reduced the drag and the wind noise and improved the aerodynamics and the visibility of the vehicle.
  • A lighter and more compact energy converter that reduced the fuel consumption and the emissions of the vehicle.
  • A new software optimized the vehicle's energy management and torque distribution.

The Audi RS Q e-tron also participated in some preparatory events before the 2023 Dakar Rally, such as the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Morocco Rally, where it demonstrated its performance and reliability. The Audi RS Q e-tron achieved its first overall victory at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, winning four out of five stages.

The Audi RS Q e-tron: A Future Champion

The 2023 Dakar Rally was another learning opportunity for the Audi team, who continued to push and work hard until the end of the event. The Audi RS Q e-tron scored another 14 podium results on 15 event days and showed its speed and strength on various types of terrain. However, the Audi RS Q e-tron also faced some difficulties and misfortunes, such as mechanical failures, navigation errors, and time losses, that prevented it from reaching the top positions. The best-placed Audi crew was Sainz and Cruz, who finished in 14th place overall.

The Audi team was not satisfied with the result but was proud of the progress and the potential of the Audi RS Q e-tron. The Audi team is determined to keep improving and developing the vehicle and to come back stronger and faster for the 2024 Dakar Rally, where it hopes to achieve its ultimate goal: to win the Dakar Rally with an electric vehicle.

The Audi RS Q e-tron is more than just a race car. It is a symbol of Audi’s commitment to innovation and sustainability. It is a showcase of Audi’s expertise and vision in electric mobility. It is a challenge to the limits of technology and endurance. It is a dream of a future champion. @via DPCcars.

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