Charged endurance racing solidifies its feasibility.
At long last, after facing three difficult trials, Audi has emerged victorious in the 2024 Dakar Rally with their vehicle, the RS Q e-tron. The success of the Spanish duo consisting of driver Carlos Sainz and navigator Lucas Cruz has brought great pride to the company. Furthermore, this is a groundbreaking achievement as it is the first time an electric drivetrain has claimed the top spot at the event. Specifically, it was a low-emission prototype equipped with an electric drive, high-capacity battery, and energy converter that secured the historic win.
As you may be aware, this exceptional all-terrain vehicle boasts a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (derived from an Audi DTM racecar) which serves as a generator for the battery pack that feeds the electric motors propelling each wheel (similar to the setup found in the latest Ram 1500 Ramcharger). The total power generated by this system can reach up to 670 horsepower, but it is not just raw strength that sets it apart.
Audi has made two previous attempts at the Dakar Rally. However, in 2022, extensive damage ultimately dashed their hopes of triumph. Towards the conclusion of that same year, Audi decided to revamp the vehicle and initiated tests with an improved version, incorporating the lessons learned from the setbacks faced in the 2022 event. Nevertheless, despite these efforts, last year’s endeavor was met with further obstacles, such as unexpected tire losses, suspension impairments, crashes, and somersaults. While there were some shining moments, including a stage victory, Audi recognized that there was still plenty of work to be done in order to ensure the reliability of their electric buggy for a victorious finish. Determined to achieve this, they carried out additional upgrades at the end of last year, which have ultimately paid off.
The triumph is made even more gratifying by the fact that Sainz and Cruz held the top spot since the sixth out of 12 stages.
“After just three years, we have successfully conquered one of the most significant obstacles in motorsport with our groundbreaking electrified drive,” stated Oliver Hoffmann, the member of Audi’s board in charge of technical development. “This accomplishment adds to the extensive history of pioneering triumphs that have defined Audi’s presence in motorsport for over four decades.”
Although the insights gained from this endeavor may not immediately translate into a roadworthy vehicle such as the Audi SQ8 e-tron, it is certain that this accomplishment will have practical advantages in the future. Most significantly, it demonstrates that even in competition with the most advanced combustion engines, an electric machine can prevail.
Sadly, 2024 marks the end of Audi’s participation in the Dakar program, as they shift their focus to their Formula 1 venture set for 2026. This is truly a bittersweet moment for Audi, as they make a grand exit from the competition stage.