The new Audi RS Q e-tron just completed an eight-day endurance test in sweltering heat in Spain on gravel sections of the kind typically used in cross-country rallies.
On the way to its debut at the Dakar Rally in January 2022, the test was important for team of Audi Sport to ensure that the RS Q e-tron is in good shape to take on the unforgiving Dakar Rally.
The roll-out in Neuburg an der Donau on June 30 was an initial functional check for the innovative rally car.
First realistic test
A test in the area of Magdeburg in mid-July was focused on gathering initial experiences on unpaved ground. Now the first test in realistic conditions followed at a test area near the Spanish city of Zaragoza.
All three of Audi Sport’s driver teams took part in the test in Aragon. Dakar record winner Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-driver Edouard Boulanger drove the first stint from Friday to Sunday.
Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist took over the Audi RS Q e-tron on Monday for the next two test days. Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz concluded the intensive trials from Wednesday to Friday.
The three driver teams were obviously impressed with the handling and reliability of the futuristic SUV on the fast gravel sections.
“For a first test in proper conditions for the car I’m really happy how the car behaves already,” said Carlos Sainz on behalf of his fellow drivers.
“I had a really good feeling straight away. Of course, there is fine-tuning to be done – but the starting point is good.”
180 km/h top speed
On the 17 km long gravel sections, the Audi RS Q e-tron achieved a top speed of 180 km/h. In addition, temperatures of up to 34 degrees centigrade in the shade marked an initial litmus test for the cooling concept of the complex vehicle.
“This test was focused on getting in as much driving as possible and detecting weak spots,” development engineer Arnau Niubó Bosch said after more than 1,000 test miles in extremely harsh conditions. “The next test in September will take us into the dunes for the first time.”
The Audi RS Q e-tron uses an all-electric powertrain with two motor-generator units (MGU) from Formula E. The high-voltage battery that has been newly developed by Audi Sport is recharged while driving via an energy converter consisting of the efficient TFSI engine from the DTM and another MGU.
Audi recently announced that it will be competing in the famous Dakar Rally for the first time in 2022, but that’s not all. Representing the brand will be an electric crossover.
It is said that the vehicle will be driven by a powerful electric drivetrain. The energy required for this comes from a high-voltage battery which can be charged as required while driving via an energy converter in the form of a highly efficient TFSI engine.
The aim is to permanently improve the performance of the electric drivetrain and the battery in the years to come. The experience gained in this process should then be incorporated into the further development of future electrified production models.
Audi is the first car manufacturer that has committed to develop a viable alternative drive concept for the Dakar Rally, making it a pioneer in motorsport once again. In 2012, Audi achieved the first victory of a hybrid racing car in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro remained unbeaten in the world’s most important endurance race three times in a row.
Since 2014, Audi has also been successful in fully-electric racing with Formula E. First in a supporting role for the team of its longstanding partner ABT Sportsline, and from 2017 with full factory involvement.
After six years, the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team is the most successful entry in the history of Formula E with a total of 43 podium finishes, including twelve victories. Special highlights include winning the drivers’ title in 2017 and the teams’ title in the first season on a factory level in 2018.
The Dakar Rally will replace Audi’s factory involvement in Formula E, which will no longer be continued in the form of an Audi factory team after the 2021 season. The use of the newly developed Audi powertrain by customer teams will remain possible beyond next year.
Customer racing remains the second major pillar in AUDI AG’s future motorsport program. Audi Sport customer racing will continue to offer its customers a comprehensive model portfolio, as well as intensive service for worldwide racing. In addition, the program includes competing with the Audi R8 LMS in major endurance races like the Nürburgring 24 Hours and in international racing series such as the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
Rally driver Carlos Sainz and his co-driver Lucas Cruz (ESP) have won the Rally Dakar for the third time, having previously triumphed in 2010 and 2018.
In doing so, they presented MINI with its fifth overall victory at the iconic endurance rally.
For MINI and MINI Motorsport partner X-raid, this was the first success since their winning run together, which lasted from 2012 to 2015.
The Spanish pair, in the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy, finished 6:21 minutes ahead of last year’s winner Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) after roughly 7,500 kilometres through Saudi Arabia, which was hosting the Dakar for the first time.
Dakar record winner Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) and his co-driver
Paulo Fiuza (POR) finished third, 9:58 minutes behind Sainz and Cruz, to round
off an impressive performance from the two MINI JCW Buggies.
two MINI JCW Buggy crews each won four stages, while MINI vehicles went fastest
on a total of nine of the twelve days. Vaidotas Zala (LTU) / Saulius Jurgelenas
(LTU), in a MINI JCW Rally, won the very first Dakar stage on Arabian soil on
the opening day.
Seven of the nine MINI crews that started the rally reached the
finish in Al-Quiddia (KSA), four of them in the top ten. Orlando Terranova
(ARG) and Bernardo ‘Ronnie’ Graue (ARG) finished in the top three on three days
on their way to sixth place overall in the four-wheel drive MINI JCW Rally.
favourite Yasir Seaidan (KSA) and his co-driver Alexey Kuzmich (RUS) were ninth
and finished an excellent second on the closing stage. Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygonski
(POL) and co-driver Timo Gottschalk (GER) had their hopes of a top result
dashed on the opening day when a technical issue resulted in them losing six
hours. They eventually finished in 19th place, 8:35.18 seconds off the lead.
MINI vehicles topped the overall standings after every one of
the twelve legs at the 40th staging of the Dakar Rally. Zala and Jurgelenas got
the ball rolling with victory on the opening stage, after which Terranova and
Graue took the overall lead on day two.
and Cruz claimed their first stage win on the third leg. That victory took them
to the top of the overall standings – a position they held right through to the
The 41st edition of the world’s most difficult race has come to an end after 5,000 kilometers driven on extreme terrains.
Gerard de Rooy achieved the third place in the overall classification, winning another podium for Team PETRONAS De Rooy IVECO.
The Team succeeded in taking its four trucks all the way to the last checkpoint, placing all of them in the Top 10.
Meanwhile, Federico Villagra came fourth, with Ton Van Genugten and Maurik van den Heuvel achieving 7th and 10th position in the overall classification.
The first challenge facing every team competing in a Dakar Rally is to reach the final finish line, and only a few manage to do this with all their vehicles: this year, Team PETRONAS De Rooy IVECO has not only won a podium placement, it has also succeeded in taking all four IVECO Powerstars to the finish line in the Top 10.
The Dakar 2019 finished with the stage linking Pisco and Lima with 112 timed kilometers, in which Ton van Genugten won his second special of this year’s edition, making it three special wins for the Team in the ten days of the race.
The three other IVECO Powerstar trucks crossed the finish line shortly after, with Team Leader Gerard de Rooy finishing in the Top 5 for seventh time in this edition of the Dakar. His fifth place in the last stage clinched his place on the podium as third overall.
Federico Villagra finished the most difficult rally raid in the world achieving a fourth position in the overall classification.
Maurik van den Heuvel placed the fourth IVECO Powerstar truck in the Top 10 in the overall classification.
The Dutchman was fourth, achieving another great result for Team PETRONAS De Rooy IVECO, which not only succeeded in taking its four trucks to the finish line, but placed them all in the Top 10.