In January 2022 the next edition of the famous Dakar Rally will start, and over the years we’ve seen some really spectacular cars, bikes, and trucks competing in this grueling desert race, but the 2022 edition will see a rather special entry at the starting grid, the Audi Sport RS Q e-tron … yes, you are reading that correctly, a hybrid rally car.
You can only do so much testing in Germany or Spain, so to get some more ‘real time’ data Audi Sport took their RS Q e-tron together with the three driver crews to Morocco, none other than previous Dakar record winner Stéphane Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz and Mattias Ekström would be taking this highly complex prototype into the desert where temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (or 104°F) were measured during these hard test sessions.
“We expect much lower temperatures at the Dakar Rally,” says Andreas Roos. “Nevertheless, we deliberately went to Morocco to test our concept under the most extreme conditions. Components such as the MGU, for example, were basically not developed for use in such high ambient temperatures, but the drivetrain and other components were also pushed to their limits or even beyond by the heat. The insights we gained in Morocco are invaluable, but they also show us that we still have a lot to do before the Dakar Rally and there is not much time left.”
To make sure this Audi RS Q e-tron has any chance at finishing the Dakar rally, they developed a bespoke high-voltage battery, where the main focus is on managing the temperature while being able to pull the maximum amount of power from this power cell for sustained periods of time, in a hot and dusty environment like the Dakar desert.
Power in the Audi RS Q e-tron comes from two Formula E electric motors, found in the FE07, one on each axle, while a turbocharged 2-Liter four-cylinder engine taken from the 2020 DTM RS5 race car will charge the 50 kWh battery as a generator … total power output is said to be 671 hp before regulations might come in to restrict that number.
In January we will be seeing three RS Q e-tron start the Dakar Rally, over the two weeks following the departure there will be daily stages, some nearly 500 miles, that will really put the new Audi electric powertrain to the test, and the Dakar Rally is only the first stop for Audi Sport, as they have left Formula E and the DTM now to focus entirely on Le Mans next.