Audi tram wants to revolutionize the Dakar

An electric 4×4 buggy, with two Formula E engines, plus another gasoline-powered buggy to charge the batteries, will be the big news for the race that starts tomorrow in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Audi electric e-tron has 680 horsepower and Peterhansel considers it an “airplane”

Stéphane Peterhansel, who has 14 victories in 33 appearances, and Carlos Sainz have won seven of the last ten editions of the Dakar Rally, as from Saturday they will be the leaders of an Audi that debuts to place the biggest race on all terrain in a new dimension: they will, together with the Swede Matias Ekstrom, pilot the RS Q e-tron, the first electric candidate for victory.

The Audi is not the first electric in the toughest race in the world. In 2017, an Acciona reached the goal of Buenos Aires, but in 57th and last. It had a solar panel and debited 340 horsepower, being a pioneering project like the one that in this edition takes Cyril Després to align for the second time with a hydrogen prototype. In the German team everything is different.

Sven Quandt directs a squad of 80 people in the desert who can hardly disguise their modesty. “We’ve never had such a complex vehicle. We’re on the Dakar with great respect,” says Julius Seebach, director of Audi Sport, referring to a vehicle that Stéphane Peterhansel defines simply: “It’s like flying an airplane. nothing complicated”.

To avoid the problems with charging, the RS Q e-tron takes a four-cylinder 2.0 liter turbo gasoline engine that was in the DTM, but functioning as an energy converter only connected to the 50 kWh batteries, which weigh 370 kg. These are the ones that supply the two electric motors coming from the Formula E that make the four wheels turn, and the transmission is also electric.

The Audi, developed in record time, ran many tests but never competed, which is anybody’s guess. “For us it will be complicated, having a third man, which will be Nasser. And little is known about the BRX of Nani and Seb, which can be a surprise”, says Peterhansel, parading the favorites. Toyota will be in the front row, with Nasser Al-Attiya, while Nani Roma and Sébastien Loeb will have a second generation of biofuel prototypes. The Dakar really is in a new era!


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