The Audi RS Q e-tron Rally Car Ready For More Desert Racing

Motorsport / Comments

Audi is preparing its electric rally car to race in Abu Dhabi.

Audi has always been a trend-setter in the realm of motorsport, and especially in the exciting world of rally racing. A few decades ago, the German manufacturer introduced the world to its quattro all-wheel-drive AWD Group B rally monsters, and now it's once again making headlines with its EV rally car based on the Audi RS e-tron GT.

Despite not achieving an overall win in the recently-held Dakar Rally, this all-electric EV racecar still managed to clinch a stage victory, making it the first in the history of the famous, and fantastically grueling race. After its Dakar success, the RS Q e-tron rally car faces its next big challenge at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge from March 6-10.

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Audi's second outing with the prototype racer will be led by factory drivers Stephane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger, and Audi could not have asked for a better team. Peterhansel has won this event a stunning seven times on motorcycles and four-wheelers.

"Stephane Peterhansel brings the highest level of experience to this event in particular. Two terms stand for the Dakar debut of Stephane with co-driver Edouard Boulanger in the Audi RS Q e-tron: stage victory and strong team play. Even in the face of setbacks they demonstrated first-class sportsmanship and put themselves entirely at the service of the team. Now they can show in Abu Dhabi what's possible in sporting terms in our second rally event," says Julius Seebach, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH and responsible for motorsport at Audi.

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The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge consists of five stages in the Al Dhafra region on the southern border with Saudi Arabia. Each stage spans between 217 and 318 kilometers (135 to 200 miles) for a total of 1,342 kilometers (834 miles). Despite its relatively short distance, Peterhansel understands the difficulty posed by some of these stages.

"Experience shows that around 80 percent of the route of this rally is in large dune mountains, the remaining 20 percent on flatter sandy ground without any tracks. At the Dakar, there were at most 60 kilometers of dunes at a stretch. Likewise, the heat is higher now than in January," he says.

This race will also pose a new challenge for the EV Audi: extreme heat. The area will have higher temperatures than the Audi team faced during the Dakar rally, and warmer sand is softer, leading to higher energy consumption, but team Audi believes that the RS Q e-tron's torque and variable drive system will help it stay on top of things.

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"Our energy systems performed very well in January. The tasks in Abu Dhabi are a clear increase. The dune crests are the most difficult: If you drive too slowly, you lose time or get stuck. If you're too fast, you risk jumping into the unknown. With conventional rally cars, you always have to decide on a gear and can make a mistake. The continuously variable drive of the Audi RS Q e-tron on the other hand is perfect, as is the high torque," says Peterhansel.

With every successful race, Audi's knowledge of EV racing under extreme conditions grows, and with it, EV technology that will invariably trickle down into its production models. Isn't motorsport grand?

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