• Electric drive concept of low-emission race car highly efficient
• Board member Oliver Hoffmann: “We’ll be back in 2024”
Saudi Arabia – January17, 2023:Team Audi Sport shaped the2023 Dakar Rally with innovation and performance right up to the end. The Audi RS Q e-tron, with its electric drive concept, scored a total of 14 podiumresults on 15 event days, including the prologue. In addition, the Audi drivers led the rally inSaudi Arabia with the prototype for three days for the first time.
Oliver Hoffmann, Board Member for Technical Development at Audi, visited the motorsportteam on the final weekend in Saudi Arabia and lauded many achievements: “The pace of ourinnovative Audi RS Q e-tron was good right from the start and also showed at the end.Unfortunately, we had some bad luck in the desert and multiple punctures. Despite the setbacks, theteam celebrated itsfinish – the thanks to strong performances. Apodium was our goal. It remains so, andwe will definitely compete again in 2024.”
Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist led the world’s toughest desert rally after the prologue, theirteammates Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz on the two following days. However, a series of 14punctures on the first four desert stages, spread across all three driver teams, cost Audi valuabletime. Further setbacks followed when Carlos Sainz damaged his suspension in the scree of thethird stage and in an accident on the sixth stage. Similarly, a stone invisible in the desert dustdestroyed a suspension on Mattias Ekström’s car on the seventh stage. The 14-time Dakarwinner, Stéphane Peterhansel, was no longer in the race at this point. After jumping off a dune,his car landed so hard that co-driver Edouard Boulanger was taken to hospital with back pain. However, all thismakes the motivation and performance of Team Audi Sport in the bivouac, as well as the racetruck team on the stages, all the more remarkable.
“Three stageresults in the top three showed what was possible,” says Stéphane Peterhansel. The day before retirement, the Frenchdriver pairing was still in a promising position in second place overall. With Carlos Sainz/LucasCruz, a second Audi driver duo followed just behind in fourth place. Five times the Spaniard and his co-driver Lucas Cruz finished among the topthree in the stage results until their retirement.All hopes, therefore, rested on Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist. The Swedes, who are contestingonly their third Dakar Rally, once again mastered the demanding competition with more than4,200 special stage kilometres and almost 8,900 kilometres in total as the best Audi team. “Itwas a tough rally: we never gave up even after the high-time losses,” said two-time DTMChampion and World Rallycross Champion Ekström. “When we didn’t have confidence in theroadbook on individual days, we took some speed out, otherwise we measured ourselves againstthe front runners.” With great success: from the ninth stage onwards, the Scandinavians wereamong the top four, six times in a row. Navigatingthe demanding sand dunes in the Empty Quarter,Ekström/Bergkvist even achieved third and second place of the day on the marathon stagewithout evening service on January 12 and 13. In total, they were among the top three in thestage rankings six times during the 2023 Dakar Rally.