Audi has provided first details of its electrified Dakar Rally prototype that will make its debut in the famous rally next year.
The brand with the four rings will make use of the technologies it has developed in both Formula E and the DTM, two championships it is incidentally pulling out of, to compete in the Dakar Rally for the first time in 2022.
Project management for the innovative prototype has been taken over by Andreas Roos, who was most recently responsible for the successful DTM program at Audi Sport.
The Dakar prototype uses the motor generator unit (MGU) from the current Formula E car that Audi developed from scratch for the 2021 season.
Three motors will be used: “We will have one MGU on the front axle and one on the rear axle. A third MGU serves as a generator to charge the high-voltage battery while driving,” says Roos. “Of course, we have to make modifications, because the desert has different challenges than in the cities where we are currently racing in Formula E: jumps, sand, the very long stages. But we can basically build on the expertise from Formula E and also from our Le Mans prototypes with the e-tron quattro.”
The high-voltage battery is also developed in-house by Audi. The four-cylinder TFSI engine from the DTM provides the energy to power the battery. “This engine is incredibly efficient and state of the art in terms of weight and consumption,” says Andreas Roos. “The important thing is: our drivetrain is fully electric. The TFSI engine is only used to charge the batteries on the special stages. The battery has to be charged while driving, as there are currently no other options to do so in the desert.” Audi plans to run fully electric on all the liaison stages.
“The Dakar is unique and one of the last great adventures in the world,” says Sven Quandt, who will be running the operation at the Dakar Rally with his Q Motorsport team, together with Audi Sport. “I’m convinced that a brand can gain a lot from participating in the Dakar Rally, especially if you choose an innovative path like Audi has commited to with the electric drivetrain.”
“A good partner strategy is crucial for success in motorsport,” says Julius Seebach. “In Q Motorsport, we have gained an experienced partner with proven Dakar expertise. We plan to present our driver line-ups, which are also very important, in May.”
The first prototype for the Dakar Rally is currently being built at Audi Sport in Neuburg an der Donau. The roll-out is scheduled for the end of June, followed by the world premiere in July. Afterwards, an intensive testing phase is planned before Audi’s first Dakar Rally in January 2022.