An electric four-wheel drive vehicle, with two Formula E engines, as well as another petrol-powered vehicle for charging the batteries, will be the important news for the race that will start tomorrow in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Audi electric e-tron has 680 hp and Peterhansel considers it an “plane”
Stéphane Peterhansel, who has won 14 victories in 33 matches, and Carlos Sainz in seven of the last 10 editions of the Dakar Rally, from Saturday, will be the leaders of the Audi that will stage the biggest all-terrain race in a new dimension: they will, with Swede Matthias Ekström , led by the RS Q e-tron, the electric frontrunner to win.
Audi is not the first electric car in the world’s toughest race. In 2017, Acciona reached the goal of Buenos Aires, but in 57th and last place. It had a solar panel and a 340 hp opponent, being a pioneering project like the one that in this version takes Cyril Després to align for the second time with a hydrogen prototype. Everything in the German national team is different.
Sven Quant runs a squad of 80 people in the desert who can hardly hide their modesty. “We have never owned such a complex car. We are in the Dakar with great respect,” says Julius Seebach, director of Audi Sport, referring to the car that Stefan Peterhansel knows simply: “It’s like flying an airplane. Nothing complicated.”
To avoid charging problems, the RS Q e-tron takes the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that was on the DTM, but works as a power inverter connected only to the 50 kWh batteries, which weigh 370 kg. These are the ones that power the two electric motors coming from Formula E that make all four wheels spin, and the transmission is electric as well.
Audi, which was developed in record time, made many tests but never competed, which is anyone’s guess. “For us it would be complicated, to have a third man, it would be Nasser. Not much is known about BRX for Nani Wasp, which could come as a surprise,” says Peterhansel, reviewing the two favorites. Toyota will be in the front row with Nasser Al-Attiyah, while Nani Roma and Sebastien Loeb will have the second generation of biofuel models. Dakar is truly in a new era!
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