Audi made big headlines in the world of motorsport when it introduced its RS Q e-tron Dakar Rally racer. The electric Dakar rally race car is innovative and technologically impressive, with two electric motors that drive the car and a battery that’s constantly charged by a small gasoline engine. While it’s not a pure BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle), due to that gas engine, its means of propulsion is entirely electric. As it turns out, such a setup makes it quite fast in the desert. Maybe a little too fast.
The Audi RS Q e-tron suffered a few setbacks during this past Dakar Rally, including a crash and a navigational snafu. However, without those things, it’s likely the RS Q e-tron, with its innovative powertrain, would have challenged the best in the race for the overall title.
At the moment, there are three different categories of Dakar Rally cars. There are T1 cars, which are purposed-built Dakar racers; T2 cars, which are production vehicles modified for Dakar; and there are cars that fit in the OPEN category, which are cars that don’t meet specific FIA categories, such as electric a hybrid cars.
Many of Audi’s competitors in the Dakar Rally feel that the FIA needs to adjust the rules to create better parity between T1 cars and other hybrid/electric cars, as the Audi RS Q e-tron proved to be faster than everything else.
“I think we have to find a good balance now, because it’s very clear this year it will be between Toyota and ourselves, but everyone knows that the Audi is way faster than all our cars now,” Prodrive team chairman David Richards told Motorsport.
“[The Audi is] the fastest car by a long way. So we have to find a balance so everyone has an equal competition. And that’s the job for the FIA to achieve that. Otherwise, Audi would come and kill the sport. So we have to sort that out.”
Richards seems to feel that the new technologies are fine but he wants the rules to help create a more level playing field between the different categories of car. He notes that, despite the Audi RS Q e-tron being heavier than the rest of the cars in this most recent Dakar Rally, it was still the fastest.
“But clearly the performance of the Audi is at a different level. They are 200kg overweight and they are still a lot faster than our car. So if they had been reliable they would have won by an hour, easily.”
It seems as if Audi is doing to Dakar what it did to the World Rally Championship back in the ’80s, with the Ur Quattro. Its new technology has helped Audi become the fastest in the sport. If it can upgrade the RS Q e-tron’s reliability for the next Dakar Rally, and avoid any navigational issues, it could have a dominant car.