And then there was one
Dakar takes its toll on yet an other Audi, leaving Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist the last RS Q e-tron in the race.
Only one RS Q e-tron remains in the fight at Dakar after Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz were forced to retire after a rollover caused significant damage to their vehicle.
12 January, 2023
The pair escaped injury, but the damage was extensive and meant the regrettable retirement from the race
With the second half of the Dakar underway, the Audi Sport team had mixed fortunes with a strong result for Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist but a race ending result for Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz.
Ekström was able to put the difficulty of the last several stages behind him and was only denied a podium on Stage 9 by a flat tyre midway through the stage. Even with the resultant delays, he and co-driver Emil Bergkvist were still able to finish in fourth position for the day and just over five minutes behind the ultimate stage winner.
“At the end to finish in P4 is nice after the last two days that have been so rough,” said a relieved Ekström.
Unfortunately the stage was not as kind for Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz despite realistically setting their sights on a stage win at the start. The pair started in P3 after the inspired drive before the rest day, but just a few kilometres into the stage they suffered a rollover, and although neither one was injured, the resultant damage to the RS Q e-tron was such that it spelt the end of their race.
“Typical accident in the dunes,” said a philosophical Carlos Sainz back at the bivouac. “It was a really big hole. If I’d been two metres to the left or three kilometres slower it’d be alright to get through, but unfortunately it seems that this year, nothing’s worked for us.”
Indeed the rollover spelt the end for the Spanish pairing, the Audi Sport engineers determining that the damage was too serious for repairs on site because safety-relevant assemblies were also affected.
“As sorry as we are, even a team as tireless as ours cannot repair damage of this dimension on site in time,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Rolf Michl.
“As a result, the hopes for a finish rest on the shoulders of Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist in the remaining Audi RS Q e-tron.”
Their task is a daunting one with only five days of competition remaining, but this latest drive saw them climb from 39th to 27th in the overall standings, and they will continue to push to achieve the very best result possible in the time remaining.
Catch the action from Day 11 (Stage 9) here.
'If I’d been two metres to the left or three kilometres slower it’d be alright to get through'
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