In January 2022, when Audi sets out to write a completely new chapter in the brand’s illustrious motorsport history, one of the most celebrated names in international rally – Carlos Sainz – will be at the wheel of one of Audi Sport’s all-electric race vehicles.

18 June, 2021

In 1980, at the age of 18, Carlos Sainz started driving rally cars and the world witnessed the birth of a driving legend. With two World Rally Championships and three Dakar victories under his belt, he has demonstrated over his 40 years of professional driving (and counting) that he is a rare talent, with the singleminded determination required to face any challenge.

Even now at the age of 59, he eyes the next challenge with relish.

“Challenges drive you. They make your brain work. To think about what you need to do to achieve your dreams,” says the Spaniard.

Throughout his stellar career, Sainz has worked and won for many car manufacturers. “But, being part of Audi today really means a lot to me,” he says. His road to the collaboration with the brand with the four rings, which started this year, was a long one. “I was a young rally driver and a total fan when Audi entered with its quattro in the early 1980s and became World Rally champions very quickly with this new technology of permanent all-wheel drive.”

He sees Audi’s new Dakar project as a similar pioneering act: 

“Back then, they were the first with quattro, now they’re the first with an electric powertrain.”

“I have full confidence in the Audi engineers and try to help them with my experience to develop a fast and successful car.”

Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz have successfully partnered in the Dakar Rally, most recently in 2020.

Carlos Sainz considers his latest driving stint in the Extreme E off-road racing series, introduced in 2021, to be little comparable with the Dakar stages: “In Extreme E, you drive for about 80 kilometres during a weekend, at the Dakar Rally it is almost 800 kilometres a day for two weeks.”

“You should never underestimate the Dakar Rally,” says Carlos Sainz. “It is very, very tough.” For man and machine: 

“You have to be prepared to the maximum in every respect. And you definitely have to stay patient. Because the smallest of mistakes, whether in driving or mechanically, will results in lost time, usually a lot of time. In any case, it’s very, very difficult to make up for lost time in the Dakar Rally.” 

Even when not racing, standing still is not an option for Carlos Sainz. 

“Even right after a Dakar Rally, I already need to get moving again after a few days of rest.” Then he is off again on the bike at home in Madrid. And always flat out. “Despite my matured age, I still race and do everything else I enjoy with passion.”  

“I’m still hungry,” says Sainz. “If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t accept this challenge that is very important to me – to try to win the Dakar Rally with Audi. It’s a new, fantastic and very challenging project.”

“It makes me very proud to help Audi win the Dakar for the first time,” says Sainz. “And if I even manage to do that as a driver, then that will be my ultimate goal.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr, a Formula 1 driver, watches Carlos Snr practice his golf swing.