From start to finish
Audi Sport and the RS Q e-tron claim the 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Team Audi Sport has claimed its first international rally event with the RS Q e-tron – on just its second outing.
11 March, 2022
"For the first time, a car with an electric powertrain has won a desert rally.”
Just two months after its impressive international motorsport debut in the Dakar Rally, the Audi RS Q e-tron has claimed its first major title, winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. In the experienced hands of Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Edouard Boulanger, the RS Q e-tron led the event from the start, claiming the opening stage win and never relinquishing its hold on the lead for the remainder of the race.
Chasing his eighth win in the event, Stéphane Peterhansel showed his tremendous experience and touch behind the wheel, taking an eight minute lead in the opening stage which grew with each subsequent day, ultimately giving the Audi Sport team a victory some 29.49 minutes ahead of the nearest competitors.
“Congratulations to Stéphane and Edouard, to Team Audi Sport as well as our fielding partner Q Motorsport,” said an ecstatic Julius Seebach, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH and responsible for motorsport at Audi.
“They have achieved a breakthrough for our innovations with this success … now, for the first time, a car with an electric powertrain has won a desert rally.”
“A victory on the second start against the two best contenders of January’s Dakar Rally – winner Nasser Al-Attiyah and record World Champion and Monte Carlo winner Sébastien Loeb – is an outstanding result.”
The win also saw the RS Q e-tron perform to its peak in tougher conditions than in January’s Dakar Rally, with temperatures regularly over 40 degrees and the hotter sand, significantly softer as a result, creating greater rolling resistance on the steep dune climbs. This combination pushed the cooling circuits to their limits, but the RS Q e-tron never faltered and with the exception of a slow puncture on the second day, remained problem free throughout the five day event. Indeed the alternative drive concept with its combination of electric powertrain with a high-voltage battery as well as the efficient energy converter never missed a beat and took the tougher conditions in stride.
“Once again we have learned a lot in this young project,” said Sven Quandt, Managing Director and Team Principal of Q Motorsport. “On the one hand, it was a test for us, but on the other hand it was also about sporting goals. The first victory is of course something very special. All the nicer that the Audi RS Q e-tron ran so flawlessly and that the electric drive concept proved itself even in the toughest conditions.”
The win also saw the RS Q e-tron perform to its peak in tougher conditions than in January’s Dakar Rally
“It’s incredible that eight months ago we were just starting to test the vehicle and on some days were only completing 20 kilometres
“It’s really a big pleasure to be a part of this victory,” said a very proud but relieved Stéphane Peterhansel at the end of the race. The fact of having to lead off each day having created its own unique set of stresses for the champion French driver who said that ‘when you lead an event you can either win or make a mistake a lose’. To that end it was a matter of setting a manageable pace and not making a mistake which would see the 33 minute lead going into the final day’s racing get eaten away.
But the man who has seven previous wins in the event as well as his record 14 Dakar victories, showed why he is arguably the finest desert racer in the world and, with Edouard Boulanger, brought the Audi home to claim its first desert rally.
“It’s incredible that eight months ago we were just starting to test the vehicle and on some days were only completing 20 kilometres and working out little problems,” Peterhansel said.
“I am really happy and it’s really an honour to be a part of this project,” he said.
The development work that such a victory provides for the Audi Sport team is invaluable in its ongoing work to further refine the RS Q e-tron and its electric drive concept. The winning Audi will now get a break of sorts before lining up against the competition again for the Andalucia Rally in the south of Spain in June.
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