Historic stage win

The Audi RS Q e-tron takes its first-ever stage win at the Dakar Rally.

Audi Sport and the RS Q e-tron with Carlos Sainz at the wheel write a new entry in the history books, with the hybrid’s first Dakar stage win.

5 January, 2022

The three RS Q e-trons occupied the top five positions for the stage in what was a tremendous outing for the brand

Just over a year ago the Audi Sport Dakar campaign was little more than a blank sheet of paper. Now, on Day 4 of the 2022 Dakar Rally, the official Audi Sport team has celebrated a motorsport milestone with its first Special Stage win in the event.

With Carlos Sainz at the wheel and co-driver, Lucas Cruz riding shotgun, the #202 RS Q e-tron stormed to a commanding win in the 255km stage in a time of 2 hours, 26 minutes and 51 seconds.  

For Sainz, a three time Dakar winner, it was his 40th stage win in the event, but for Audi Sport it represented the culmination of countless hours of hard work, research and development of the past 15 months to put a vehicle with electrified drive on the top step of the podium for the very first time.

In addition to the historic stage win, both of the other RS Q e-trons were likewise right on the pace, with Mr Dakar, Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger bringing their RS Q e-tron home in third, just 1 minute 41 seconds behind Sainz, and Swedish duo, Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist rounding out the top five positions for a tremendous Audi result.

“It means a lot for me,” said an obviously emotional Sainz after returning to a standing ovation at the bivouac.

“I’m very proud and very happy because I know how much work has gone into this campaign from every point of view. From mechanics and support staff to engineers and senior management at Audi,” he said.

The RS Q e-tron is hailed a hero after its first stage victory.
Q Motorsport CEO, Sven Quandt and Carlos Sainz celebrate the historic win.

The win came just days after an opening salvo that saw all three of the Audi RS Q e-trons encounter problems of differing degrees. Most significant was the RS Q e-tron driven by Stéphane Peterhansel which was severely damaged and unable to finish the stage. Less serious but no less frustrating, both of the vehicles driven by Sainz and Ekström suffered significant time setbacks through navigation issues, pushing them well down the time sheets. But those problems were left far behind after the outstanding Day 4 result.

It’s been a long time since an Audi has occupied the top spot at the Dakar Rally. The last time in fact was in 1985 when privateer team Malardeau saw French driver, Bernard Darniche take a stage win in his Audi Quattro. But this result represents a different time and indeed a totally different approach entirely – the win not just a first for the factory Audi Sport team at Dakar, but the first ever win in the newly created  T1-Ultimate class reserved for high-efficiency, alternatively powered vehicles.  

The strong result went a long way to reversing the dramas of Sunday and now sees the Ekström/Bergkvist pairing leading the overall standings for Audi Sport in 19th position, with Sainz and Cruz just back in 26th and Peterhansel/Boulanger well back in 71st as a result of Sunday’s damage.

There’s still a very long way to go in the race, with the longest stage so far – more than 700 kilometres –  awaiting competitors tomorrow. But when then vehicles line up for Stage 4, for the first time it will be Carlos Sainz and the RS Q e-tron leading the way after the historic Stage 3 win. 

RS Q e-tron records the first win in the T1-Ultimate class reserved for high-efficiency, alternatively powered vehicles

El Matador, Carlos Sainz, shows his class behind the wheel.
Sainz, Cruz and the RS Q e-tron in full flight.
In 1985 privateer team Malardeau recorded a stage win at Dakar with an Audi Quattro.