The 2022 Dakar Rally enters its final week, with another stage win and all three Audi RS Q e-trons in the top four on Day 10.
11 January, 2022
With the halfway point and the rest day in Riyadh fast becoming a memory, team Audi Sport is attacking the second and final week of the 2022 Dakar with renewed vigour. On Stage 7 straight back from the rest break, all three RS Q e-trons finished in the top 10 places, with Carlos Sainz netting yet another podium finish in third.
The following day across Stage 8 the team put in an even stronger performance, becoming the first team ever to record a one-two result, with Mattias Ekström and co-driver Emil Bergkvist winning their first Dakar stage and Mr Dakar, Stéphane Peterhansel finishing less than a minute behind. Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz rounded out the top Audi performance for the stage, coming home just three seconds shy of the third position, but having to contend with two slow punctures during the stage.
For Ekström, the first place result took some time to sink in. No stranger to standing on the top step of the podium in DTM and Rallycross, the Swede is still a relative newcomer to Dakar, he and Emil Bergkvist having only competed in the event once before in a side-by-side buggy last year.
Although he was aware that his pace throughout Stage 8 was good, he said once back at the bivouac that he’d been disappointed with his driving in the dunes and was convinced that other competitors finishing after him would be logging faster times than his. That was not the case and Ekström added a stage win to career tally to date.
Peterhansel and co-driver Edouard Boulanger brought the RS Q e-tron home in second position even after suffering significant damage to the bonnet in the dunes and also having navigation issues towards the end of the stage. Despite these set backs, the French duo were nevertheless just 49 seconds behind the winning Audi, and just three seconds stood between Carlos Sainz and making it a clean sweep of the podium for Audi.
The result sees Ekström sit currently in 11th over, just outside the top 10, while Sainz sits a little further back in 18th overall. For Peterhansel, the result was a welcome lift to his standings which were so badly rocked in the opening salvo with the major damage to the rear wheel and suspension. Nevertheless, the Frenchman is pushing to see just how much of that deficit he can make up with the RS Q e-tron which is exceeding all expectation in its first-ever Dakar. With four more competitive stages still to go, the story for 2022 is far from finished.
Watch the stage 8 highlights here.
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