International press sample off-road excellence on two and four wheels in Sardinia.
The proven off-road racer, the Audi RS Q e-tron and new comer from sister brand Ducati, the DesertX showed what they could do at a test session for press on Sardinia.
6 May, 2022
To sample these two very different vehicles in their ‘natural habitat’ under the tutelage of some of the true greats of international motorsport
A motorsport enthusiast’s dream come true. Dakar hero, the Audi RS Q e-tron, and Ducati’s first foray into off-road models, the DesertX, at a test track on Sardinia ready to be put through their paces. But wait, as they say, there’s more.
On hand to provide expert tuition and special insights were, Carlos Sainz and Dakar co-driver, Lucas Cruz and Mr Dakar himself, Stéphane Peterhansel with co-driver Edouard Boulanger. Also joining the four-wheel team was Emil Bergkvist although without his Dakar teammate Mattias Ekström and for the two-wheel brigade, Ducati rider and former MotoGP winner, Danilo Petrucci, was on hand.
The event was a unique opportunity for members of the international press to sample these two very different vehicles in their ‘natural habitat’ and with some of the true greats of international motorsport and in particular, off-road racing.
The Audi RS Q e-tron made its debut this year at the Dakar Rally, impressing from the outset as it won four stages in the event and continued the brand’s strong tradition of pushing the envelope in international motorsport with new technologies.
It backed up that outstanding debut performance by leading the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge from start to finish in March to record its first outright off-road win and has since been undergoing further development work when not doing duty at events like this.
Wearing a matching livery to the Audi RS Q e-tron for this very special event, the Ducati DesertX, represents a new direction for the renowned Italian motorcycle manufacturer from Audi’s sister brand.
With its powerful Testastretta engine, generous ground clearance and long suspension travel, the DesertX is the first all-terrain model from Ducati, which has built an enviable reputation for producing touring and racing road bikes. In the saddle at the event, Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci showed what the bike can do, riding on the dirt a far cry from racing for Ducati in the MotoAmerica Superbike Series. Petrucci also made his Dakar debut in 2022, making history in the process as the first MotoGP rider to win a Dakar stage.
And while the whole event was designed for members of the media to get a taste for these two exceptional machines, Petrucci took the opportunity to take a ride in there Audi RS Q e-tron with long-time idol, Carlos Sainz – a great thrill for the experienced Italian motorcycle racer.
The DesertX is the first all-terrain model from Ducati, which has built an enviable reputation for producing touring and racing road bikes
The RS Q e-tron is an integral part of the brand’s future motorsport strategy, helping to refine technologies for racing and for series production vehicles
“It’s a dream come true for me, because already as a child I was a fan of Carlos Sainz,” Petrucci said of the experience.
“You can’t describe the feeling in the cockpit. I didn’t expect the RS Q e-tron to be so fast off-road. Its technology shows the way to the future of the automobile.”
Speaking at the recent Sardinian event, Sainz underlined the importance of the model for the brand’s factory motorsport program.
“What Audi has achieved with this concept is technically unique and a real benefit for us drivers,” he said.
“The event in Sardinia was great to communicate the benefits of the electric drive. All the media were impressed throughout.”
The RS Q e-tron is an integral part of the brand’s future motorsport strategy, helping to refine technologies that will not only be used in racing but will find their way into series production vehicles in the future. Its success ‘straight out of the box’ at Dakar this year mirrored similar successes for the brand when it debuted technologies like quattro in the 1980s and changed the face of international rally, as well as the myriad firsts achieved by Audi in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Audi is already well advanced with its strategy of becoming wholly electric and as of 2026, and from 2025 will only be launching new models with electric drive systems onto the global market.
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