There is no such thing as too much testing going into the ultimate automotive challenge that is the Dakar Rally.
With the vehicle reveal out of the way, Audi Sport gets down to the very serious task of testing the RS Q e-tron in punishing real world conditions.
17 August, 2021
To simulate the harsh conditions that will be encountered next year, the team headed to an area near the Spanish city of Zaragoza
With the 2022 running of the Dakar Rally just over four months away, Audi Sport and its Dakar driver teams are hard at work putting the newly revealed Audi RS Q e-tron through its paces. Even before the high-tech rally vehicle was unveiled to the world, extensive systems checks had already been undertaken, with a special test area in Magdeburg, Germany, used to gather valuable off-road data, before the acid testing got underway in earnest.
To simulate the harsh conditions that will be encountered next year, the team headed to an area near the Spanish city of Zaragoza, where the Audi RS Q e-tron completed an eight-day endurance test in sweltering heat on gravel sections of the kind typically used in cross-country rallies.
All three of Audi Sport’s driver teams took part in the test. Dakar record winner Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-driver Edouard Boulanger drove the first three day stint before Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist took over the Audi RS Q e-tron for the next two days. Finally, the Matador himself, Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz wrapped up the intensive trials bringing the vehicle home after a further three days of hard driving.
For his part, the former World Rally Champion was impressed with the performance of the all-electric vehicle:
“For a first test in proper conditions for the car I’m really happy how the car behaves already,” Sainz said of the RS Q e-tron. “I had a really good feeling straight away. Of course, there is fine-tuning to be done – but the starting point is good.”
Both speed and endurance are critical factors for the Dakar race, and with the RS Q e-tron hitting speeds of up to 180km/h on long sections of gravel, the former is certainly not going to be an issue. Being able to perform under extreme conditions is likewise a crucial factor for vehicles in the Dakar and with 34 degree temperatures even in the shade in Spain during the testing period, the cooling system of the RS Q e-tron also showed it was up to the task.
“This test was focused on getting in as much driving as possible and detecting weak spots,” development engineer Arnau Niubó Bosch said after more than 1700 test kilometres in extremely harsh conditions.
“The next test in September will take us into the dunes for the first time.”
This will add another dimension to the vehicle’s testing, the rigours of driving on sand placing greater strain on drive components, which, when added to heat and prolonged high-speed driving increases the stresses exponentially.
The all-electric powertrain that drives the RS Q e-tron uses two motor-generator units (MGU) that were developed for Audi Sport’s recently completed Formula E campaign, and this technology has already proved its worth on the race circuits of the world during this season. The high-voltage battery that has been newly developed by Audi Sport is recharged while driving uses an energy converter made up of the efficient TFSI engine from the DTM and another MGU, and it is this combination that must performance for kilometre after kilometre at speed, to see the dream of a Dakar win become reality.
“The next test in September will take us into the dunes for the first time”
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