The sand of the Moroccan desert confirmed what was intuited when Audi launched its RS Q e-tron E2 with which they will go out to fight the next edition of the Dakar. A lighter, more aerodynamic and more efficient vehicle should respond with better results and Carlos Sainz reaffirmed it after nine days of testing in Morocco where he shared the stage with the rest of the pilots of the brand with the four rings. “It’s more agile and easier to control.” slipped the man from Madrid, after overcoming a simulation in extreme conditions where he was accompanied Lucas Cruz, Stéphane Peterhansel with Edouard Boulanger and Mattias Ekström with Emil Bergkvist.
The nine days of testing were lived in the purest Dakar style, since in total they completed 4,218 kilometers (with an average of 468 per day that would be equivalent to the route of the longest stages) as marked by the roadmap established by the German team with “nine days of tests so that each pair of pilot and co-pilot could work with the test vehicle during three”, explained Arnau Niubo, project manager, to highlight how the work was distributed in a scenario where there were two main objectives: “Developing the second evolution for the Dakar and to familiarize the driver teams with new developments.”
Although the first litmus test will be at the Morocco Rally (from October 1 to 6), the good news is that optimism has invaded the Audi lineup, especially due to a weight reduction that does it all easier. Though sainz clarifies that “it is not only the weight, but also a distribution that is now more favorable”. What’s the score? a car that “It drifts less, feels snappier and is easier to control.” The entire line-up shares feelings, as Peterhansel simply underlined the words of the man from Madrid: “In long and fast corners there are fewer centrifugal forces. It is much easier to stay on the inside of the curve.”
The technical explanation of this car behavior is provided by Arnau Niubó: “Weight loss creates new opportunities for suspension setup (where they suffered more problems in the first part of the 2022 edition) that we want to take advantage of. We are moving in a good direction.” But in addition to the work of all the engineers behind this new creation, “Carlos and Stéphane’s experience helps us enormously to the configuration”, reveals an Ekstrom who is still seen as the rookie from a class that seems to have learned its lesson well.
All the positive aspects of the RS Q e-tron E2 have been enhanced. Even after having endured days where temperatures approached 40º, the car was up to the needs of the challenge of the Dakar. “The ergonomics in the cabin is now better and several controls have been logically regrouped, which definitely helps us. This allows us to concentrate better and it gives us more time for our main task: navigation”, He says luke cross on the vision of the co-pilot inside a prototype that in total has already accumulated 6,424 kilometers. More to come…