Audi’s RS Q E-Tron Dakar rally vehicles take a number of stage wins in Saudi Arabia

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Audi ran three ridiculously sophisticated and funky hybrid electrical automobiles on the Dakar Rally this yr, and after 13 days of racing, the German automaker has so much to crow about.

When it comes to stage wins, Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz within the No. 202 automobile got here out on prime, with two first- and second-place finishes, in addition to three third-place finishes. Stéphane “Mr. Dakar” Peterhansel and co-driver Edouard Boulanger within the No. 200 automobile earned themselves one first- and one third-place stage end and two second locations. Rounding out the Audi workforce are Mattias Ekström and co-driver Emil Bergkvist within the No. 224 automobile with one first, second and third end.

Nevertheless, when the mud settled, Ekström and Bergkvist proved to be probably the most constant, incomes a ninth-place end total with a time of 41 hours, quarter-hour, 14 seconds, about 2 hours, 42 minutes behind total winners Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel. Sainz and Cruz got here in twelfth place total with a time of 42 hours, 12 minutes, 24 seconds. Peterhansel and Boulanger got here in a disappointing 57th place with a time of 106 hours, 45 minutes, 16 seconds. The duo had a devastating begin to the rally after they took out the rear finish of their RS Q E-Tron racer.

Audi is hoping to revolutionize rallying with the RS Q E-Tron simply because it did in 1981 when it launched its Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Nevertheless, the corporate is aware of present battery expertise simply cannot compete in a long-stage, multiday rally just like the Dakar. The vary simply is not there. So the automobile’s 52-kilowatt-hour battery is charged on the go by a gas-powered 2.0-liter I4 turbocharged engine. Coupled to that engine is a motor-generator unit that feeds the battery. Two different motor-generator models drive the entrance and rear wheels. On this means, the battery can present sufficient energy for the levels with out stopping for a recharge — a few of them are so long as 500 miles.

Gotta love that scoop.


The vehicles left every morning with a full cost, however holding the battery from depleting shortly may be difficult. A lot of the Dakar rally is spent navigating the dunes, which does a quantity on vary. The sand gives resistance as do low tire pressures. Per the Dakar guidelines, the Audi’s motor-generator models on the axles have to be restricted to a complete of 288 kilowatts of energy, or 386 horsepower, and the power converter can solely provide 220 kW of energy. Whereas Audi didn’t anticipate to all the time be utilizing extra energy than the automobile is producing, there have been moments the place groups noticed vary drop precipitously. Nevertheless, a sophisticated set of algorithms and engineering magic stored the battery inside a specified state of cost. 

Audi hasn’t launched any torque numbers for its hybrid race automobile, however the RS Q E-Tron can reportedly speed up from 0 to 60 mph on a unfastened floor in lower than 4.5 seconds and its prime pace is restricted to 106 mph. The battery provides an additional 816 kilos to the chassis. The automobile additionally has six cooling methods for the 2 electrical motors, battery, power converter, gas-powered engine and cabin. There are additionally about 2.5 miles of cables within the automobile, and that does not embrace the 800-volt cables for the battery. I don’t envy the Audi techs with this one.

The RS Q E-Tron is a reasonably slick piece of expertise, though it nonetheless burns dinosaurs to make the electrical energy. Certain, all of us need clear energy, but it surely’s a gradual course of to get there.

I’ve campaigned two electrical automobiles in sanctioned motorsports occasions. The Rivian R1T required a cost in the midst of day in the course of the Rebelle Rally, however I used to be not rallying for pace, however quite navigational accuracy. Within the Mexican 1000, Volkswagen charged the ID 4 in a trailer in the course of the on-road transit levels. In each circumstances the ability was supplied by a diesel generator, though the charging unit for the Rebelle Rally was in a position to run on hydrogen energy and it was solely a logistical drawback that stored it from doing so.

My level right here is that Audi is working with the expertise that’s at present accessible. It is not excellent, but it surely’s only one step on the highway to long-range batteries.

Within the Dakar Rally, groups are up in opposition to many new challenges, not simply driving an experimental automobile. Roadbooks got out quarter-hour earlier than the beginning of the day’s stage. In earlier years co-drivers acquired their books the evening earlier than, permitting for overview and notes.

Additional, the roadbooks this yr had been digital. Co-drivers had two screens in entrance of them. The left confirmed very crude drawings of the terrain and the way in which by. For instance, there could also be rocks on one aspect of the notice represented by irregular circles and a constructing on the opposite, represented by a rectangle. In actuality the rocks could possibly be any dimension and the constructing could possibly be a shack. If this display screen failed, co-drivers had a sealed paper roadbook as a backup. On the right-hand display screen navigators might see their directional heading and a validation when the digital waypoint was reached. 

That is Audi’s first time competing within the Dakar rally, though it is no stranger to electrified racing. The corporate gained the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2012 with an electrified drivetrain within the R18 E-Tron Quattro and profitable seasons in Method E in 2017 and 2018. Actually, the motor-generator models on the Dakar automobile are lifted from the present Audi E-Tron FE07 Method E automobile — with some slight modifications.


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