Audi makes history: for the first time, a low-emission prototype with an electric drive, high-voltage battery and energy converter wins the world’s toughest desert rally with the Audi RS Q e-tron. The Spaniards Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz secured Audi’s first victory in the Dakar Rally after around 7,900 kilometers with a lead of 1h 20min. Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist also crossed the finish line.
Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz secured their big lead after having been in the lead without interruption since the sixth stage. For the two Spaniards, who finished first in 2010, 2018 and 2020, this is their fourth success with a different brand, including the second from the Volkswagen Group. However, two-time World Rally Champion Sainz and his experienced co-driver could not be sure until shortly before the end. With Sébastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin from Team BRX, they had strong pursuers who continued to close the gap until their car suffered damage on the penultimate day. “That was an overwhelming team performance,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Rolf Michl. “Everyone pulled together to make this historic result possible for Audi. A big thank you to this wonderful team. Today we have written a new chapter for Audi, but also in the history of the Dakar Rally.”
Daily stages of often more than 400 kilometers, two marathon stages with limited or even no service, as well as 4,600 timed kilometers and 7,883 kilometers in total characterized the 2024 Dakar Rally. Sharp scree and gravel roads, but also towering chains of dunes in the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula and often difficult navigation demanded everything from the teams. Carlos Sainz, who at 61 looks back on a rally career spanning around four decades, recorded a total of eight days in the lead with Lucas Cruz on the twelve stages.
The two other Audi crews had also put in a strong performance early on. The Swedes Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist won the prologue at the beginning and improved to second place behind Sainz/Cruz by the rest day after six stages. However, a defect on the rear axle on the seventh stage cost them all their chances. Stéphane Peterhansel, record holder with 14 Dakar victories, was in sixth place shortly before the halfway point after his 50th stage win in the car and his 83rd overall. A defect in the hydraulic system threw him and his French compatriot Edouard Boulanger back to 22nd place on the sixth stage.
Both teams then put themselves at the service of Team Audi Sport. Head of Audi Motorsport Rolf Michl and Sven Quandt, Team Principal of the entry partner Q Motorsport, implemented a perfect strategy in a demanding 46th edition of the rally. Whether it was tactically dropping back before the second marathon stage to avoid having to open the route or supporting the leaders Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz, the management was able to rely on its strong driver crews at all times. The team personnel also worked tirelessly and reliably during the physically demanding, long and tough rally. Ekström/Bergkvist finished the event in the top 50.
Audi Sport hasletthehighlyefficient Audi RS Q e-tronmature so thatitiscapableofwinningwithin just threeyears. Under thetechnicaldirectionofDr. Leonardo Pascali, Audi Sport setthenexthistoricmilestonewiththe innovative drive: after thequattro all-wheeldrivechangedrallyingforever in the 1980s and subsequentlyclinchedvictories and titlesgalore on thecircuit, Audi demonstratedgreat innovative strength at Le Mans. The efficient TFSI drive, theelectrifiede-tronquattro all-wheeldrive and individual technologies such asthe LED matrix light and the Audi laser light stand for a high levelof innovative strength and “Vorsprungdurch Technik”. Audi’sfirst all-electricracingcarthenmadeitsdebut in Formula E, beforethebrandtook on the extreme challengesofthe Dakar Rally and successfullycompleteditasthefirstmanufacturerwith an electricdrive.