Audi Sport prepared the first rally of the new Audi RS Q e-tron E2 during an extensive test in Morocco in September 2022. With Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist, Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz, the six pilots and co-pilots were able to discover and appreciate the second evolution stage in difficult conditions.
“Our plan was to have nine days of testing so that each driver/co-driver pair could work with the test vehicle for three days. There were two main objectives: to develop the second evolution for the Dakar Rally and to familiarize the driver teams with the new developments. The weight reduction creates new opportunities for the suspension setup, which we want to exploit. We are moving in the right direction. The electric drive with all its systems also runs smoother than in the test a year ago. »explains Arnau Niubó Bosch, Track Operations project manager.
In Morocco, Uwe Breuling, Head of Vehicle Operations Audi Sport, encountered unusually difficult conditions with his team. “At almost 40 degrees Celsius, the temperatures are extreme and push the car, but also the crews, to their limits. Likewise, the test tracks are very fragile this year, which obviously puts a huge strain on the technology. But there’s nothing that can stop the car, just minor damage that we need to fix. »he reports.
All Audi Sport drivers and co-drivers are positively surprised by the reduced weight of the electrically powered prototype. “Not only the weight, but also its distribution is more favorable now. As a result, the car drifts less, it is more agile and easier to control. », said reports Carlos Sainz. An impression confirmed by Stéphane Peterhansel: “When driving in long and fast turns, there are less centrifugal forces. So it’s much easier to stay inside the corner. Also, our sitting position is better than before. » Mattias Ekström, still a novice in off-road rallying after a fine career on circuit and in rallycross, brings his knowledge while benefiting from the cutting edge of knowledge of the two Dakar winners within the team. “Carlos and Stéphane’s experience helps us enormously for the configuration. It’s not about lap times like on asphalt circuits, but about having a predictable car. In addition to the lower weight, the improved aerodynamics are also clearly noticeable. This has a positive effect, especially at higher speeds. »said Mattias Ekström.
Audi Sport engineers not only had the conditions for the drivers in mind during their work. The three co-pilots also benefit from an optimized working environment. “We wanted to be able to operate complex systems more easily. This has been well achieved with the latest evolution. In some cases, systems now respond to warnings without manual intervention. »explains Emil Bergkvist.
Lucas Cruz added: “The ergonomics in the cockpit are now better and various controls have been logically grouped together, which definitely helps us. This allows us to concentrate better and leaves us more time for our core business: navigation. » For Edouard Boulanger, another aspect was essential: “The car is very different from before. The lower weight means we can move a bit more towards comfort in terms of shock setup. That’s important when you spend as much time in the cockpit as we do and need to stay focused for hours on end. »
Audi Sport covered a total of 4,218 kilometers in Morocco. With previous tests in Europe, this already translates to a total distance of 6,424 kilometers for the Audi RS Q e-tron E2. However, the team has no time to stop: in less than two weeks, the second evolution of the rally prototype will experience its baptism of fire. Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist, Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz will contest the Rallye du Maroc in the south-west of the country from October 1 to 6, 2022. With its varied terrain, it is considered the ideal event for prepare for the Dakar Rally.