Audi tests its Dakar rally plug-in hybrid car in the Moroccan heatwave
Audi prepared its staff, drivers and cars for the 2022 edition of the Dakar rally by carrying out a series of tests in the Moroccan desert. Powered by a gasoline-electric powertrain, the RS Q E-Tron sprinted, braked hard, drifted and spent a lot of time in the air.
Dakar legends StÃ©phane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz and longtime touring car driver Mattias EkstrÃ¶m took turns testing an RS Q E-Tron prototype in Morocco. Sandstorms and temperatures over 100 degrees tortured the powertrain; it is the desert, after all. Not everything went well, which is inevitable, but the team would rather discover problems in practice than in the race.
“New issues arose with the high temperatures, which repeatedly caused test interruptions and had to be resolved before the next test,” said Sven Quandt, Q Motorsport’s team manager. In total, the team spent two weeks in the southern Mediterranean.
Much of the testing appears to have revolved around the powertrain, which consists of a TFSI engine sourced from Audi’s now-closed DTM touring car team and configured to load a 50-kilowatt-hour motor. drums pack on the go. It operates between 4,500 and 6,000 rpm. Electricity reaches all four wheels via a pair of electric motors borrowed from Audi’s Formula E cars, while a third motor helps charge the battery. It is a relatively complex system; some parts are standard components, but the battery was developed specifically for the RS Q E-Tron.
Another area that has been refined during testing is ergonomics. Race cars are designed for performance, not comfort, but quirks like an odd seating position, poor visibility, and a cramped cabin can waste precious seconds for the drivers and co-driver. Audi has therefore made minor but important modifications to the cockpit to free up more space for the crew and allow better communication.
“The knowledge we have acquired in Morocco is invaluable, but it also shows us that we still have a lot to do before the Dakar Rally, and that we are running out of time,” concluded Andreas Roos, the head of the Dakar Rally. ‘factory. sports car projects at Audi Sport. He’s right: the race starts in January 2022.
Audi Sport will continue to test the RS Q E-Tron in various conditions and locations over the coming months. In the meantime, workers at its factory in Germany have started building one of the two cars that will participate in the race. It carries the chassis number 104. Enthusiasts will be able to see the duo in action during the Dakar Rally 2022, which begins in January. 2 in Ha’il, Saudi Arabia, and ends in Jeddah 12 days later. In the dunes, the RS Q E-Tron will have to beat off the competition from a diverse list of competitors, including the BRX hunter.
Interestingly, some of the lessons learned from testing the Dakar in Morocco and elsewhere will carry over to production cars for years to come. In particular, Audi acquires valuable knowledge about managing the temperature of a high-voltage battery pack under extreme conditions.
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