Ahead of next year’s Dakar Rally, Audi has been putting its fully electric RS Q e-tron through its paces with an eight-day endurance testing programme.
Audi Sport’s new prototype for the Dakar Rally has been tested on cross-country trails and specific gravel sections in Zaragoza, Spain. This testing follows an initial functional check for the car in June and another test on unpaved ground in Magdeburg in July.
The most recent testing programme was designed to be the most realistic to the conditions in Dakar, with the rally-car being pushed to 112mph in temperatures of 34 degrees centigrade in the shade.
All three of Audi Sport’s driver teams took part in the test in Aragon. Dakar record winner Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-driver Edouard Boulanger drove the first stint from Friday to Sunday. Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist took over the Audi RS Q e-tron on Monday for the next two test days. Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz concluded the intensive trials from Wednesday to Friday.
The three driver teams were obviously impressed with the handling and reliability of the futuristic SUV on the fast gravel sections. “For a first test in proper conditions for the car I’m really happy how the car behaves already,” said Carlos Sainz on behalf of his fellow drivers. “I had a really good feeling straight away. Of course, there is fine-tuning to be done – but the starting point is good.”
“This test was focused on getting in as much driving as possible and detecting weak spots,” development engineer Arnau Niubó Bosch said after more than 1,000 test miles in extremely harsh conditions. “The next test in September will take us into the dunes for the first time.”
The Audi RS Q e-tron uses an all-electric powertrain with two motor-generator units (MGU) from Formula E. The high-voltage battery that has been newly developed by Audi Sport is recharged while driving via an energy converter consisting of the efficient TFSI engine from the DTM and another MGU.