- Audi returning to rally for the first time since 1987
- Will take on Dakar with hybrid-powered machine
- Two former Dakar champions will be in the driving line-up
Audi has announced it is to return to the rallying stage, 35 years after its last factory-backed car competed.
The German automaker is to make its return to off-road racing in the 2022 Dakar rally with a world-first hybrid machine.
The Ingolstadt carmaker hopes the move will pave the way for the sport in the future, just as the firm did in the 1980s by being the first manufacturer to competitively use four-wheel-drive in motorsport.The German automaker pulled out of the sport at the
Audi left rallying from the back end of Group B due to a string of fatalities and had one last hurrah at Pikes Peak with Walter Röhrl winning in a Quattro S1.
The hybrid vehicle will be run by Q Motorsport, utilising the DTM-developed TFSI petrol engine as a generator to charge the on-board batteries which power the three electric motors from Audi's Formula E program, wrapped up at the end of 2020.
Two of the three electric motor-generator units (MGUs) will provide power - one on each axle - while the third will work in tandem with the petrol engine to recharge the battery.
Audi has said the yet-to-be-named challenger will run on electric power only between stages with the combustion engine being used throughout Special Stages to keep the battery's state of charge topped-up, according to Audi Sport's managing director, Julius Seebach.
"The important thing is: our drivetrain is fully electric. The TFSI engine is only used to charge the batteries on the special stages," said Mr Seebach.
"The battery has to be charged while driving, as there are currently no other options to do so in the desert.
"With the Dakar project, we at Audi remain true to our philosophy of using new technologies in motorsport for the first time that are groundbreaking for future road cars.
"In our rally history, for example, this was the Quattro drivetrain, and now we will test components for future electric drivetrains under extreme conditions at the Dakar Rally. At the same time, we offer exciting customer and fan experiences.
The car is planned to be unveiled in July 2021 with the driving roster already announced, featuring heavyweights such as two-time WRC champion and three-time Dakar winner, Carlos Sainz Sr, 14-time Dakar winner (eight in a car, six on a motorbike), Stéphane Peterhansel and two-time DTM champion, Mattias Ekström.
Dakar will take place from January 2-14, 2022 in Saudi Arabia, with Peterhansel looking to defend his title after winning the 2021 edition.
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