It is known to be the toughest desert rally in the world comprising daily stages often over more than 400 km long. The conditions consist of sharp scree, gravel roads, and towering chains of dunes in the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula. This is a gruelling race for anyone, but at 61 years of age, it would seem near impossible. Not for Carlos Sainz. Sainz and his co-driver, Lucas Cruz, secured their big win after having been in the lead without interruption since the sixth stage. That’s around 7 900 km with a lead of 1 hour and 20 minutes.
“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.”
For the first time, a low-emission prototype with an electric drive, high-voltage battery and energy converter won the Dakar with the Audi RS Q e-tron. Winning the world’s toughest desert rally with an electrified drive is a visible ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ and points the way to our electric future.” The Audi RS Q e-tron has electric all-wheel drive. The energy supply is ensured by a high-voltage battery and an energy converter that runs on residual fuel-based reFuel, thus saving 60 per cent of CO2 emissions compared to conventional fuels.
Under the technical direction of Dr Leonardo Pascali, Audi Sport set this historic milestone with the innovative drive: after the Quattro all-wheel drive changed rallying forever in the 1980s and subsequently clinched victories and titles galore on the circuit, Audi demonstrated great innovative strength at Le Mans. Audi’s first all-electric racing car then made its debut in Formula E, before the brand took on the extreme challenges of the Dakar Rally and successfully completed it as the first manufacturer with an electric drive.
Head of Audi South Africa, Sascha Sauer, said, “I’m absolutely thrilled to congratulate Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz on their remarkable victory at the Dakar Rally 2024 in the Audi RS Q e-tron. Our cutting-edge rally prototype, meticulously optimised for the toughest challenges, has proven its mettle with an electric drivetrain, high-voltage battery, and energy converter. Conquering a staggering 7 900 km across the stunning but testing landscapes of Saudi Arabia, the RS Q e-tron showcases that low-emission technology excels even in the most demanding of motorsport events. The Dakar Rally, the ultimate test of endurance and skill, has once again been a platform for our drivers and the RS Q e-tron to shine.”
Tarryn Knight, Head of Product, Marketing and PR, has been close to the communication campaigns for South Africa and says, “For me, this feels special because two of Carlos Sainz’s four victories at the Dakar have been with the Volkswagen Group… This victory in the RS Q e-tron comes whilst I’m responsible for the Marketing and PR at Audi South Africa and I’ve watched the unbelievably hard work that has gone into securing this result since the moment it was announced that Audi would take its electric ambitions to rallying.”