Audi has announced rally legends Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz, along with two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom as part of the driver line-up for its Dakar debut next year. The 2022 Dakar Rally will see Audi become the first-ever car manufacturer to compete in the famous event with an electric car.
Peterhansel has won the Dakar Rally a record 14 times
Sainz is a multiple-time WRC and Dakar winner
Ekstrom is a two-time DTM champion
Audi driver line-up for 2022 Dakar Rally
Both, Peterhansel and Sainz move over from the Mini X-Raid squad. Peterhansel has won the Dakar Rally a record 14 times – six times on a motorcycle and eight times with a car. His consistent performance saw him win this year’s Dakar Rally as he managed to complete 11 out of 12 stages in the top three. Joining him will be his co-driver Edouard Boulanger, who is a trained engineer with plenty of Dakar experience.
Carlos Sainz is a living legend in the rally community, having won the World Rally Championship twice (in 1990 and 1992) and the Dakar Rally thrice (in 2010, 2018 and 2020). Speaking about his new stint with Audi, he said, “Even at 59, I’m still hungry, otherwise I wouldn’t have taken on this new challenge”. Sainz’ long time co-driver Lucas Cruz will join him in the cockpit.
Ekstrom, meanwhile, has spent most of his professional racing career with Audi. While he’s most notably known for his two DTM titles in 2004 and 2007, he’s also proved to be a versatile driver over the years. He won the World Rallycross Championship in 2016 and also enjoyed successful stints in the World Rally Championship (WRC), NASCAR and in Australian Supercars. This year, he’s competing in the new Extreme E electric off-road racing series, driving for CUPRA. Emil Bergkvist, who used to be a rally driver himself, will serve as Ekstrom’s co-driver.
Together, the drivers will now work on testing and further developing Audi’s electric prototype. “In the end, the drivers and co-drivers make the difference at the Dakar Rally,” says Andreas Roos, who is responsible for the factory motorsport commitments at Audi Sport. “The fact that we will have three driver teams at the very highest level is reassuring. We can put a check mark behind this point. Now it’s up to us to complete the development of our innovative car and kick off the energy revolution in cross-country rallying in January.”
Audi’s electric Dakar racer
The 2022 Dakar Rally will see the introduction of an all-new T1-E category for low-carbon emission prototypes. And this is the category in which Audi will make its Dakar debut. The manufacturer has been working with Q Motorsport to develop an electric off-road prototype for this new category.
The racer will take its power from an electric motor mated to a high-voltage battery, with a turbocharged petrol engine serving as a "highly efficient energy converter". In essence, the combustion engine will act as a range-extender device, topping up the battery pack as required while the race is in progress.
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