Audi reveals updated electric Dakar challenger for 2023

Audi has significantly overhauled its Dakar Rally prototype for 2023, with the upgrades aimed at improving efficiency of the powertrain and making the car easier to operate for the crew.

Audi RS Q e-tron E2

Christened the Audi RS Q e-tron E2, the name now incorporates the E2 abbreviation that previously featured on the legendary Audi Quattro in its Group B derivation in the 1980s.

The entire body of the vehicle has been redesigned since it made its debut in this year’s Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, with chief designer Axel Loffler stating “not a single body part from its predecessor” has been carried over to the new model.

Several weight-saving measures have been adopted as the original Audi RS Q e-tron was overweight due its incredibly complex hybrid powertrain system, with the German manufacturer admitting that it had to shed several kilos off the car even as the minimum weight has been raised from 2,000kg to 2,100kg.

Insight: How Audi took the Dakar by storm with its hybrid game-changer

Aerodynamics were also a major point of focus, with designers able to reduce the drag by 15 percent despite having to widen the size of the cockpit as per the regulations.

Coming to the powertrain itself, the RS Q e-tron E2 essentially remains a hybrid, with a pair of electric motors supplemented by a DTM-derived engine that is used solely to charge the batteries - rather than power the vehicle directly.

Several improvements have been made to make the powertrain more efficient as well as fix some of the issues that appeared on its debut, including a surge in power that was noted when the wheels made less contact with the ground while jumping or on uneven terrain.

The servo pump, the air-conditioning cooling pump and the fans have also been optimised to reduce energy usage during stages.

A number of changes have also been made to make it easier for the crew to operate the vehicle. Firstly, flat and easily removable body components have replaced the previous bulky covers for the spare wheels to save time replacing punctured tyres.

Audi RS Q e-tron E2

Audi RS Q e-tron E2

Photo by: Audi Communications Motorsport

Secondly, the control buttons on the centre console have been reshuffled, with a new rotary switch added to allow both the driver and the co-driver to quickly toggle between the four system areas; namely stage, road, error and settings.

Initial running of the Audi RS Q e-tron E2 was completed under the supervision of head of test engineering Arnau Niubo Bosch, with the car now set to make its competition debut in Rally Morocco on October 1-6.

Audi will have its entire fleet of three cars in Morocco, driven by 14-time Dakar champion Stephane Peterhansel, fellow rally legend Carlos Sainz and two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom.

The updated car will take part in the 2023 Dakar Rally, which begins on New Year’s Day in Saudi Arabia.

“We’ve managed a good debut at the Dakar with the Audi RS Q e-tron and even our first stage victories in a motorsport discipline that is new to us,” says new Audi Sport managing director Rolf Michl, who has replaced Julius Seebach.

“The entire team is working excellently together and pulling in the same direction.

“As is usual at such an early stage, the drivers, co-drivers and technicians quickly agreed on the next development targets. We have summarised the result in a new evolution package – the RS Q e-tron E2.”

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