Less than two months after winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge to become the first electric vehicle to win a rally raid overall, the Audi RS Q e-tron was shown off to the public alongside the Ducati DesertX at a joint event in Sardinia.
Representing Audi in the demo were Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz, Stéphane Peterhansel and navigator Edouard Boulanger, and Emil Bergkvist. Danilo Petrucci showed up on Ducati’s behalf. In January’s Dakar Rally, the RS Q e-tron made its competition début as Sainz won two stages with Cruz; two more stage victories came for the car courtesy of Mattias Ekström and Peterhansel, and Ekström finished ninth overall in the Cars category. Peterhansel secured the RS Q e-tron’s maiden win in March at Abu Dhabi.
“What Audi has achieved with this concept is technically unique and a real benefit for us drivers,” Sainz stated. “The event in Sardinia was great to communicate the benefits of the electric drive. All the media were impressed throughout.”
Petrucci is a longtime member of the Ducati family, racing for the stable in MotoGP from 2015 to 2020 with two wins and currently competing in MotoAmerica for Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York. The latter came after a brief stint with KTM Factory Racing, which included dabbling in rally raid for the first time at Dakar. He won the Bikes overall in Stage #5 to become the first MotoGP alumnus with a stage victory in the legendary event.
As part of the test, Petrucci rode alongside Sainz in the RS Q e-tron and piloted the DesertX. The latter is Ducati’s first foray into off-roading and therefore has two riding modes intended for such purposes (Enduro and Rally) in addition to street use.
“It’s a dream come true for me, because already as a child I was a fan of Carlos Sainz,” commented Petrucci. “You can’t describe the feeling in the cockpit. I didn’t expect the RS Q e-tron to be so fast off-road. Its technology shows the way to the future of the automobile.”
The DesertX was adorned with a design based on the RS Q e-tron. Andrea Ferraresi, the director of design department Centro Stile Ducati, explained, “When we saw the RS Q e-tron for the first time, we couldn’t help but imagine it in action among the dunes and rocks together with the DesertX. This event gave us the opportunity to do so and so we decided to create an exclusive livery, inspired by the colours and graphics of the Audi prototype. Seeing cars and motorcycles together off-road is truly a great show. The collaboration between the two brands and between their respective style centres is strong and important.”
Sardinia is a fitting location to showcase the two rally raid-minded vehicles. An island located off the coast of Italy, it has hosted the World Rally Championship‘s Rally Italia Sardegna since 2004 and previously the European Rally Championship‘s Costa Smeralda from 1978 to 1994 before becoming a historic motorsport rally. The Sardegna Rally Race was conducted for bikers from 1984 to 2017 and was on the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship (predecessor to the World Rally-Raid Championship) from 2014 to 2016. Since 2021, Sardinia has also hosted Extreme E‘s Island X Prix, with a double-header scheduled for 6–10 July. Sainz finished seventh in the inaugural edition.