DakarWorld Rally-Raid Championship

Audi reveals RS Q e-tron E2

2 Mins read
Credit: Audi Communications Motorsport

Ever wondered what a Dakar Rally vehicle would look like if it went on a diet?

Audi seemed to bring this pondrance to reality with the unveiling of the Audi RS Q e-tron E2, a thinner and lighter version of the RS Q e-tron that will enter October’s Rallye du Maroc ahead of the 2023 Dakar Rally.

“We have combined all the important lessons in a very short time. The result of our ideas is the E2 evolution,” said Audi Sport Head of Vehicle Operations Uwe Breuling. “Our development team’s determined and cost-efficient work has prepared us perfectly for our second Dakar Rally.”

The E2 is a stark departure from its predecessor, being much lighter to comply with new regulations for the T1U category that mandates a 2,100-kg weight limit; this consequently also lowers the car’s centre of gravity. The lighter weight also comes from using easier-to-remove body parts, which helps crews change tyres.

The cockpit is much wider to accommodate new designs for the roof and both hoods, though drag is still reduced due to the new body. Inside the cockpit, the driver and co-driver’s tools generally remain the same save for certain changes like the introduction of four “system areas” that can be be toggled by either pilot: “Stage” to open functions for racing like a speed limiter, “Road” for turn signals and the rear-view camera, “Error” to diagnose problems with the car, and “Settings” for mechanics.

The flatter shape of the front seems to resemble a duck bill or what Audi developers nicknamed an “elephant’s foot”, which provides better air flow. The improved aerodynamics is intended to “further reduce the energy requirements of the electrically powered car,” as its chief designer Axel Löffler explained.

Copyright: Michael Kunkel/Audi Communications Motorsport

“The Audi RS Q e-tron E2 does not adopt a single body part from its predecessor,” added Löffler.

For a drivetrain, the E2 has an energy converter which is made up of an internal combustion engine, a generator, and electric motors on the front and rear axles. Such a setup was also used on the first RS Q e-tron, who used an MGU05 motor from the now defunct Audi Formula E division in tandem with a DTM turbo engine.

The E2 will be piloted by Mattias Ekström, Stéphane Peterhansel, and Carlos Sainz with Emil Bergkvist, Edouard Boulanger, and Lucas Cruz respectively as co-drivers. Ekström won four stages in the first RS Q e-tron at the 2022 Dakar Rally before Peterhansel secured the first overall rally raid win for an electric vehicle at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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