World Rally-Raid Championship

Audi withdraws W2RC appeal, back on hook for fine

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Credit: Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Team Audi Sport has opted not to further pursue their appeal of the €750,000 fine they received for skipping the rest of the World Rally-Raid Championship. They paid off €187,500 of the fine within forty-eight hours of withdrawing the appeal but still remain on the hook for the remaining €562,500.

Despite winning the season-opening Dakar Rally, Audi shut down their rally raid division weeks later because they did not have enough parts to run the next round in Abu Dhabi. The Audi RS Q e-tron E2, being the only electric vehicle in the top-level Ultimate class, uses special parts that only a niche pool of vendors supply, some of which necessitate a years-long process. The team was already planning to disband at the end of 2024 after contesting the full season to focus on Formula One, though technical partner Sven Quandt noted that Audi AG’s new CEO Gernot Döllner did not wish to continue the effort after the Dakar.

Although the team stresses their shuttering was circumstantial, they had already signed up for the full championship. In response, the FIA handed down the fine on 27 February, the same day as Stage #1 of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, with €562,500 suspended provided they do not skip anymore races. The fine was then frozen in its entirety when Audi announced their intent to appeal, only for the FIA International Court of Appeal to be notified of the withdrawal on 26 March.

FIA stewards formally announced Thursday, during Stage #2 of the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid, that the fine will now be enforced again. With Audi obviously not racing the event, which the stewards’ report mentioned, it is likely that the FIA will give them another fine and the same will continue for the remaining two W2RC races, the Desafío Ruta 40 and the Rallye du Maroc in October.

Teams that sign up for the manufacturer’s championship are required to enter all five rounds, which BAIC ORV learned the hard way in 2023 when they received a €10,000 fine and had all their points deducted after missing the last two events. Registering for the 2024 manufacturer’s points cost €55,000.

While Audi is not racing in Portugal, Dakar winner Carlos Sainz linked up with Quandt’s X-raid Team and is racing a Mini JCW Rally Plus; he is currently third overall after two stages. His now former Audi colleagues Mattias Ekström and Stéphane Peterhansel have not raced in the W2RC since Dakar, though Peterhansel’s co-driver Édouard Boulanger is now with race leader Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Audi was not the only team fined on Thursday. South Racing Can-Am was docked €5,000 (half of which is suspended assuming no repeats) because the medical kit on Dania Akeel‘s car was too light during pre-race scrutineering, weighing in at .963 kilograms—with “several missing items”—when the minimum is 1.5 kg. While Akeel does not race for South, the team supplies kits to multiple drivers regardless of affiliation.

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