Audi has to decide its future

Since Audi’s project for the Dakar came true, Carlos Sainz knew how to incessantly remember the courage that try to conquer the desert with an electric prototype, which became the biggest challenge for the man from Madrid and the rest of the team so far. The German brand dared with something unprecedented that was as attractive as it was intriguing. Above all because its first generation arrived with limited kilometers and it was necessary to discover all the buts about those who worked throughout 2022 at the Neuburg factory. They made a car to win, “the main things” were done for this Dakar, but as soon as he stepped foot in Yanbu, Rolf Michl, head of Audi Motorsport, knew that “in the desert you always have to be lucky”.

The German I hoped to save the misfortunes with some podium of the second generation of the RS Q e-tron, they felt “very well prepared”, as Michl commented with AS, but in his first contact with the Dakar he experienced firsthand what the toughest rally in the world is and why. Simultaneously Audi he lost his two great assets with an unprecedented double accident in the race. Peterhansel abandoned in Stage 6 and Sainz continued to re-engage, to suffer the same fate as his teammate as soon as he returned from the break. The schemes were completely broken and among the convictions of the team, doubts began to arise in some aspects that seemed to have controlled as the damping.

The rainfall brought to light a weak point which became for a large part of the race his Achilles heel. In fact, the day Carlos left, Ekstrom tried “another set up of shock absorbers that seems to have worked better” as reported by the man from Madrid during his farewell, but now the question that arises is what will happen to a project that was born three years old and after two, he still hasn’t had much success. Sainz hopes that his stage with Audi will end up living the same end as with Volkswagen (with whom he won his first Touareg in 2010). But Michl left the continuation of the project up in the air when this medium asked him what would happen from 2024 (when they would celebrate their third year): “We will see how development goes. We have taken a big step forward from the first to the second generation and I think that performance and coefficient reduction with the weight it has been quite impressive. I would not exclude any option (about whether or not they will continue), but We will mainly look at performance and then decide.”

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This Dakar opens a “period of reflection” for the German brand as Sainz described it, in which, in addition to making internal assessments, it will also be necessary to “analyze a lot of data, but not only from Audi, but from other parties in that Balance of Performance”. They will do so in January when they meet with the FIA ​​to try to match their limitations with those of the rest of the category participants who continue to compete powered by a conventional engine. With the podium they were looking for in this 45th edition They wanted to show that Audi “was not just participating”, but both that, and the perfect Dakar for Audi that would have ended “with the entire team healthy at the Dammam finish line”, will have to wait.

The arrival of F1

In parallel, the Neuburg factory will continue to host different projects in competition, beyond the ambitious challenge of the Dakar. The great novelty will be its participation in F1 from 2026 and despite the fact that “of course, it will be the largest motorsport project at Audi, the rest of the projects are within the motor sports cycle plan.” What does that mean? That “the Dakar project is clearly planned until 2024″ and the needs required by the landing of the German brand in the great circus, they should not have any influence on the direction they decide to take on the Dakar. “The only thing we don’t know is if some of the specialists will switch to the F1 project″, recognizes Michl, and together with a plan that currently has an expiration date, they are in the mythical raid “to achieve a podium”. What will happen next is still up in the air.

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