Monday, June 24, 2024

Sven Quandt open to continuing RS Q e-tron programme after Audi Dakar exit

The Audi RS Q e-tron programme might still have some gas left even after Audi ends their Dakar Rally division following the 2024 race. Speaking with, Sven Quandt “did not hesitate to answer ‘yes’” when asked if he would like to assume custody of the vehicles and field them under the Q Motorsport banner.

Q Motorsport, founded by Quandt alongside his sons Thomas and Tobias, serves as Audi’s factory team. Quandt also runs X-raid Team, which has a limited partnership with Mini to race in T1 and one with Yamaha for T3 competition.

In mid-July, Audi Motorsport head Rolf Michl confirmed the manufacturer would end multiple programmes including the Dakar arm and factory support for GT3 customer teams as they prepare to enter Formula One as an engine supplier in 2026. 2024 was already slated to be the end of a three-year contract to operate the team.

In Audi’s début season, Mattias EkströmStéphane Peterhansel, and Carlos Sainz all won a stage at the 2022 Dakar Rally. Peterhansel eventually claimed the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge to become the first electric car overall winner, while Sainz set the fastest overall time at the Rallye du Maroc.

However, 2023 has been a disaster by comparison as they struggled to keep pace with Toyota and Prodrive at Dakar before Peterhansel and Sainz crashed out. The debacle sparked some doubt on whether Audi would even return for 2024, but the team regrouped for testing in May before entering this weekend’s Baja España Aragón. Still, Audi’s difficulties continued in Spain as Peterhansel and Ekström both suffered electrical problems on the second and final day on Saturday.

Audi currently fields the RS Q e-tron E2, which competes in the T1.U “Ultimate” subcategory for electric T1 cars. Quandt explained to that he would not like to discard the vehicle after investing so much resources and effort into developing it, and added that Q Motorsport and Audi have already “held talks” about transferring the cars though nothing has been confirmed.

After Spain, Audi will run the Rallye du Maroc on 13–18 October before entering the 2024 Dakar Rally which begins on 5 January.