While Volkswagen is withdrawing from motorsport for the time being, Audi is facing one of the greatest challenges that exist in motorsport: the brand with the four rings will be competing in the famous Dakar Rally for the first time in 2022 with an innovative prototype. The alternative drive concept combines for the first time an electric drive train with a high-voltage battery and a highly efficient energy converter. In future, marathon rallying will be the spearhead of the company's motorsport commitment. "Diverse involvement in motorsport is and will remain an integral part of the Audi strategy“, Says Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management and Board Member for Technical Development and Model Series at AUDI AG. "We want to continue to demonstrate the brand promise 'Vorsprung durch Technik' in top international motorsport and develop innovative technologies for series use. The toughest rally in the world is the perfect stage for this."
Audi is returning to rallying
Audi is thus returning to rallying after many international successes in a wide variety of categories, with which the brand's success story in motorsport began. From 1981 the Audi quattro revolutionized rallying. To this day, permanent all-wheel drive is not only standard in rally vehicles. It guarantees maximum safety even with the sportiest Audi production models, and with the e-tron models now also electrically. With the use of an alternative drive concept in the Dakar Rally, Audi is now facing the most extreme conditions. The vehicle will be powered by a powerful electric drive train. The energy required for this comes from a high-voltage battery which, if required, can be charged while driving via an energy converter in the form of a highly efficient TFSI engine. The aim is to permanently improve the performance of the electric drive and the battery in the coming years. The know-how gained in this way should then flow into the further development of future series models.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler most successful team in Formula E history
Audi is the first automobile manufacturer to be committed to developing a victorious prototype with an alternative drive concept for the Dakar Rally and is once again a pioneer in motorsport. In 2012, Audi achieved the first victory of a hybrid racing car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro remained unbeaten in the world's most important long-distance race three times in a row. Audi has also been successful in fully electric motorsport with Formula E since 2014. Only in supportive form for the team around the long-term partner ABT Sportsline and from 2017 with a full factory commitment. After six years, the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team is the most successful team in Formula E history with a total of 43 podium places - including twelve wins. Special highlights: winning the drivers' championship in 2017 and winning the team championship in the premiere season as a works team in 2018.
Dakar Rally replaces involvement in Formula E.
"Formula E accompanied Audi during the transformation phase“, Says Markus Duesmann. "Today, electromobility is no longer a dream of the future for the four rings, but the present.“The Audi e-tron is a bestseller in many markets. With the RS e-tron GT, Audi will shortly be bringing its sporty spearhead to the road. And as early as 2025, around 40 percent of sales should be achieved with purely electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. "That is why we are taking the next step in electrified motorsport and facing the most extreme conditions. The Dakar Rally with its many technical freedoms is a perfect test laboratory for us.“The Dakar Rally replaces Audi’s factory involvement in Formula E, which will no longer be continued in the form of its own team after the 2021 season. The use of the newly developed Audi drivetrain by customer teams will remain possible beyond next year.
The second major pillar remains customer sport
The second major pillar in AUDI AG's motorsport program remains customer racing. Audi Sport customer racing offers its customers a comprehensive model portfolio as well as intensive service for worldwide racing. The program also includes starts with the Audi R8 LMS in important endurance races such as the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring and in international racing series such as the Intercontinental GT Challenge. "In addition, we are evaluating other possible fields of activity for us in international motorsport“, Says Julius Seebach, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. "We keep an eye on the wishes of our customers as well as the future strategy of the company, which is clearly focused on electrification and CO2-neutral mobility. That is why we are preparing intensively for entry into the new LMDh sports car category with its highlight races, the 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans. The most important message for our fans is that motorsport will continue to play an important role at Audi."
Julius Seebach takes responsibility for motorsport activities
From December 1, 2020, Julius Seebach will also be responsible for the company's motorsport activities in addition to his role as Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. Dieter Gass, who has held managerial positions at Audi Sport for almost ten years and was jointly responsible for the sporting success as Head of Audi Motorsport from 2017 to 2020, will dedicate himself to new tasks after successfully completing his factory DTM commitment.
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