For much of Audi’s history, rally racing has been a core component of the company’s identity. And while the Ingolstadt outfit’s Group B glory days are long in the rearview mirror, the Four Rings firm is looking to reestablish its dominance in an even more grueling class of off-road motorsport, setting its sights on the infamous Dakar Rally. After competing in the two-week rally raid event last year, the German marque is returning to the desert, this time with a second-generation version of its prototype RS Q e-tron E2 Dakar Rally Racer.
The fully-electric E2-spec RS Q e-tron features a lengthy list of updates over its predecessor, the most notable of which is undoubtedly its all-new suite of redesigned bodywork. Made from ultra-lightweight yet rugged composite materials, the new bodywork has been aerodynamically optimized, with drag being reduced by around 15 percent while also being easier for the racer’s drivers to remove when swapping out wheels. What’s more, the second-gen RS Q e-tron – which doesn’t share a single body part with its predecessor — also sports a lower center of gravity, bolstering handling and stability.
Under the proverbial hood, the technicians at Audi have treated the rally racer to a more efficient EV powertrain. The new version is also lighter than the first-gen racer, though its top speed is still electronically-limited to 105mph. Wearing Audi’s signature red and black “Launch Livery,” the new RS Q e-tron also rides on a custom set of off-road-ready ten-spoke wheels from team partner, Rotiform.
Helmed by a trio of driver teams — Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist, Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger, and Lucas Cruz and Carlos Sainz — the Audi RS Q e-tron E2 will take on the 2022 Morocco Rally in October before setting its sights on the 2023 Dakar Rally next year.