Audi has secured a historic victory at the Dakar Rally with its innovative Audi RS Q e-tron. This achievement marks not only Audi’s first win at the event but the first time a low-emission prototype equipped with an electric drive, high-voltage battery, and energy converter has triumphed in one of the world’s most challenging desert rallies.
Landing the first-place win for the automaker was a team affectionately known as “The Spaniards,” made up of racers Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz. The two covered approximately 7,900 kilometers or roughly 4,900 miles, leading the pack by a significant 1 hour and 20 minutes.
The victory at Dakar Rally 2024 is a personal milestone for Sainz and Cruz, marking their fourth win in this grueling event. The duo had maintained a consistent lead since the sixth stage, previously achieving first-place finishes in 2010, 2018, and 2020.
The rally was also a stage for impressive performances by other Audi teams in the RS Q e-tron. Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist initially showed strong prospects with a prologue win, and Stéphane Peterhansel, a record holder with 14 Dakar victories, secured his 50th stage win. However, both teams faced mechanical setbacks, with Ekström/Bergkvist finishing in the top 50 and Peterhansel/Boulanger falling back to 22nd place due to a hydraulic system defect.
Sainz also shared his thoughts on the victory, stating “I am very happy for Audi, the many fans of the brand and my fellow countrymen. This victory means a lot to me. It’s my fourth victory with the fourth different brand. The team has developed a very special concept with which we are the first in the Dakar Rally. Only Audi was brave enough to take this risk. I’m happy that we’ve made history with it. And in one of the toughest editions of this rally that I have experienced. My family is here, as is the whole Audi family. Thanks to the brand, to Rolf Michl and Sven Quandt, who believed in us and made this possible. And thanks to Mattias, Emil, Stéphane, and Edouard, who helped us so much. This is a great victory.”
Audi’s entry into this rally was marked by stiff competition from established brands like Toyota and Ford and experienced teams from Prodrive. The rally itself posed immense challenges with daily stages often exceeding 400 kilometers, including two marathon stages with limited or no service. The total distance covered was 7,883 kilometers, featuring a variety of terrains, like sharp scree, gravel roads, and daunting dune chains.
“It is difficult to put this victory into words,” said Rolf Michl, the Head of Audi Motorsport, adding “We have written a piece of motorsport history. It will take a few more days for this to really sink in. This sport is also about luck. We lacked that last year. We had an amazing team that never gave up, even when we had setbacks. If you trust your team, they can even achieve the seemingly impossible. We overcame this challenge with long and hard work.
Our winners Carlos and Lucas are both exceptional. Carlos is not only a top driver but a legend with a big heart who cares about people, immerses himself in every detail, and is never satisfied with himself. It is an honor and a merit that he has competed for our team. Equally, this success would not have been possible without Lucas’ conscientious work and skill. A huge thank you to the whole team.”