Audi Sport has announced its driver lineup for its 2022 Dakar Rally project with an all-star cast. The famous Dakar Rally will return for its 44th edition where Audi will bring three electrified cars driven by a very credible driver-team line-up. It will be the first time that a manufacturer will compete for overall victory with cars using electrified powertrains with the new T1-E class. Audi has roped in Mattias Ekström with co-pilot Emil Bergkvist, Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger and Carlos Sainz with Lucas Cruz for their Project Dakar.
Audi’s factory team exited Formula E to shift focus towards its Dakar ambitions. Late last year, Audi announced its Project Dakar in partnership with Q Motorsport. The factory entry will Audi race at 44th edition of the Dakar. Audi’s prototype rally raid vehicle will use an alternative drive concept that combines an electric drivetrain with a high-voltage battery that uses a turbo petrol engine as an onboard generator. It will be the first time for the combination to be used in Dakar. Audi’s venture into Dakar will see the brand return to rallying after it pioneered the four-wheel-drive rally cars with the Quattro in the 80s.
Ekstrom has spent nearly his entire racing career with the Audi brand. Ekstrom brings some rally experience with his stints in the WRC between 1999–2000, 2003–2006 and 2021. While he also has the 2016 World Rally Cross driver championship to his name, he is best known for his performance in the DTM series where he holds two championship wins. The Swedish driver is also racing in the recently developed Extreme E series for Cupra.
Carlos Sainz is a man that needs no introduction either. The Spaniard, nicknamed “El Matador” is a two-time WRC champion in 1990 and 1992. He holds three Dakar wins to his name (2010, 2018, 2020).
Stephane Peterhansel is the most experienced of the three drivers at the Dakar having won the rally six times in the motorcycle class and another eight times in the car category. He holds the record for the most wins at the Dakar earning himself the title “Mister Dakar”. He currently holds the title as the 2021 Dakar winner as well.
The 2022 Dakar Rally is scheduled to take place between January 2-14. The cross-country rally raid will again be held in Saudi Arabia with the event commencing from Ha’il to conclude in Jeddah. It will see a total of 4,000 km special stage section and a total 3,000 km liaison. The 2022 Dakar Rally will see a new T1-E category reserved for competitors to use prototypes using alternative fuels. Audi’s Dakar project will compete in this very category. By 2030, Dakar aims to go eco-friendly entirely.
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