100 days until the start of the Dakar Rally. In these 100 days, everyone in Audi Sport's Dakar team focused on a common goal: to put the three best-prepared cars on the starting ramp in Hall in order to reach the big goal. With 100 days before the start of the Dakar Rally, one of the most famous and challenging motorsport events in the world, Audi Sport accelerated its race against time.
Audi Sport, which will compete with the RS Q e-tron, the most technologically advanced vehicle it has ever used in races, created the prototype of the vehicle in approximately twelve months. It launched on June 30 in Neuburg an der Donau and now 6 months after the launch date; It is preparing for the start that will be held on January 1, 2022 in Ha'il (Saudi Arabia).
Realizing this extremely complex project in a very short time, Audi Sport applies all its experience from previous races to the vehicles that will compete in the Dakar. The RS Q e-tron features an electric powertrain with two engine-generator units (MGUs), also known from Formula E. While the vehicle is in motion, the high-voltage battery, again with a technology known from DTM; charged by an energy converter consisting of an efficient TFSI engine.
Too many components, must be in harmony
Commenting on the RS Q e-tron work, Andreas Roos, who is the Project Leader of all factory-supported motorsport events at Audi Sport, stated that the Dakar Rally was extremely challenging, even for a conventionally running vehicle. Andreas Roos said, “With our powertrain concept, the challenge becomes more prominent. The chassis and suspension don't differ greatly, but we have a lot more components in the car that simply need to be high-performance, lightweight and work reliably in the harsh conditions of the Dakar. “They also need to fit together perfectly and work together seamlessly.”
Pointing out that the traditional Dakar vehicle has two main components, namely the internal combustion engine and transmission, Roos said, “Audi RS Q e-tron has an electric motor on the front axle, an electric motor on the rear axle, a high-voltage battery and another MGU from DTM. There is an energy converter consisting of a TFSI motor. And each of these components, for example, requires a special cooling system. This means that we have not only one cooling system in the vehicle, but as many as six cooling systems for the driver and co-driver, including the intercooler and air conditioning system.” said.
Every centimeter counts
Mentioning that the correct placement is another important problem with such a complex vehicle, Roos said, “We need to use every centimeter to place all the components in the vehicle. For example, replacing the front axle differential still takes a lot of time right now. This should be achievable faster in Dakar and is one of the issues we are still working on under intense time pressure.” provided information.
Stating that special conditions such as sand, water, cold and large height differences in the Dakar Rally also have a great impact on the correct placement, Roos said, “There are many sensitive electronic and electrical parts in the vehicle that we need to protect against sand and water as effectively as possible. We've learned a lot in the tests we've done so far and we're trying to transfer all our findings to the rally cars in time for the Dakar Rally." said.
four kilometers of cable
Underlining that another important part of the job is software, electrical and electronic systems, Roos said, “There are about four kilometers of cables in the vehicle, even if we do not count the two central control units and high voltage cables. The interaction of all powertrain components and the high-voltage battery is also extremely complex. If anything doesn't fit there, the vehicle will stop." stressed the importance of the issue.
Meanwhile, the assembly of the vehicles that will compete in the Dakar Rally has begun at the Audi Sport facilities in Neuburg an der Donau. Each vehicle has also received road approval, as the Audi RS Q e-tron has to drive through public roads in cross-country races.
Within the framework of the development program until December, numerous additional simulations are also carried out, such as pendulum testing in the climate chamber and special test rigs, to simulate the temperatures and altitude differences present in Dakar.