Audi Sport signs up for Dakar in 2022 but drops Formula E campaign
WEC return also on the cards among shake-up of Audi’s motorsport activities
Audi Sport has announced plans to compete in the 2022 Dakar Rally and has also revealed its intention to return to World Endurance Championship circuit racing. This news is accompanied by a restructuring of Audi Sport’s upper management and the closing of Audi’s Formula E campaign.
For the Dakar, Audi Sport is building a Rally Raid-style car, rather than a WRC-style production car-based machine. It will be designed specifically to survive the Dakar’s famously tough conditions, with drive coming exclusively from electric motors powering all four wheels. The electric powertrain will be supplemented by a small turbocharged petrol engine, which will act as an on-board generator to charge the batteries and enable the car to cover the vast distances required each day during the event.
This will be the first electrified Dakar racer from a large-scale manufacturer, and as with Audi’s past efforts in WEC racing will position the company as a technological leader in the discipline. And speaking of WEC, Audi Sport has also announced that it is preparing to return to endurance racing, campaigning an all-new racer in the new LMDh prototype category at highlight events such as the Le Mans 24 Hours and Daytona 24 Hours.
Audi Sport has yet to define specific timing for its return to WEC, but it will be part of an influx of factory manufacturers joining the sport over the next two to three years, spurred on by the new LMDh and LMP1 Hypercar classes.
To offset these new campaigns, Audi will end the factory support of its Formula E team after six years. Initially partnering with Abt Sportsline, and later committing to full factory support in 2017, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler has been the most successful team in the short history of FE, a series with a direct relationship with Audi’s bourgeoning EV road car range.
So Audi Sport is dropping its participation in one not particularly interesting race series to return to two others that are as central to Audi’s heartland as Quattro itself. Sounds like a good trade deal to us.