Back in November, Audi announced it was quitting Formula E to have a crack at winning the formidable Dakar Rally with a range-extender EV. Oh, and that it’d re-enter Le Mans in 2023. And now we know who will be driving the team’s three Dakar cars come January 2022, when the world’s toughest rally gets underway in Ha’il, Saudi Arabia.
First up is Stéphane Peterhansel. The 55-year-old Frenchman has won the Dakar a record-breaking 14 times—six times on a motorcycle, eight times in a car. His co-driver is Edouard Boulanger. The pair won this year’s rally, their first as a team, for Mini.
Next we have none other than Carlos Sainz. The two-time WRC champion and three-time Dakar winner (his last was in 2020) will be supported by long-time co-driver Lucas Cruz.
Last, and by no means least, we have Mattias Ekström and his co-driver Emil Bergkvist. Ekström has won the DTM title twice and the World Rallycross Championship once, and has also competed in NASCAR, the WRC and Aussie Supercars. This year he’s racing for Cupra in Extreme E; 2022 will be his second Dakar.
So...Audi’s not messing about, is it? Julius Seebach, managing director of Audi Sport, says “It’s no exaggeration to speak of a ‘dream team.’”
“Stéphane is the most successful Dakar driver of all time. Carlos is a multiple Dakar winner and World Rally champion. With Mattias, we already celebrated many Audi successes in the past. He is one of the world’s most versatile drivers.”
The teams will campaign a new Audi off-road racer that’s currently in development. It’ll take the form of a range-extender EV that pairs a high-voltage battery with a “highly efficient TFSI engine” to keep it charged.
Fancy their chances?
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.
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