Neuburg a. d. Donau, October 30, 2023 – They stand for efficiency and enthusiasm in equal measure: Five high-performance Audi models for racing and action embody the path of electrified drives. The brand was among the pioneers in 2012 when it began electrifying its drivetrains in racing. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro from Le Mans, the Formula E race car e-tron FE07, the Dakar Rally prototype RS Q e-tron and the two show cars e-tron Vision Gran Turismo and S1 e-tron quattro Hoonitron have now met for the first time. Nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen met with the current three Audi drivers from the Dakar program to experience the progress made.
Electric, fast-paced and emotionally stirring: The five models that were united for the first time at Audi Sport in Neuburg an der Donau even inspire seasoned race drivers. After decades of professional experience and major victories, Mattias Ekström, Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz were impressed by the development of electric drives. With “Mister Le Mans” Tom Kristensen, the professional who drove the forefather of all e-tron models in motorsport during his career was on hand at “e-tron on track.” It was eleven years ago when Audi celebrated the first victory with a hybrid drive in the Le Mans 24 Hours with the R18 e-tron quattro and the titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC. “After Audi had already demonstrated its pioneering spirit with the quattro in rallying in the eighties, Le Mans was later a first-class technology laboratory,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Rolf Michl. “That’s where the story of our alternative powertrains began, which continues to set new milestones to this day. We inspire millions of fans with them and show worldwide how attractive and effective electric drives are.”
Audi won three times in succession with the R18 e-tron quattro hybrid sports car at Le Mans from 2012 to 2014. In total, Audi even wrote its name into the list of winners of the world’s most important endurance race 13 times. “The R18 was a strongly driver-oriented, very aggressive car. You always got good feedback up to the limit,” Tom Kristensen recalls. “It was the most complex car I’ve ever driven.” At “e-tron on track,” the LMP1 race car came back to life. Of course, as a nine-time winner and thus the most successful participant from 100 years of Le Mans history, Kristensen explained his former race car to the most successful Dakar participant Stéphane Peterhansel. “For me as a Frenchman, a race as rich in history as the Le Mans 24 Hours is something very special. Formula 1, Le Mans and Dakar are monuments of motorsport. That's why it was clear that I’d choose the R18 today,” said the 14-time Dakar winner. His drive in Neuburg was an awakening for the 58-year-old desert expert: “An amazing car. Everything is incredibly direct and precise. For me, of course, circuit racing is unfamiliar. But it was enormous fun. And the concept shows that the electric drive pays off: You can clearly feel how the hybrid drive additionally accelerates the car.”
Team-mate Carlos Sainz, two-time World Rally Champion and three-time Dakar winner, started in the most powerful car of the quintet. The brand developed the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo five years ago as a “race cab” for guests in the FIA Formula E Championship. “More than 800 hp and a purely electric drive. That was incredible,” marveled the 60-year-old Spaniard. “A great car that also looks fantastic. Once you’ve had the chance to try out such a powerful electric car, you only want to drive powertrains like that.” For Formula E itself, the Audi e-tron FE07 was created for the 2020/21 season. The battery electric powered race car marked the next step in Audi’s motorsport strategy. It could mobilize up to 340 hp depending on the operating mode as stipulated by the regulations.
Mattias Ekström, familiar with powerful race cars as a two-time DTM champion and former rallycross world champion, chose the Audi S1 e-tron quattro Hoonitron for “e-tron on track”. Legendary drifter Ken Block thrilled millions of viewers in the Electrikhana video with the spectacular prototype, visually reminiscent of the Audi Sport quattro S1 from the 1987 Pikes Peak mountain race. “I chose this car because I’m a big fan of quattro drive,” said the 45-year-old Swede. “I drove this car once before in Davos on snow and ice. And now I had to realize that the power is so extreme even on asphalt that I could have drifted the entire track. I’ve never experienced anything like that before.”
The series of electrically powered prototypes for sport and action finally culminates in the latest design: The Audi RS Q e-tron as the current race car of Mattias Ekström, Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz is designed for the toughest conditions imaginable. It has an electric drive with energy converter and high-voltage battery. The concept proves itself in relentless use at desert rallies and copes with extreme demands on energy management. Audi achieved overall victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in 2022 with this prototype. In two Dakar appearances to date, the brand has also achieved six stage victories with it and a total of 28 podium results in the daily standings. This spectacular quintet of models made some of the most legendary racers dream for a day, just as electric drives from Audi make the dream of high efficiency with maximum driving pleasure come true in everyday life.
e-tron on track gallery
Videos of “e-tron on track” on audimedia.tv
Oct 30: Teaser video “e-tron on track”
Nov 01: Introduction by Tom Kristensen
Nov 04: Stéphane Peterhansel in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Nov 07: Carlos Sainz in the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo
Nov 10: Mattias Ekström in the Audi S1 e-tron quattro Hoonitron