Audi F1 Focus to Also Impact RS Q e-tron Dakar Program

News broke earlier this week of Audi’s focus F1 impacting customer racing programs, with no factory backed programs in 2024 and the ceasing of new car sales early next year. Now, it seems a decision on the Dakar program involving the RS Q e-tron rally raid vehicle has also been made, and the program will end after the 2024 event.

In a clever reuse of technology, Audi Sport had developed the RS Q e-tron using its Formula E motor and 2.0-liter turbocharged engine from the RS 5 DTM, repurposing them for use in the FIA World Rally Raid Championship and most notably the Dakar Rally. The effort seemed to be where Audi Sport shined best, proving technology in racing and flourishing in a series with relatively open spec where the brand could push experimental hardware.

There were shortcomings. The FIA World Rally Raid Championship is costly to take part and is highly obscure in the eyes of fans, making even Le Mans efforts in the early 2000s seem considerably more mainstream. That coverage of the events is also extremely difficult likely didn’t help. Nevertheless, Audi Sport’s communications department gave it a valiant effort, with daily updates from the multi-week events. Alas, they also didn’t win in 2022 or 2023, but such is the case in the brutal Dakar rally where mechanical endurance can prove a fickle thing to achieve… especially with such experimental tech and a wave of competitors very vocally lobbying against that tech lest it make competition too expensive or certain competitors too dominant.

Now, according to a report in Germany’s Motorsport-Magazin, Audi has decided to end the program after the 2024 race. When it does, that will leave F1 as the only factory-supported motorsport program in its portfolio. Doing the math, it’ll be over a year between next January’s 2024 Dakar Rally ends and the Audi F1 program begins in the 2026 season.

Granted, that doesn’t mean Audi Sport won’t be racing. What it does mean though its that it’ll only be in a support role for customers. The current mix of homologated customer racing cars like the R8 LMS GT3 can continue for now, with technical support, spare parts service and on site customer support set to continue for now.

Audi Sport boss Rofl Michl commented to Motorsport-Magazin: “This is the very clear decision that with the focus on the Formula 1 entry 2026 here from 2024, there will unfortunately no longer be financial support for the deployment teams from our side. This specifically refers to the support of parts packages and Audi sports drivers. We will ensure that our current vehicles can remain in operation in every respect. But the strategic deployment has no longer been approved for us from 2024. We had to accept the decision from the Audi board with a heavy heart.”