While there are rumors Audi Sport customer racing programs could be on the chopping block by the end of the 2023 season in an effort to focus on F1, the same source (Motorsport.com) is suggesting Audi will continue and expand its efforts with the RS Q e-tron at Dakar.
According to the piece, Audi Sport will not only contest the 2024 Dakar Rally, it will also compete in the entire season of the FIA World Rally Raid Championship series of which the Dakar Rally is part.
Though massively cool in appearance and spirit, Audi Sport’s 3-car campaign at the Dakar Rally has yet to win outright. Such a move to full season could see that change. Such a move would mimic the launch of the R8 LMP1 program back at the turn of the century. Audi first cherry-picked Le Mans with no victory, only planning a pre-event shakedown at the 12 Hours of Sebring. The same has happened with the Dakar program, with a very few other World Rally Raid Championships participations mainly hoping to shake down the highly experimental RS Q e-tron. Having more testing in racing would most certainly help the program evolve and build experience for the drivers and race team staff.
If Audi did end all of its customer racing programs, that would also leave the RS Q e-tron as the only remaining motorsport program for Audi until F1 arrives in 2026… which is a long way away. And the brand hasn’t been without any motorsport program for a very, very long time.
From our perspective, we’re hoping customer racing and Dakar programs remain. Proving engineering and technology in racing is part of Audi’s DNA and a highly important driver of owner engagement for the brand.