If Audi is at the next Dakar, I’ll be with them”. These words from Carlos Sainzpronounced in the BRAND Sports Weekend from Málaga a few days ago, as well as confirming that the Madrilenian is willing to try, one more year, to win his fourth Dakar… also they opened a glimmer of doubt. the do presence of the German team in the next edition of the Arab rally.

A priori nothing would make me think that. He Audi project at the Dakar was at least three years. Incidentally, the contracts of its three pilots were (and are) of that duration. so much Sainz as peterhansel as ekstrom they should be on the starting lineup next January. However, to date, this it’s not so clear.

The EoT, key for Audi to be in Dakar 2024

It is true that just two years after the first announcement of the Dakar program – dated November 2020 – Audi embarked on the expensive formula 1 project, which could speed up the start of the incursions, as happened, in fact, with the Le Mans team. But the real problem, as MARCA learned, is that at Audi they are not willing to compete on technical inferiority relative to its rivals.

Audi felt inferior in the past Dakar 2023.

As Carlos Sainz has said so many times, the complexity of the hybrid RS Q e-tron not only does not bring any benefit to the manufacturerbut in the first Dakar under the ‘Technology Equivalence’ (EoT)at Audi they consider that they are in inferiority with toyota (remember that the FIA ​​even fixed the performance of the Audis, giving them more power from stage 5 onwards).

in german brand They are willing not to participate in any World Rally-Raid (W2RC) events again until this mechanism is “fair”. In fact, the three pilots of the team were registered to be able to participate in any of the races, but it will not be until there is a satisfactory solution for Audi.

For Audi, the EoT is obviously an important basis for the return to the Dakar

Rolf Michl, head of competition at Audi

MARCA wanted to transfer the following question to the Head of Audi Sport Rolf Michl: Does Audi’s presence at the Dakar 2024 depend on the EoT configuration? As expected, the response was as diplomatic as it was ambiguous. “For Audi, the EoT is obviously an important basis for the Dakar return”Michel explains.

“For us it is important that the competition is fairregardless of the technology used. We are having constructive talks with FIA and ASO based on the analysis of these Dakar years and we noticed that everyone is interested in having a fair solution“, adds the German.

Rolf Michl, Head of Audi Sport, together with Ben Sulayem, President of the FIA

“Above the limit”

A justice that at Audi consider that it was not like that in the Dakar 2023: “This year we verified that, leaving aside the harsh weather and terrain conditions, especially in the first stages we had more pressure due to the lack of power compared to our competitors. For this reason, our pilots unfortunately had to cross the limit to qualify for the top positions, which caused two serious accidentsrecalls Michael.

In the early stages we had more pressure due to the lack of power. Our pilots had to go over the limit, which resulted in two serious accidents

Rolf Michl, head of competition at Audi

O FIA acted and gave a boost to the hybrid prototypes but, for Audi, it was too late: “With the additional 8 kW of stage 5 we feel more competitive, but we were still dragging the ballast of the first four days“. And at the Ingolstadt brand they don’t want what could be their last chance to win the Dakar to be conditioned by the regulations again.

The ASO, the FIA ​​and the manufacturers have time to resolve this aspect, which seems to be decisive for the next Dakar. Audi has already played its ordago: Now it’s the organization’s turn to respond.