Is the Audi RS Q e-tron a Test Bed for the activesphere Concept?

Audi RS Q e-tron

Is Audi just playing in the sand? Or can we expect to see some real-world application of rally tech in the future?

Last week, I was traveling when Audi released details on the latest version of its RS Q e-tron E2, which will eventually compete in the 2023 Dakar Rally.  Due to the remote nature of the competitions it’s designed for, the electric off-roader uses an onboard internal-combustion engine as a generator to charge the batteries. It’s basically an entirely new machine from the version Ingolstadt entered last year, which made history by becoming the first electric-powered vehicle to take a stage victory.

Twist still comes from a dual motor setup, which features one at each axle. But revisions to the bodywork have improved the drag coefficient by a whopping 15 percent, and great pains were taken to reduce the overall weight of the rig, which was already north of the class minimum. Along with saving weight, the new carbon fiber fenders were also designed to help speed tire changes. Plus, engineers also made changes to the engine management and air conditioning systems to ensure no precious energy goes to waste.

Now, we’ll have to see how well the RS Q e-tron E2 does when it enters next month’s Morocco Rally. But looking at this beast of a machine made me wonder if this is the kind of set up we’re going to see on the activesphere concept Audi teased late last month. Because while I still believe the world doesn’t really need an Audi truck, the idea of an electric vehicle with rally-proven race technology is an attractive one indeed. And given the growing popularity of off-roading? It seems like it could prove a massive hit.

Another factor to consider is what exactly the point of the whole Dakar exercise is, if not to provide technology that will trickle down to the consumer market. After all, Audi was very clear that changing engine requirements, which included more robust electrification efforts and a focus on sustainability, were a key factor in why it will be entering Formula 1 for the 2026 season. But what do you think? Will the activesphere concept be a “road-going” version of the RS Q e-tron? Hit me up and let me know! 

Photos: Audi

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Veteran Driver René Rast to Leave Audi Sport

Rene Rast Leaving Audi Sport

Active with Audi since 2011, ace shoe Rast says he “still has a few goals in motorsport that I want to achieve.”

Audi Sport driver René Rast has announced his intentions to leave the team at the end of the 2022 DTM season. That means his final appearances for the Four Rings will be October 8th and 9th for the finale at Hockenheim. Rast has been with Audi Sport since 2011, and has been a fantastic performer for the squad, notably winning three DTM championship titles in four years. Here’s what he had to say about the move:

“This decision was anything but easy for me,” says René Rast. “Audi has been my life over the past few years. We’ve worked fantastically together and celebrated many great successes. I’ll never forget these moments, nor the many great people who made my victories and championship titles possible.”  

Along with his three DTM championships, those great successes include winning the title during his rookie season, a 2014 ADAC GT Masters championship, and multiple victories at 24-hour endurance events like the Nürburgring (2014), Daytona (2014, 2016), and Spa (2012). In 2015, he also drove a Audi R18 e-tron quattro to a top ten finish at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. In response, Oliver Hoffmann, Board Member for Technical Development at Audi, said “René Rast will always remain a friend”

Of course, while Rast and Audi Sport had plenty of good years, the German driver was often victim of bad timing during his tenure, as he touched upon in his statement:

The Class 1 era in the DTM was the absolute highlight for me. The Audi RS 5 DTM, with its four-cylinder turbo engine, was a fantastic race car. Unfortunately, this era came to an end far too quickly. In both the Le Mans prototypes and Formula E, I also had the misfortune of having just joined the team when the programs ended. That was a real shame. I’m enjoying the DTM with GT3 race cars much more than I could ever have imagined. But I still have a few goals in motorsport that I want to achieve.

At this point, the smart money says that Rast will head back to Formula E, where he campaigned for Audi between 2019 and 2021 seasons, to drive for the new McLaren team. Until then, however, he’ll be focused on trying to win another DTM championship, for which he’s very much still in the running. Watch the video below to hear Rast describe some of his accomplishments in his own words, and keep your fingers crossed for him going into the last eight races!

Photos: Audi

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Audi and Team WRT Are Ending Their 13-Year Partnership After 13 Years

Team WRT Audi R8 GT3

After enjoying tremendous success together, Team WRT and Audi are moving on to other ventures.

Audi and Team WRT have enjoyed a prosperous 13-year relationship, racking up victories at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, the Bathurst 12 Hour, and the GT World Cup in Macau, along with a grand total of 30 titles in the GTWCE and its predecessors. However, that long-standing relationship is now set to come to an end following the current season, as the two entities have announced that they are ending their decade-plus partnership.

“It is a very special and emotional moment for all of us at Team WRT and me personally, as we announce that a significant chapter in the history of our organization will soon come to an end and a new one will open,” said team principal Vincent Vosse. “It couldn’t be otherwise, because Audi has been the brand we have been associated with since the creation of Team WRT at the end of 2009 and our sole partner in GT3 racing. All things in life have a beginning and an end, and our paths will now separate but the longstanding friendships will last. We all can have a sense of pride looking at what was accomplished together and we’ll all treasure the many good memories of this great period.”

Team WRT Audi R8 GT3

It’s a somber end to a fairly tale sort of story, which has seen Team WRT and Audi team up to achieve tremendous success. The decision comes following Audi’s cancellation of its LMDh program, which WRT was set to run in the WEC next year. WRT reportedly already had a deal in place to participate in that series before this decision was made, but it didn’t take long for it to move on. In fact, BMW has already announced that WRT will operate its factory LMDh team in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Regardless, Audi and WRT’s split is a bit bittersweet for all involved.

Team WRT Audi R8 GT3

“After 13 fantastic years, we will be going our separate ways from 2023 but we will continue to have friendly ties,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “The close relationship with Vincent Vosse as well as with Yves and Pascal Weerts is characterized by deep trust, shared sporting values, and an absolute drive for success. A big thank you to them and their entire team, combined with best wishes for the future.”

Photos: Team WRT

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Audi R18 e-tron quattro Up for Grabs

Audi R18 e-tron quattro

This 2015 R18 e-tron quattro represents the bleeding edge of Audi’s endurance racing tech at the time.

While corporate cousin Porsche remains the manufacturer with the most victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, no marque has dominated the modern era like Audi. In addition to Audi Sport’s three consecutive victories in 2000, 2001, and 2002, it proved nearly unstoppable between 2004 and 2014. Only a loss to home team Peugeot in 2009 kept the Four Rings squad from cementing a decade of dominance. Now, one well-heeled buyer has an opportunity to own a piece of motorsport history, in the form of a 2015 Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

To be clear, the example currently listed by specialist dealer Joe Macari didn’t campaign at the legendary French endurance race. But it did see action at the 2015 runnings of the 6 Hours of Fuji, the 6 Hours of Shanghai, and the 6 Hours of Bahrain. Over the course of its career, it never achieved a podium finish, but with fourth place finishes at Shanghai and Bahrain, it came tantalizingly close.  As the livery attests, it was also driven by current Formula E driver Lucas di Grassi, 24 Hours of Daytona winner Oliver Jarvis, and Loïc Duval, who brought another R18 across the line to win Le Mans in 2013.

This vehicle is chassis number 416, and the price — as you can probably imagine — is available only upon request. The rear wheels are powered by a 550-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 TDI, and the front wheels are driven by a 268-horsepower all electric motor.  According to the listing, the R18 benefited from improved fuel efficiency, a more robust cooling system, and aerodynamic improvements over it’s predecessor, the R15. Obviously, that’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the go-fast bits this weapons grade endurance racer is packing, as it represents the bleeding edge of Audi’s racing technology at the time.

Now, as cool as this machine is, what’s even more exciting is the fact that Audi is coming back to Le Mans. Almost exactly a year ago, Audi announced it had decided on a chassis partner and an engine concept. And if the timeline Audi Sport director Andreas Roos mentioned at that time is accurate, the testing is already well underway. Hopefully we’ll get more info on the new racer soon, but between this car and the just-announced Formula 1 program, the next few years are going to be exciting for Audi race fans!

Photos: Joe Macari

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It’s Official: Audi is Coming to Formula 1

Audi Formula 1

Right now, fans of the Four Rings still have more questions than answers — but Audi is headed to Formula 1.

Late last year, AudiWorld posted that Ingolstadt was poised to announce a Formula 1 program. Well, in the months since, things have been relatively quiet on the F1 front. But today, Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess made it official, telling Reuters that both Porsche and Audi are headed to the pinnacle of motorsport. Here’s some relevant bits from our friends at the international news agency:

Discussions by the board of directors about the two brands’ plans had created some divisions, said Diess at an event in Wolfsburg, where the German carmaker is headquartered.

Diess said on Monday that Porsche’s preparations for entering Formula One were a little more concrete than Audi’s.

Audi is ready to offer around 500 million euros ($556.3 million) for British luxury sports carmaker McLaren as a means to enter, a source told Reuters in March, while Porsche intends to establish a long-term partnership with racing team Red Bull starting in several years’ time.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the meeting where the “divisions” between the two brands were aired! That had to be one hell of a discussion, because the decision means that not only will Audi and Porsche be going up against the rest of the grid — they’ll be competing against each other in a multi-million dollar game of family feud. Why on earth that idea wasn’t nipped in the bud is anyone’s guess, but it does speak to fantastic visibility that running in the series provides.

At this point, we still have more questions than answers about what each of the Volkswagen Group’s teams will look like. And while there are sure to be more details trickling out in the coming months, forthcoming engine regulations mean we won’t see an Audi or Porsche-branded car on the grid until the 2026 season. Until then, fans will have to make due with watching what’s already been one of the most exciting seasons in ages.

Because after years of domination, Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team have fallen off the pace. The seven-time world champion has struggled mightily this year, and is currently seventh in the points standings. In a shocking development, his teammate George Russel has be consistently upstaging the champion, and currently sits forth in the standings, behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc,  Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and McLaren’s Lando Norris. The next race is set for this Sunday in Miami — on a new street course that’s sure to create drama. Stay tuned for more news on Audi’s entry into Formula 1!

Photos: Audi

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