until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Audi signs Sainz, Peterhansel for 2022 Dakar debut

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Audi will field the Dakar Rally’s two latest winners, Carlos Sainz and Stephane Peterhansel, along with its two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom when it makes its debut in the renowned marathon in 2020.

Sainz celebrated his fourth Dakar win with the X-Raid Mini Buggy in the 2020 edition, before Peterhansel picked up a record 14th win earlier this year with the same team.

And they will team up once more in 2022 but in Audi colours, as the Ingolstadt marque goes all-in for the first Dakar appearance of its new hybrid challenger.

“It’s no exaggeration to speak of a ‘dream team’,” said Julius Seebach, who recently replaced Dieter Gass as Audi’s head of motorsport.

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“Stéphane is the most successful Dakar driver of all time. Carlos is a multiple Dakar winner and World Rally champion.

“With Mattias, we already celebrated many Audi successes in the past. He is one of the world’s most versatile drivers.

“In addition to a lot of speed, they are all adding an extreme amount of expertise and motivation to our team. The same goes for their co-drivers, who play an increasingly important role in the Dakar Rally.”

A Dakar challenge is one of Audi’s two main motorsport programmes for the future alongside a return to Le Mans, with its Formula E programme coming to an end at the conclusion of the current campaign.

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Audi’s Dakar project – which also involves Sven Quandt, the head of Q Motorsport and someone best-known for running none other than X-raid Mini – will square off against Dakar mainstay Toyota and the Prodrive team that fielded Sebastian Loeb and Nani Roma last year.

X-Raid will of course be present, too, but so far only has one driver confirmed for its Mini Buggy – former quad-class runner-up Sebastian Halpern of Argentina.

In addition to winning with the Mini Buggy, both Sainz and Peterhansel won as team-mates at Peugeot – but neither the Peugeot project nor the two-wheel-drive Mini were immediately competitive for the win in their first years.

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They have both retained their co-drivers from 2021, with Sainz again joined by Lucas Cruz and Peterhansel sticking with Edouard Boulanger.

Ekstrom, a World Rallycross champion and two-time DTM champion who is competing in Extreme E this year, made his Dakar debut in 2021 in a Yamaha buggy.

He will have Emil Bergkvist, an ERC Junior and Junior WRC champion, as co-driver.

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