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Already Wild Audi RS Q E-Tron E2 Rally Car Gets Wilder, Cuts Weight for Dakar

The Audi RS Q E-Tron rally car has just received a complete aerodynamic makeover in preparation for the 2023 Dakar Rally—one of the most grueling motorsport events around. To signify the car’s second evolution, it’s been given an “E2” suffix, but the changes go well beyond the name, which also incorporates references to Audi’s RS (racing sport) and Q (SUV lineup) names.

Audi has swapped the Audi RS Q E-Tron E2’s body panels for totally new ones in the service of weight optimization, better use of space, and increased aerodynamic efficiency for the tough races ahead. Specifically, the dimensions of the rally car have been changed inside and out. The narrow cockpit has been widened to make it easier for the driver and co-driver to operate, also increasing comfort as a side effect.

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Outside is a nearly clean-sheet change from the previous version of the prototype. “The Audi RS Q E-Tron E2 does not adopt a single body part from its predecessor,” said Axel Löffler, chief designer of the RS Q E-Tron in a statement. ” “We are now doing away with the underflow of the rear hood to the left and right of the B-pillars. In conjunction with modified lay-ups, ie optimized fabric layers of the composite materials, this solution reduces weight.”

If you compare the Audi RS Q E-Tron E2 to the previous version that we covered last year, one of the biggest changes you may notice is the area below the hood has changed completely. Audi likes it to the “shape of a boat’s hull.” In the profile images you can also see that Audi did away with the flying buttresses that covered the side-mounted spare tires and instead opened that area up, providing easier access to said spares.

Audi estimates that this new design reduced overall aerodynamic drag by 15 percent, which may seem like a small number generally speaking, but in terms of motorsports even the most incremental of improvements can be meaningful. Especially over long term events like the Dakar Rally that takes place over 16 days in 2023.

The Audi RS Q E-Tron E2 prototype rally car is just one of the recent experimental endeavors taken up by the automaker. In August, Audi revealed that it would officially join Formula 1 as an engine supplier with the intention of using F1 as a “laboratory” for future developments. We can only speculate that Audi’s hybrid foray into Dakar is motivated by similar intentions.

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