Even sandy movement illness could not cease Audi’s tremendous Swede from climbing the general rankings desk
The 2023 Dakar Rally actually did not hesitate to throw curveballs on the Workforce Audi Sport crew. However Mattias Ekström was unfazed because the second week of the occasion ended as he scored one other stage podium regardless of fully unfamiliar terrain.
The Swede is a two-time DTM champion and took the World Rallycross crown in 2016, so isn’t any stranger to asphalt and a little bit of gravel. However earlier than he visited the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia this week, he wasn’t used to crossing giant sand dunes. However that did not present in any respect.
Ekström and co-driver Emil Bergkvist set the second quickest time on day 14 after they accomplished the second Marathon Stage – which meant tenting in a single day and having to service the electrified RS Q e-tron itself whereas the Audi engineering crew needed to sit tight within the Shaybah bivouac all through Thursday and Friday.
The 185km aggressive ingredient in Stage 12 is dominated by sand dunes, which pose an actual problem in relation to navigation. Consistent with the rally-raid format, Bergkvist was solely given a route information quarter-hour earlier than the duo set off. With so little time to study the best way, the fixed ups and downs of the panorama imply it is easy to lose your bearings looking for every checkpoint. It additionally ensures that movement illness poses an actual menace in scorching situations.
Simply think about the scene. You’re in the course of an uninhabited, scorching desert. Naturally, you’re surrounded by sand and go by way of a dry lakebed. So, which ailment poses the best danger to your day? Nicely, sea illness, in fact.
However the occupants of the #211 automobile had been unfazed, as they accomplished the stage in simply over two hours to complete simply three minutes behind pacesetter Sébastien Loeb. It accomplished a hat-trick of consecutive stage podiums and helped the pair transfer as much as 18th within the total standings with two days remaining within the Dakar Rally.
“That is positively an excellent consequence,” Ekström stated. “However once I completed the primary stage, I informed Emil I really feel so dangerous. First, bodily, you are feeling totally different going up and down. You lose your reference factors, and you do not really feel good. However in consequence, I had no concept what to anticipate. We had been presupposed to be P10 however once we noticed it we had been P3 [on Thursday] after which P2 [today]we had been pleased.”
The spectacular consequence got here regardless of Ekström not setting sail in a bid to finish the well-known off-road enduro with out additional incident. He added: “If we might take extra dangers, possibly we might go sooner however you by no means know if you’ll end! On this area, I need to admit that I’m a real novice. I’ve by no means been to this a part of the world earlier than and pushed on these sorts of sand.”
For Stage 13, opponents will say goodbye to the Empty Quarter and the dunes as they battle the 154km leg from Shaybah to the penultimate bivouac at Al-Hofuf.
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*This car proven right here is the Rally Dakar car that isn’t out there as a manufacturing mannequin. Closed course, skilled driver. Do not attempt. The Audi RS Q e-tron combines an electrical drivetrain with an power converter system consisting of a TFSI engine and generator.