Mattias Ekström led Audi’s Dakar marketing campaign as Sainz crashed | Jobi Cool

It’s now left to Mattias Ekström to ship Audi a end within the 2023 Dakar Rally. He was the final RS Q e-tron standing after the brutal desert sands made themselves recognized to World Rally legend Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard turned a crop within the sand and was pressured to retire because the second week of punishing off-road enduro started in Saudi Arabia.

After a relaxation day on Monday, the in depth off-road journey continued with Stage 9 – a 358km course that moved your complete operation from the capital metropolis of Riyadh to the newest bivouac in Haradh. Driving companions’ route steering advised of rocky tracks and dry rivers that lined the opening stint till the eleventh day earlier than the route, stuffed with difficult-to-navigate modifications in route, opened for in quicker sections the subsequent day.

Sadly, three-time Dakar winner Sainz might solely uncover the primary six kilometers. The third challenger to hit the course, a stage win is on the playing cards. Nevertheless, after taking off over the blind crest, the entrance axle of his electrified RS Q e-tron got here crashing down on the touchdown to flip him over. The race automobile got here to relaxation on its roof.

Sainz was initially taken to the hospital, however, midway by the flight, he advised the chopper to return to the automobile and his compatriot Lucas Cruz to carry the automobile house. The RS Q e-tron was finally returned to the in a single day camp the place it was totally inspected by engineers. Whereas they have been glad that the protection buildings had carried out to their temporary, it was determined that the harm was too extreme for the duo to proceed for the remaining 5 episodes.

“It is a widespread accident within the dunes,” Sainz defined. “It is a actually large gap. If I am in all probability two meters to the left or 3km/h slower, it is sufficient to cross. It’s with nice remorse that we have now to depart the Dakar, however the necessary factor is that nothing severe occurred.”

Audi Motorsport head Rolf Michl added: “It was one other heavy influence. I met the 2 drivers. They’re match… all the things is protected. The principle factor is that every one the protection ideas labored nice. We’re sorry, even a staff as tireless as ours could not restore harm of this dimension to the location in time.”

With 14-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel withdrawing final week, it was as much as Ekström and co-driver Emil Bergkvist to finish the rally for Staff Audi Sport. The double DTM champ had a greater day. He was fourth quickest on the stage, finishing the gap in over three hours.

Impressively, Ekström would have been nearer to the day’s pacesetter Sébastien Loeb (who completed 5 minutes down the street) had it not been for chopping a rock to puncture and drive a tire change. Plus, the Swede’s issues earlier within the occasion meant beginning decrease down the order so he additionally needed to handle overtaking slower vehicles.

“We drove our rhythm; it felt first rate,” was the decision from Ekström, who climbed 12 locations within the general order on Tuesday alone. “On the finish, I made a mistake on my own and acquired hit by a rock and acquired a puncture. However, in the long run, to complete P4 is sweet after the previous few levels which have been very tough.”

Within the context of the Dakar, a shorter Stage 10 is in retailer because the aggressive factor stretches solely 114km earlier than the sector strikes by the well-known Empty Quarter.

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*This car proven right here is the Rally Dakar car that isn’t accessible as a manufacturing mannequin. Closed course, skilled driver. Do not attempt. The Audi RS Q e-tron combines an electrical drivetrain with an vitality converter system consisting of a TFSI engine and generator.

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