Audi looks for overall victory in 2023 Dakar

For the fourth year, Saudi Arabia hosts the gruelling Dakar Rally... which has been nowhere near the Senegal capital since 2007

Audi RS Q in Desert

Audi’s RS Q e-tron E2 (E2: second evolution) has updated aerodynamics and is lighter than its predecessor

Audi AG

Audi made history at Dakar last year by being the first entrant to win a stage with a hybrid power unit.

The German manufacturer is looking to take overall victory this time with what its driver Mattias Ekström calls “a Formula 1 car for the desert”.

With slimmed-down bodywork, Audi has completely re-sculpted its aerodynamics which they say should increase efficiency by 15%. Joining Ekström in driving the RS Q e-tron E2 will be an unchanged star-studded line-up from last year of Carlos Sainz and Stéphane Peterhansel. Although they have 17 Dakar victories between them, what lies ahead is a different kind of rally with more stages than there’s ever been since Saudi Arabia first started hosting the event.

Drivers will begin in the beaches of the Red Sea and travel cross-country via 14 stages to the sands of the Arabian Gulf in Dammam.

Along the way, drivers will head through the ‘Empty Quarter’ – the desert interior which is one of the most inhospitable regions on earth, where temperatures reach 50°C.

Three days will be spent here amid a gruelling two weeks that will push drivers to their absolute limit.

This will be the 45th edition of the Dakar, the fourth in Saudi Arabia, and as ever it will kick-start the motor sporting year.

However, Audi won’t be the only team boasting Dakar royalty as Toyota Gazoo Racing arrive as the defending champions with four-time winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, while Sébastien Loeb will also be present for BRX.

The bike category has its own major news story heading into the rally. All riders will be handed digital roadbooks, rather than paper, to bring it in line with other categories.

Sam Sunderland arrives as the bike defending champion, but Gerard Farrés will compete for the 15th consecutive year as he chases victory in the SSV category.

Dakar Winner Sam Sunderland

This will be the 10th Dakar for British bike rider Sam Sunderland – the winner in 2017 and ’22


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