Audi has announced that it will partner with Q Motorsport, headed by current X-raid team boss Sven Quandt, ahead of its Dakar Rally debut in 2022.
The German marque announced it will focus its factory efforts on the rally raid classic after a major reshuffle of its motorsport activities, which resulted in a withdrawal from its main Formula E program at the end of next season.
Based in Trebur in Germany, Q Motorsport was founded this year by Quandt and his two sons Thomas and Tobias and will become the Audi factory team for the Dakar project.
Quandt said: “With Q Motorsport, we want to break new ground in cross-country motorsport independently of and parallel to X-raid.
“The world is changing, and the Dakar must also prove that it can be sustainable and continue to point the way forward. This is exactly what Q Motorsport wants to demonstrate together with Audi.”
Newly appointed Audi head of motorsport Julius Seebach added that in selecting Quandt to lead the brand’s new off-road project, it was bringing in tried-and-tested expertise from the Dakar field.
“By cooperating with Q Motorsport, we are sticking to our philosophy that has proven itself at Audi over many years,” Seebach said.
“The development of the Dakar prototype with its innovative drivetrain concept is being carried out in-house. We are contesting the race together with an experienced partner. The Q Motorsport team contributes an enormous amount of specific experience from cross-country motorsport.”
Quandt’s X-raid team, which he set up in 2002 while simultaneously the head of motorsport for Mitsubishi, currently runs the Mini John Cooper Works Dakar effort, winning the 2020 event with Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz.
The German’s experience also goes back much further than just his team management. A competent driver as well as co-driver, Quandt won the T1 Marathon Cup in a Mitsubishi Pajero in 1998, the same year that the GECO Raid team with whom he drove for in the Marathon Cup locked out the top three in the Paris-Dakar.
No indication has been given as to whether Mini, which is owned by Audi’s big rival BMW, will continue in the Dakar under the X-raid umbrella.
The team will field six Minis at next month’s Dakar Rally. Sainz and Cruz will be joined by Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger in a pair of Mini JCW buggies.
There are four Mini JCW Rallys for Orlando Terranova and Ronnie Graue, Vladimir Vasilyev and Dmitry Tsyro, and Victor Khoroshavsev and Anton Nikolaev.
Guiga Spinelli and Yousseff Haddad will compete in a Mini ALL4 Racing.