“It is the most difficult challenge of my life”

6 days ago 8

11/23/2021 at 10:40 CET

Carlos SainzFive weeks before the start of the 2022 Dakar Rally, he is finishing at the Audi headquarters in Germany his debut at the controls of the RS Q e-tron. Subtract the remaining days with impatience, eager to face a race that this time is full of unknowns when driving an electric car, probably the most complex he has driven in his long career.

About a month ago, he surprised everyone in Madrid by pointing out that the goal was a victory that he saw within reach. Stefan Dreyer and Sven Qvandt, team leaders, lowered expectations and indicated that “the first victory is to finish & rdquor ;. The car has had a development of five months and will debut in competition directly in Saudi Arabia, Although before they will still participate in an exhibition in Madrid and will do another test shortly before departure.

Carlos, do you still think that you have a chance to win? At the car’s presentation in Madrid, he had been surprisingly optimistic about it.

You have to be optimistic before the Dakar and face it with the attitude and desire to do your best. You always think that you can win, since otherwise it is very difficult to seek motivation from day to day and find a reason for your effort. I knew it was a complicated project, a difficult challenge, that with the little time we had to test the car it would be difficult. On the other hand, technologically starting the whole project is even more complex than I could have guessed and this, without a doubt, gives it even more value to be able to be at the start of the Dakar. The whole team has worked very hard for it. Optimistic? I remain moderately optimistic knowing that the first year of a car is difficult, whatever it is and if it is a complex car it is doubly complicated. It is the most difficult challenge of my career.

How prepared are they for this first Dakar?

The last tests in Morocco went well, removing a small problem that has delayed us, but nothing that cannot be solved between now and the Dakar. Honestly, I think we arrived well prepared after the last two days of testing that we did without problems, even in one day we did more than 400 kilometers without stopping.

Can you blame the fact that you didn’t run a race before?

It is always important, especially psychologically, to get to the first stage with more experience, since we will arrive at the start without having ever competed. It happened to me before and other cars, but this also adds a certain incentive. The tests are tests, but whenever you put on the helmet you go out to squeeze the machine to the fullest. Perhaps the marathon stage, on the second day, comes a little too early, but in the end Bahrain will not have a race before and the new Toyota will not have many kilometers in competition either, although perhaps among all of them they are the most advanced.

The Toyota is still the same optimized car & mldr;

They are a continuation of the previous one, with an update of suspensions, width of the car, travel and with the big wheel, but they can also get problems if they have not done many kilometers due to the level of demand towards the power steering and transmissions. We, at the level of suspensions, gearbox and differentials, the car has not caused problems and our weak point is the complexity of the entire electrical part, with the batteries, the combustion engine & mldr; that everything is agreed to work and the alarms do not go off.

What happens when the alarm sensors go off?

If an alarm goes off, the car stops and tells you what to do. It is so technologically advanced that it is so. On a mechanical level we have to learn to remove a bearing and change a suspension tie rod or a steering arm. For the fattest, you already have to wait for the truck. New things are happening every day and little by little it is getting better.

What difference do you find with respect to driving the MINI and Peugeot?

I’d say it’s easier. First, you don’t have to select a gear; you always have power; there is no response time; the answer is immediate; You have very good engine torque, you can adjust the engine brake at your convenience to avoid using both the hydraulic brake … In the dunes the car is quite effective and in that sense you try to adapt it to your driving style in the most effective way .

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