Audi Faces Hefty Fine for Exiting Dakar Rally Championship

    In a surprising turn of events, German manufacturer Audi has found itself entangled in a financial predicament after announcing the abrupt shutdown of its cross-country rally program. Audi, which had been due to compete in its third and final season in the FIA-sanctioned World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), made the decision to pull the plug on the project just a month after scoring a maiden win in the prestigious Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.

    The decision, however, has not come without consequences. The stewards at the recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge have imposed a hefty fine of €750,000 on Audi for missing the second round of the season, as per article 3.4.3 of the FIA Cross-Country Rally Sporting Regulations. It was noted that Audi had registered as a manufacturer for the 2024 W2RC season and its withdrawal was deemed to be “harming the image” of the championship.

    Audi, in its defense, has stated that it is appealing the decision and will not provide any further comments on the ongoing procedure. The German marque had previously cited a lack of spare parts and high consumption during the latest Dakar outing as the primary reasons for bringing its rally-raid program to a premature end.

    With Audi’s factory involvement in motorsport set to resume only in 2026 when it joins the Formula 1 grid as part of its takeover of Sauber, the news of this hefty fine is a setback for the brand’s cross-country racing aspirations. The decision not to participate in the remaining four events of the 2023 W2RC calendar means that Audi will have to pay the entire €750,000 fine to the FIA.

    This development serves as a cautionary tale for manufacturers in the rapidly evolving world of cross-country rallying, where commitments and schedules must be carefully managed to avoid such financial penalties. As the Dakar Rally and the W2RC continue to grow in stature, the stakes have never been higher for the manufacturers vying for glory in this challenging and prestigious motorsport discipline.

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