Having started the revolution, Audi’s
attempt to stay ahead in this new world
was not nearly so convincing. Its answer
to the need for more speed and agility
was the Sport Quattro S1. Sadly, it was
introduced on the same event – 1984
Tour de Corse – as the Peugeot 205 T16.
The world remembers that rally for the
debut of only one great Group B car…
Power for the Sport came from a new
twin-cam, 20-valve, inline- 5, which pumped
the Audi towards 500hp. Its wheelbase
was shorter than the original by 320mm
( 12.6in), and it was 57mm (2.2in) wider,
but it remained 50kg (110lb) heavier.
Any improved agility came at the
expense of driveability. While the original
car was fairly predictable, the Sport was
anything but. At times, especially on
asphalt, it was a rodeo bull. So capricious
was the Sport, Stig Blomqvist stuck with
the A2 until his ’ 84 title was in the bag.
Beyond chronic overheating, the other
major issue remained the weight over
the front wheels, which regularly killed
the car’s front tires and ensured it never
won a European WRC round. Predictably,
Hannu Mikkola doesn’t remember the
Sport with a particular fondness.
“When I drove for the first time, I said,
‘Who tested this car? Did anybody test
it?’ It was very terrible,” he grimaces.
“When you accelerated, the back sat
down and you got understeer; when
you braked, the front sat down and you
got oversteer. This car was not nice.”
Band-aids were applied with the most
dramatic Quattro of them all – the E2. A
Torsen center diff helped handling, and
shifting the cooling package to the rear
tickled the weight distribution. But five
cylinders out front remained its inherent
fault. Walter Rohrl’s sole 1985 win for an
E2, on the Sanremo Rally (BELOW), was
testament as much to his ability and
dogged determination as it was to the
Audi’s savage, yet wayward power.
LEFT BEHIND IN THE RUSH
AUDI SPORT QUATTRO S1
known as the Rally of 10,000 corners and,
at every turn, Mikkola and Mouton would
have to wait patiently for the Quattro to
come to the boil, delivering all 340hp in a
whoosh of boost – usually with the next
corner already fast approaching.
A shocking appetite for tires was only
quelled by sixth-stage piston failure for
Mikkola and a broken camshaft for
Mouton. Corsica was as bad as feared...
Asphalt was always going to favor the
featherweight, rear-drive racers, but
Audi’s dominance was beginning to show
on the dirt. A ham-fisted effort to improve
cooling in Greece brought exclusion for
running a vent instead of a headlamp, but
Mikkola took 29 fastest times in Finland,
The 1981 Acropolis Rally
in Greece saw Mikkola
(ABOVE) and Mouton
dominating the early
stages. But as a change
from the usual technical
woes, it was illegal cooling
vents discovered in the
headlights that put them
out after the second leg.
(LEFT) “I’d like one of
these...” Walter Rohrl
got his wish for ’ 84, but
would have to endure the
Quattro Sport S1 for
much of his Audi career.
“Reliability and pace on certain
events allowed some to be fooled
into thinking two-wheel drive still
had its place at the table. It didn’t”
and would have won but for an engine fault.
Another failure blighted his efforts on
Italy’s Sanremo Rally. Mouton, however, was
outstanding and took her first WRC win.
The Quattro’s first season ended on a
high on Britain’s grueling RAC Rally, Mikkola
rolling in Grizedale Forest, but tearing back
through the field to win by 11 minutes.
Audi’s drivers weren’t championship
contenders in year one (Vatanen took it),
but a manufacturers’ title came 12 months
later – and only the brilliance of Walter
Rohrl, plus suspension and gearbox niggles,
kept Mouton and Mikkola from a world title.
The following year, as Group 4 morphed
into Group B, the Quattro evolved with the
A1 and A2 – which were quicker, lighter
and more reliable. Four victories delivered
Hannu a drivers’ championship.
Without question, the Quattro changed
rallying. But, breaking so much new ground,
teething troubles plagued its first two years
– and gave rivals like Peugeot an insight into
the rights and wrongs of turbocharged,
total traction. In that time, reliability and
pace on certain events allowed some to be
fooled into thinking two-wheel drive still
had its place at the table. It didn’t.
To stand at the side of the road was to
witness the scale of change. Spectators
stared as though they’d seen a spaceship.
They hadn’t. Just a glimpse into the future.
Quattro personified progress through
technology. Or, as Audi liked to say in its
ads: vorsprung durch technik.