motors shoehorned into 300ZXs, was an
earthbound rocket. Once Audi joined the
party, three factories, each with two
full-time entries, went tubeframe against
tubeframe and turbo against turbo,
starting at the Daytona 24 hours. Almost.
Given Audi’s near ownership of the 24
Hours of Le Mans – 13 overall wins since
2000 – it’s crazy to think it skipped IMSA’s
two biggest endurance races due to a lack
of experience, but that’s precisely what
happened. Audi was capable of building
cars that could scythe through a sprint
event, but at that time endurance racing
was too tall of an order for Ingolstadt.
Audi watched as Pete Halsmer led his
Cougar crew to a class win at the Daytona
opener, then backed it up at Round 2 in
Miami, scene of the 90 Quattros’ series
debut. Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim
Stuck failed to finish although, in typical
Audi fashion, its drivers already knew the
opposition was in deep trouble.
“At the first test with the GTO car, I
MAKING WINNING A HABIT
immediately thought this is something that
is going to be absolutely unbeatable,” says
Stuck. “And I was right. We didn’t always
have the reliability required, and the Roush
team was formidable, but we knew once
again we had a car that was very special.”
With wide gumball tires from Goodyear
and advanced suspension technology, the
Cougars and 300ZXs weren’t always easy
Seven wins from 13 IMSA GTO starts in 1989 came hot on
the heels of 8 from 13 in its one and only Trans-Am season.
After running its Trans-Am campaign via Group 44, Audi
Sport took the IMSA GTO Audi 90s fully in-house in 1989.
At 2.2 liters, the GTO
Audi 90’s inline- 5 gained
just 0.1 liters over the
Trans-Am version, but
developed around 200hp
more, thanks to a 4-valve
layout and a super-sized
Could Audi have finished
the Daytona or Sebring
enduros? It’s debatable.
But the two non-starts do
leave the 90 Quattro with
an outstanding hit rate.
THE FIFTH DIMENSION
FROM THE MOTHERSHIP
*All by Hans-Joachim Stuck.
One shared with Walter Röhrl
prey for Audi’s AWD system. Although an
advantage definitely existed, it wasn’t to
the cartoonish levels seen in Trans-Am.
But with a sharp increase in power for
‘ 89, constant tuning of the mechanical
Quattro system began to open up the
performance gap that Audi was seeking.
“We could change the ratio between
the rear and front axle in terms of
percentage from 30-70 up to 50-50 by
changing the center differential,” Stuck
continues. “It gave us a whole variety of
fighting against understeer and oversteer,
and it was so much fun to develop this
car. There was no limit to what it could do,
so we kept looking for more…”
Like the 200, the 90 Quattro allowed
Stuck, Haywood, Scott Goodyear (who
shared with Haywood in a couple of longer
races between open-wheel obligations) and
two-time WRC champ Walter Röhrl (ditto,
with Stuck) to use every inch of the racing
surface. Dirt and rubber marbles that
bound other GTO cars to a conventional
racing line was an afterthought, according
to Stuck, and with IMSA’s multi-class racing,
having cornering options was invaluable
around slower GTO and GTU cars.
“We could also do this in ’ 88, but with
so much extra power and speed in the
Audi 90, the all-wheel drive really helped
a lot passing slower cars,” says Stuck. “I
recall we had the widest ever front tire on
IMSA GTO AUDI 90 QUATTRO