Audi Sport quattro S1 Pikes Peak (1987)

Published on: Jan 18, 2016 @ 16:32
Originally Published in: 2015 (old website)
(C) Jay Auger - website owner & author
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It is no secret that Audi revolutionised rallying with the quattro and it was not long after that its potential was evident for the legendary Pikes Peak “Race to the Clouds” Int’l Hill Climb event. At the time, the track was mostly on gravel, which made Audi’s four wheel drive system a natural asset. In fact, the quattro would become a winner six years in a row; 1982~1987 – three “Open Rally” class wins plus three overall wins and course records (click HERE for details).



Before we get to Röhrl’s very special machine, let’s revisit the events leading to it: In 1986, Audi had abandoned their Group B WRC program early in the season due to the spectator deaths in Portugal and other safety concerns. However, some insiders stated that the truth was that Audi was under pressure from VW to terminate its rally operations since they weren’t competitive any more. In any case, Group B itself was eventually banned at the end of the same year which would have netted the same result.

Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 (Group B)

Many people felt like the short lived Sport quattro S1 E2 didn’t achieve nor had proven its full potential, especially versus Audi’s arch rival Peugeot and their 205 T16. As such, Audi Sport prepared a very special version of their car specifically for the 1987 Pikes Peak race. One last rally car to prove that it can once again reign supreme. It was to be the ultimate iteration of the quattro. You could even say how the Group B quattro might have evolved into if given the chance.

S1 E2 (left) / Pikes Peak (right)

For the 1987 Pikes Peak special edition, although the quattro’s official designation remained the same as the rally model, it was much different under its skin than its predecessor of the same name. The car featured a brand new spaceframe (tubular) construction instead of a full monocoque chassis as found on all the previous versions. The chassis did however incorporate some of the existing structure of the S1 E2, which was taken directly from the car that Audi had loaned to Bobby Unser’s for his winning run of 1986. This procedure allowed to substantially lower the weight of the previous car and much improve the bias (50/50) by relocating various key components.

While the Peugeot engineers tried desperately to stretch the 205 Turbo 16’s wheelbase in hopes to gain more stability, which is usually more suitable to high speed courses such as Pikes Peak, Audi instead retained the same short wheelbase as the S1 rally model. However, the suspension itself was redesigned to a double wishbone setup to even up the quattro’s handling. Stability itself was achieved by major aerodynamic improvements such as adding “double stack” rear spoilers and a very iconic front spoiler.

For power, the car sported the same five cylinder turbocharged engine found in the Group B rally model albeit thoroughly revised. Audi Sport stated that it had “officially” around 600 BHP, which would put it at about the same tune used in the fast-paced 1985 Finland rally, but insiders claimed that the Pikes Peak version realistically had closer to 1,000 BHP.

All of this speculating was put to rest when Walter Röhrl later stated in an interview that the car actually had 750 BHP and that the throttle was like an “on/off switch”, partly thanks to the more aggressive “boost into exhaust” recirculating anti-lag system (ALS). The engine was also accompanied by the top of the line dual-clutch, power-shifted, “PDK” 6-speed transmission that had already been adapted for the Group B works car.

“Pikes Peak” engine

This one of a kind quattro gave Röhrl the opportunity to set his record breaking run of 10:47.850 and be the first ever competitor to reach the peak under 11 minutes. He also defeated a fleet of three specially prepared 205 T16s that Peugeot had entered in hopes to stop Audi’s reign at the event. In the end, Audi had won its gamble and immediately retired the rally quattro from competition, but this time as a legendary champion. Audi’s motorsport aspirations thereafter shifted to circuit racing.

Multiple replicas of the car have since been built, albeit most are based on normal chassis quattros, which can nonetheless be seen in such events as the Eifel Rallye Festival in Germany.

It is worth mentioning that the “quattro” is correctly spelled with a small “q” which also can be used to specify the Audi four/all wheel drive system. For more information about the correct spelling, CLICK HERE!


Group/Class Unlimited Pikes Peak Special Version
Years active 1987  # built: 1
Type I-5, DOHC 20v, gas engine located front longitudinal with 27.5oright inclination
Displacement 2110 cc
Compression ratio 7.5:1
Output power – torque
  • 598 HP @ 8000 rpm (claimed)
  • 750 HP @ – rpm (Röhrl statement)
  •  435 lb-ft @ 5500 rpm (claimed)
Materials block: aluminium cylinder head: aluminium
  • KKK K28 turbocharger
  • Bosch LH-jetronic multipoint electronic fuel injection
  • Recirculating “boost into exhaust” anti-lag system
Ignition electronic / firing order 1-2-4-5-3
Cooling system water-cooled
Lubrication system dry sump with 1 oil cooler
Type four wheel drive Dual clutch « power shift » 6 speed transmission
Gearbox ratios 1st: 3.179
2nd: 2.155
3rd: 1.580
4th: 1.214
5th: 0.977
6th: 0.825
F: 4.059
Differential ratio N/A Front, center, and rear self locking
Clutch dry – double plate
Type Tubular space-frame construction. 2 door coupe steel/kevlar bodyshell with plastic front/rear bonnets and bumper covers. NACA style roof cooling duct. Aerodynamic “double stack” spoilers to the front and rear of the car to increase downforce. Side deflectors. Single seater.
Front suspension Double wishbone
Rear suspension Double wishbone
Steering system rack and pinion with hydraulic power assistance 12.4:1
Brakes front/rear 4 aluminium piston calipers, front ventilated rotors 330mm diameter, rear ventilated rotors 304mm diameter dual circuit with servo
length: 4250 mm (167.3 in) width: 1860 mm (73.2 in) heigth : 1344 mm (52.9 in)
wheelbase: 2224 mm (87.6 in) front track : 1465 mm (57.7 in) rear track: 1502 mm (59.1 in)
Rims – tires front and rear

  • 16  inch
Dry/Unladen Weight 1000 kg (2205 lb)  Bias Front/Rear%: 50/50 (claimed)
Weight/power 1.7 kg/HP (3.7 lb/HP)
Fuel tank N/A




(C) Article by Jay Auger – website owner & author

  • Images & videos are the property of their original owners
  • Eifel Rallye Festival pictures used under permission – McKlein Publishing