Audi quattro A1/A2 (Group 4 / B)

Published on: Jan 18, 2016 @ 15:53
Originally Published in: 2014 (old website)
(C) Jay Auger - website owner & author
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1982 Audi quattro Rally Car


In 1979, the FISA (FIA) legalised four-wheel drive in rallying and little did they know that this decision would forever change the face of the sport and of the automotive world itself. Soon after its introduction as a prototype in 1980, the Audi quattro dominated rally venues around the world by sporting a hefty inline five-cylinder turbocharged engine paired with a revolutionary four-wheel drive system. It soon became the benchmark and a rally legend was born. The Audi quattro is unanimously credited with making rear-wheel drive obsolete in the top echelons of the World Rally Championship (WRC).



In the late 1970’s, rallying was on the verge of a major shakeup, as the newly reformed FISA (Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile) invited the BPICA (Bureau Permanent International des Constructeurs d’Automobiles) to discuss major upcoming changes in sporting regulations. In 1979, one of these meetings included a surprise request by a then little known brand, Audi, to legalise four-wheel drive in rallying.

Audi Iltis

The members of the board didn’t make much of it as four-wheel drive was then largely regarded as too complex and heavy to offset its traction advantage in competitive motorsport. It was believed at first that Audi’s request came from their willingness of entering their Iltis, a four-wheel drive utility vehicle built mostly for the military, in the 1980 Paris-Dakar endurance rally. The company from Ingolstadt indeed did just that, which resulted in an incredible 1-2-4-9 finish. However, Audi had grander ambitions than just the Iltis winning rally raids; it also secretly wanted to win the World Rally Championship with a secret weapon in the making – the quattro.

Audi quattro at the 1980 Geneva Auto Salon

The quattro stunned the rallying world after its introduction as a prototype in October of 1980. However, even if the quattro had gotten major successes at slippery events, most rally teams then still preferred the classic rear-wheel drive (RWD) layout over four-wheel drive (4WD/AWD) as Audi was still struggling to get better reliability and handling performance out of their car.

1980 Audi quattro Rally Car Prototype

Audi’s quattro system did turn out to be predominantly slower than RWD in tarmac rallies especially under dry conditions. This was mostly due to the quattro’s poor weight distribution, having most of its bulk far over its nose, which resulted in major understeer issues. The car also initially suffered from poor reliability from its transmission, centre differential (which was often deleted as a quick fix but this exacerbated the poor handling), and engine overheating problems.

Group 4 Audi quattro
Mouton/Ponz Sanremo 1980

The quattro was officially homologated in Group 4 in 1981, which made Audi pursue a stronger attack on the World Rally Championship. The Audi Sport team was however plagued with getting to terms of running such a large operation, including much time lost servicing the complex quattro between stages. The car would yet clinch three convincing victories in Sweden (Mikkola), Sanremo (Mouton) and on the RAC (Mikkola), ultimately landing Audi in a respectable fifth place in the championship.

When Group B was introduced in 1982, as the transition rules allowed, the quattro was an automatic transplant from Group 4 and competed without change from the previous version. The more experienced Audi Sport team then set out to try and clinch both world titles outright. In heated battles with Opel, Audi were able to take seven victories; Sweden (Blomqvist), Portugal (Mouton), Acropolis (Mouton), Brasil (Mouton), 1000 Lakes (Mikkola), Sanremo (Blomqvist) and RAC (Mikkola) – to win the manufacturer’s honours despite only five of these events counted towards the manufacturer championship. Michèle Mouton would be edged out by Opel’s Walter Röhrl for the driver’s title, yet the closest any woman has ever gotten to the championship – losing by only 12 points.

1983 Audi quattro A1 (Mikkola).jpg
1983 Audi quattro A1 (Mikkola)

In January of 1983, taking advantage of the looser Group B rules, Audi re-homologated an updated version of the rally quattro: the “A1” (homologation # B-229). The “A” in the moniker refers to the use of a specially developed all-aluminium version of the five-cylinder engine, which helped drop 44 pounds off the heavy nose of the quattro. At a glance, the Group B version can be differentiated by its wider squared fender flares as opposed to the rounded fender flares of the Group 4 version.

The new Group B rules however mandated a multiplication factor of 1.4 for forced induction engines to calculate the maximum allowed tire width and minimum weight of the car. The 2145 cc turbo engine (x1.4 = 3003 cc) as used from the Group 4 days disadvantageously put the Group B quattro A1 into the now enforced 3000~3999 cc class. This meant that the car could not be developed further to weigh less than 1100 kgs (2425 lbs) but could however use a slightly wider set of combination tires – the latter not really helping the quattro’s handling woes.


A technical oversight that the engineers at Ingolstadt remedied a few months later by homologating yet another version, the rally quattro A2, with its engine’s displacement reduced slightly to 2135 cc (x1.4 = 2989 cc) to drop neatly into the 2500~2999 cc class regulations, which then permitted them to substantially lower the weight of the car with more extensive use of composite Kevlar panels (homologation # B-243).

Audi quattro A2.jpg
1983 Audi quattro A2

Extra mouldings were added to the rear arch extensions which, depending on conditions, could be opened up to bring more fresh air to the rear brakes. More attention was also put in trying to improve the car’s weight distribution by relocating many components such as a larger oil cooler under the rear spoiler.

Audi quattro A2 oil cooler.jpg

At the same time of the A2’s homologation, Audi also homologated the customer (road) version of the quattro so that any privateer would be able to purchase the car and compete in Group B (homologation # B-242) – aided by an array of available factory upgrades such as a dry sump oiling system, and sturdier chassis, brakes, suspension and drivetrain components.

The unending improvements of the quattro, including its distinct traction, power advantage, and the signing of former Opel and Lancia star driver Walter Röhrl by Audi Sport were sadly not enough for the team to retain the 1983 WRC manufacturer title despite five victories (four counting towards); Sweden, Portugal, Argentina, 1000 Lakes, all of them with Hannu Mikkola, and in the RAC with Stig Blomqvist plus multiple supporting podium finishes.

Lancia 037 Rallye

This loss was mostly due to the full-on assault of the championship by Lancia with their bespoke  and mid-engine Rallye 037. Even though it sported only rear-wheel drive, the little Lancia was however very agile and a force to be reckoned with on tarmac, relegating all other conventional RWD cars such as the Opel Manta B 400 to watch the fight from behind. Lancia thus edged out Audi by only 2 points in the manufacturer running – to which a more snowy Monte Carlo event might have reversed the final order. Hannu Mikkola however easily walked to the driver championship by 23 points over teammate Walter Röhrl.

Mikkola at the 1983 Safari Rally (C) e-WRC
1984 Audi Sport quattro S1

By then Audi Sport had been feeling the heat of their competitors, including those with upcoming bespoke mid-engine and four-wheel drive cars still in development, and began devising a counter-attack of their own – the Sport quattro. Launched in May of 1984, the Sport quattro S1 would only make a minor dent in the WRC season while Mikkola and Blomqvist raked up points with what came to be known as the “long wheelbase” quattro A2.

Audi quattro A2 – Walter Röhrl / Portugal 1984

Audi Sport were therefore more than happy to seemingly get back their utter domination on the WRC; clinching no less than seven outright wins (five counting) to recapture the 1984 manufacturer honours; Monte Carlo (Röhrl), Portugal (Mikkola) with Blomqvist winning Sweden, Acropolis, New Zealand, Argentina and Côte d’Ivoire. The wily Swede easily clinching the driver title by 21 points over Finnish teammate Mikkola.

1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16

While the Lancia 037 Rallye then seemed less a threat, thanks to the many improvements of the quattro A2’s reliability and overwhelming horsepower, Peugeot Talbot Sport had also introduced their nimble mid-engine four-wheel drive 205 Turbo 16 which dominated the later half of the season by winning three of the last events with rising star driver Ari Vatanen.

audi quattro interior.jpg
Audi quattro A2 interior
Audi Sport quattro E2

For 1985 and on, Audi Sport decided to officially field only the Sport quattro S1 in the WRC, relegating the use of the old “long wheelbase” quattros to privateer teams. Thus ended the reign of the quattro (A1/A2) in the WRC – the car never again winning an event on the world stage. Audi would not retain their competitiveness, the Sport quattro S1 only winning the Sanremo event in the year, despite producing the iconic and monstrously-winged E2 with overwhelming horsepower. Audi would officially abandon their Group B rally programmes after the horrific spectator deaths at the 1986 Portugal Rally. Group B itself was banned for the end of the year after Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto died in their Lancia Delta S4 at the Tour de Corse event.

The “long wheelbase” quattros would however still continue on competing in privateer teams, giving the model a few more hurrahs on the national level; Wilfried Wiedner won five events to take the Austrian Group B honours in 1985 and 1986, Antero Laine claimed the 1985 Finnish Group B crown, American John Buffum used his A2 for part of the season to claim the 1985 US title, Sarel van der Merwe had a strong showing in South Africa to win its 1985 championship, Hannu Mikkola was sent to the Hong Kong to Beijing Rally in a privately-built A2 to win the event in 1985, Stig Blomqvist returning to the 1986 edition to also win the rally, Leo Pavlik claimed the Czech title for 1986 while Timo Heinonen captured the Finnish 1986 Group B class.

Mikkola at the 1985 Hong Kong to Beijing Rally

After the ban of 1986, Group B cars had a difficult time finding venues to compete, including the Audi quattro, but yet some would find success; Petteri Lindström clinching the 1987 Finnish Group B national class with his A2, Dimi Mavropoulos following suit to claim the 1988 Cyprus crown. By then the quattro however seemed to become a bit old hat and had much difficulty overcoming the new crop of more modern and nimbler Group A four-wheel drive cars. The cult status of the Audi quattro quickly turned them into valuable collector’s items which only quickened its disappearance from the rally stages in the later 1980’s.

While the model has long since disappeared from competitive rallying, the Audi quattro remains strongly etched in the hearts of rally fans as the car that changed it all, and is often synonymous with Group B’s rise to legendary status.


  • 4 (4)
  • B/12 (A1/A2)

  • # B-671 (Group 4)
  • (A1) # B-229 (Group 4 transfer)
  • (A2) # B-243 (Group B)
  • click # to see papers
Years active
  • (4) 1981~82
  • (A1) 1983
  • (A2) 1983~1986
Homologation start:

  • (4) January 1st 1981
  • (A1) January 1st 1983
  • (A2) May 1st 1983

Homologation end:

  • (A1) December 31st 1988
  • (A2) December 31st 1989
  • (4) “WR” I-5, SOHC 10v, gas
  • (A1) “WR” I-5, SOHC 10v, gas
  • (A2) “MB” I-5, DOHC 20v, gas
front longitudinal with 27.5 o right inclination
  • (4/A1) 2145 cc
  • (A2) 2135 cc
  • (4/A1) WRC: x 1.4 = 3003 cc
  • (A2) WRC: x 1.4 = 2989 cc
Compression ratio
  • (4/A1) 6.3:1
  • (A2) 6.5:1
Output Power – Torque
  • (4) 300~320 HP @ 6500 rpm
  • (A1) 320~340 HP @ 6500 rpm
  • (A2) 350~370 HP@ 7000 rpm
  • (4/A1) 304 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
  • (A2) 332 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
Materials block: aluminium (1982 & on) cylinder head: aluminium
Aspiration & Injection
  • (4) KKK K26 turbocharger
  • (A1/A2) KKK K27 turbocharger
  • air/air intercooler
  • (4) Hitachi Mac-10 (1981) / Bosch K-Jetronic Mechanical Injection (1982)
  • (A1/A2) Bosch multi point EFI
boost: 11.6~27.6 psi
Ignition electronic  firing order 1-2-4-5-3
Lubrication system dry sump with oil cooler 12L capacity
Cooling system water-cooled
Type four-wheel drive 5-speed manual gearbox
Gearbox ratios 1st: 3.600
2nd: 2.188
3rd: 1.360
4th: 0.967
5th: 0.778
R: 3.500
1st: 3.000
2nd: 2.000
3rd: 1.500
4th: 1.217
5th: 1.042
R: 3.500
Differential ratios
  • front and rear
  • 4.375
  • 4.571
  • 4.625
  • 4.857
output from gearbox secondary axis to open or locked or limited slip centre differential with two outputs; 1st to hypoid spiral bevel gear, open front differential homocentrically through secondary hollow shaft of gearbox, 2nd to hypoid spiral bevel gear, 75% limited slip rear differential
Clutch Fichtel & Sachs, dry single disc, 240mm diameter
  • (4/A1) steel monocoque Typ-85 chassis version of VW B2 platform with roll-cage. Front steel subframe. 2 door coupe steel bodyshell with plastic bumpers.
  • (A2) steel monocoque Typ-85 chassis version of VW B2 platform with roll-cage. Front steel subframe. 2 door coupe steel and polypropylene bodyshell with polypropylene doors, polypropylene front/rear bonnets, polypropylene bumpers and polypropylene rear spoiler.
Front suspension
  • (4/A1) McPherson strut with lower wishbone, coil spring, gas shock absorber and antiroll bar.
  • (A2) McPherson strut with lower wishbone, 1 longitudinal radius arm, coil spring, gas shock absorber and antiroll bar.
Rear suspension
  • (4) McPherson strut with lower wishbone, coil spring, telescopic gas shock absorber and antiroll bar
  • (A1/A2) McPherson strut with lower wishbone, 1 longitudinal radius arm, coil spring, gas shock absorber and antiroll bar
Steering system rack and pinion with hydraulic power assistance 12.4:1 (2.5 turns lock to lock)
  • Front: ventilated rotors 280/295/305mm diameter with 4 aluminium piston calipers, water cooling available
  • Rear: solid rotors 245/280/295/305mm diameter with 4 aluminium piston calipers
  • dual circuit with servo
  • standard ratio split: F60%-R40%
length: 4404 mm (173.4 in) width:

  • (4) 1733 mm (68.2 in)
  • (A1/A2)1837 mm (72.3 in)
height: 1346 mm (53.0 in)
wheelbase: 2524 mm (99.4 in) front track: 1465 mm (57.7 in) rear track: 1502 mm (59.1 in)
Rims – Tires
  • (4/A1) Speedline light alloy
    snow or gravel: 6″~8″ x 15″, tarmac: 10″ x 15″
  • (A2) Speedline light alloy
    snow or gravel: 6″~8″ x 15″, tarmac:10″~11″ x 15″
  • (4) Kleber or (A1) Michelin
  • (A2) Michelin
Dry/Unladen Weight
  • (4) 1190~1240 kg (2625~2735 lb)
  • (A1) 1120~1140 kg (2470~2515 lb)
  • (A2) 1000~1100 kg (2200~2425 lb)
Bias: F60% – R40%
  • (4) 3.7 kg/HP (8.2 lb/HP)
  • (A1) 3.5 kg/HP (7.5 lb/HP)
  • (A2) 2.9 kg/HP (6.4 lb/HP)
Fuel tank 90~120 litres
Drag coefficient 0.43


Audi quattro at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show

The original Audi quattro was first meant to be produced at only 400 units for Group 4 homologation, its technology was however so ground-breaking that it was produced for 11 years – even overlapping with its successor model by two years! Sometimes called the “Urquattro”, it boasted an innovative four-wheel drive system paired with a hefty 5-cylinder turbocharged engine, and is single-handily responsible for changing the face of rallying. If you are driving a turbocharged four-wheel drive sports car today it is mostly thanks to this iconic car.

The production model was adapted for Group 4/B rallying and is therefore not a “homologation special” in the purest sense of the term. The latter would come with the introduction of the Sport quattro. The Urquattro went through a few technical and appearance changes over its production run, some of the early mechanical changes being due to homologation requirements for the then new Group B category – such as the limited production aluminium engine with revised displacement.

Audi quattro with revised front end

The quattro has since developed a strong cult following, making the road cars as equally sought after as their rally counterparts – mint examples fetching quite a fair premium. The quattro is, after all, the car that changed it all on the automotive scene. Audi will forever retain this unique distinction and honour.

It is worth mentioning that the “quattro” is correctly spelled with a small “q”, despite early press releases and documentation with a capital “Q”. The name is also used to specify the Audi four/all-wheel drive system. For more information about the correct spelling, CLICK HERE!

Anecdote: A red Audi quattro was also prominently used in the BBC sci-fi series “Ashes to Ashes”.


Class Sport Compact Homologations:

  • # B-671 (Group 4)
  • (A1) # B-229 (Group 4 transfer, aluminium engine)
  • # B-242 (Group B)
  • (A2) # B-243 (Group B, aluminium engine)
  • click # to see papers
Production 1980~1991 (11,452 units) Assembly: Ingolstadt, Germany
  • I-5
  • “WR” 2.1 L SOHC 10v (1980–87)
  • “MB” 2.2 L SOHC 10v (1987–89)
  • “RR” 2.2 L DOHC 20v (1989–91)
  • gas engine
  • Front
  • Longitudinal
Compression ratio N/A
Output power – torque
  • (2.1L / 10v) 197 HP (US 160 HP)
  • (2.2L / 10v) 197 HP
  • (2.2L / 20v) 207 HP
  • (2.1L / 10v) 210 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
  • (2.2L / 10v) 210 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
  • (2.2L / 20v) 200 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
Materials Block: cast iron Cylinder Head: aluminium
  • K26 KKK turbocharger
  • air/air intercooler
  • Bosch multi point EFI
Boost: –
Ignition electronic  firing order 1-2-4-5-3
Lubrication system wet sump dry sump (VO)
Cooling system water-cooled
Type four-wheel drive 5-speed manual gearbox
Gearbox ratios
  • 1st: 3.600
  • 2nd: 2.188
  • 3rd: 1.360
  • 4th: 0.967
  • 5th: 0.778
  • F: 3.889
  • R: 3.500
additional (VO)

  • 1st: 3.000
  • 2nd: 2.000
  • 3rd: 1.500
  • 4th: 1.217
  • 5th: 1.040
  • F: 3.889
  • R: 3.500
Differential ratios
  • 4.571
  • 4.857
  • (1980~1987) manual locks on centre and rear differentials
  • (1987~1991) Torsen center differential 50/50 (75/25-25/75 automatically distributed) manual lock on rear differential)
Clutch single plate / hydraulic actuation
Type steel monocoque Typ-85 chassis version of VW B2 platform, steel bodywork, polymer front and rear bumpers.
Front suspension McPherson strut with lower wishbone, coil spring, gas shock absorber and antiroll bar.
Rear suspension McPherson strut with lower wishbone, one longitudinal radius arm, coil spring, gas shock absorber and antiroll bar.
Steering system rack and pinion with hydraulic power assistance 22.4:1 ratio
  • F: single piston cast iron calipers with 280 mm discs
  • R: single piston cast iron calipers with 245 mm discs
  • dual circuit
  • cable parking brake
length: 4404 mm (173.4 in) width: 1722 mm (67.8 in) height: 1346 mm (53.0 in)
wheelbase: 2524 mm (99.4 in) front track: 1465 mm (57.7 in) rear track: 1502 mm (59.1 in)
Rims – tires N/A N/A
Curb Weight 1290~1350 kg (2845~2975 lb) Bias:N/A
Weight/power 6.2~6.9 kg/HP (13.7~15.2 lb/HP)
Fuel tank N/A
Drag coefficient 0.43


From the February 1982 issue of MotorSport Magazine (spell-checked & corrected)

The quattro: a car that brought rallying another route to success

Because four-wheel drive was such a dead duck in the racing world and had already been tried and found wanting commercially for anything but ungainly off-road vehicles, there were plenty of scoffers on hand when Audi announced their 4WD quattro at the Geneva Motor Show in the spring of 1980. The award-winning abilities of the Jensen FF and the performance of Stirling Moss with the Ferguson system at Aintree were all conveniently shelved. There were those, now amongst the keenest supporters of the car’s “invincible technological advantage”, who soon told us that, like front-wheel drive, it was doomed never to succeed in international rallying. Their grounds for such an assertion? “Too complex, too difficult to drive.”

Now, after three 1981 World Championship victories (one the first ever scored by a woman) and a performance that simply routed any trace of effective opposition upon the recent Lombard RAC Rally, some of these “experts” are busy telling us that “no, of course, I didn’t mean it was too complicated.” and “of course, the Germans were bound to get it right,” or “well four-wheel drive was bound to work, wasn’t it?”

For Britain the first inkling of how effective the factory Audis were likely to be in the UK came on the pre-RAC Rally Donington Rallysprint. Anyone — even those with Ford embossed across their undergarments — could see that: a) Hannu Mikkola set one fastest time, with recur wheel puncture for most of the run, against the best opposition the RAC rally was likely to offer, and b) Alan Jones defeated not only his fellow GP drivers easily but also all the rally drivers, bar Hannu Mikkola, when it came to his turn. All this in the rather tired ex-Sanremo factory test car that was used for the Donington TV outing: a car not even mining the specially designed RAC camshaft that had been originally proposed. The engine had been the subject of a hasty top end overhaul in the swirling mists of Wales, at a Welsh test session held a few days previously. Mix in the fact that Michele Mouton had shown that her determination and quattro traction could win an event not biased toward Quartets motoring (Sanremo) and Britain got the quattro message loud and clear.

Yet, set as they are for a massive number of 1982 entries in rallying and rallycross, through works and national Audi Sport teams, the Ingolstadt team are not relaxing. December I saw the homologation of a new alloy block to save some 20 kg. / 44 lb. in the nose-heavy machine, and testing is going on in the background for either a completely new rally car (based on the forthcoming Audi 80 4WD saloon, due for 1982 public sale?) or a shorter wheelbase version of quattro, again hoping to save weight, which is regarded as the Achilles heel (or Achillesferse as we German dictionary owners say) of the present car. At some 1,220 to 1,240 kg., up to 2,734 lb.), compared to the sub-1,000 kg. weights anticipated by 1982 World Championship homeland rivals Opel, one can see their point.

Just before the RAC we were accorded the privilege of riding in the factory rally car with Mikkola while he was completing three days of Welsh testing (we were allowed a day and an evening interview, at which Mouton joined us). This was followed by a day trip, without the usual presence of our colleagues from rival journals, to the factory, which is less than an hour outside Munich. In fact the competitions department is an assembly area really, for the engines and vital transmission train are developed and come ready for installation from the nearby Audi engineering and development department, while the unpainted quattro bodies are sent to Mätter in Stuttgart. They are returned in white primer with a mass of detail strengthening work, a virtual tubular sub-chassis and roll cage, and a host of bracketry needed to support the systems of a 300 horsepower, five-cylinder, four-wheel-drive, turbocharged, rally car.

Unlike many rivals Audi have kept a log of important dates in the development of their Championship challenger. They do not credit Jorg Benzinger with the original idea of transferring Iltis military vehicle technology to the road car, but that has always been our understanding of the case. It is also important to understand that the original competition manager, Walter Treser, got a very sharp heave-ho after the three-car team were disqualified from the Acropolis World Championship event (June 1981). Today the team is run by Roland Gumpert (ex-Iltis programme) and Reinhard Roede, who was concerned originally with suspension development engineering at Audi. We should also pay tribute to Jurgen Stockmar, who put some impetus into Audi’s competition aspirations by running the Audi 80 in saloon car racing in the late seventies (the company won the European title, taking away from fellow Bavarians, BMW, for the first time since 1973 when Audi won in 1980!) and Freddy Kottulinsky. German nobleman and former Formula 3 “tough cookie”, who matured into a painstaking development driver.

“Fort Audi” has the usual Teutonic aversion to unauthorised entry but competitions department is innocuous enough from the outside, its low two storeys and underground accommodation being part of suburban Ingolstadt. Unlike Ford’s old “take the left at the telegraph pole with three rings round it and you’ll find Boreham at the end,” Audi have a huge board up proclaiming their business — and their sense of history. For the board tells you this establishment is also competition HQ for NSU and Auto Union! There were no 16-cylinder GP cars that we could see, but any team that produces a successful rally car of this complexity might find GP racing straightforward by comparison: it’s just the politics that are difficult…

Having buzzed for admittance the interior holds few surprises. Upstairs is a modern office suite with East German child emigrant Gumpert controlling the technical reins from one unpretentious room. Reinhard Roede, at 37 years of age a year senior to Gumpert, looking after the administration role for 27 mechanics, four chief, mechanics and a small staff — bringing total inhabitants to 43— in a slightly grander office.

Since it was obvious that the team were now getting to grips with their complicated charge after a fraught mid-season, I asked Roede what he thought had made the difference. “Now we work more closely together with the engineering department,” felt the drily humorous boss who has competed widely on two and four wheels himself. “We have had a shorter time to develop our cars than rivals at Opel, and everywhere else. Now we gels real quick exchange of information and action inside the company and that makes a big difference. Also the system of having one person to look after all technical matters is good…”

Discussions with Mikkola and Gumpert revealed that most progress has been made in providing predictable handling and a reliable 315 to 325 b.h.p. Gumpert felt, “you know, it would be easy to give Hannu 350 horsepower, or much more, but that is not the point. The point is to have a car at the finish of more rallies than we made in 1981. There will be better turbocharging in ’82, for sure KKK and ourselves are working on this. What we want is more horsepower and less revs, to make the engine more like a normal aspirated unit with the best response that is possible.” As an example of how much power Potential lies within the 2.2-litre five, Gumpert detailed a doubling in depth for the Langerer & Reid air-to-air intercooler, releasing another 20 b.h.p. by further reduction of induction air temperature.

Both Mikkola and Gumpert admit that the Quattro would be more effective as a competition car with a larger, normally aspirated engine (one is tempted to nominate Rover’s lightweight alloy V8), but Audi’s marketing department can only justify such expenditure if the vehicle maintains the principles that are being offered to the public.

How was the handling improved? The answer, in as much as any outsider may learn it, was a combination of Mikkola’s dedicated no-nonsense testing and Gumpert’s practical research backed by the inevitable computer back at base.

Mikkola remembers. “David Sutton let us have an Escort for comparison, so that we could see we were going always in the right direction. We did not use this too much, once we first had found where we were going.

“At first the engine temperatures were wrong, much too high. The engine was not nice to drive, there was nothing under 4,000 r.p.m. You had to wait, and wait, for any power. Then it would go like hell (Hannu emphasised it to heeaall!) to 7,500.

“We did quite a lot of testing in Finland and in Greece. We got it really right after the 1000 Lakes. It used to go to the right when accelerating — and I had to allow at least one metre each side for safety.

“Also we changed the power split. Always it was pushing and understeering. Now we have 75 percent limited slip setting on the back; 100 percent on the middle diff. and no limited slip at all at the front.”

That is just part of the story, necessarily glib for reasons of space, but you can take it as read that a good 50 percent of Audi’s success is owed to continuous Mikkola test mileage since 1979. Testing that he conducts usually without a helmet and with a technician (Kleber or Audi supplied) alongside and which is conducted by driving briskly by his personal standard and faster than all but a handful of other rally drivers in the World can manage Hat out. He is not one for “I think it understeers a tiny bit here and we need 15.1 in. rims” school, but the flat statement: “it is understeering here, here and here,” leaving the German technicians to find the answers on solid fact. The amount of equipment tested is enormous and Mikkola does not pretend to “know all the tricks they have in here. I just tell them: it is better, it is worse, and you can see by the watch what is happening.”

At present Mikkola is still using the English language that he developed in over a decade of regular appearances and occasional living spells in this country. The team are also using English to communicate with Mademoiselle Mouton, but Hannu is learning the essential German technical phrases and is set to stay with the team until the new, lighter car comes for the 1983 season. He jokes about winning the World Championship at 40 (next year), but his recent years of comparative abstinence from alcohol and dedication to keeping fit have left him a fitter-looking man than he was during his factory Ford Escort career in the early seventies.

Looking at the Audis at rest in Ingolstadt was to view one of the most interesting technical exercises that any manufacturer has dared to field in motorsport. An engine, complete with its fuel injection, KKK turbocharger (the size of which may be varied from event to event in association with camshaft profiles to tune the motor to the likely terrain) and gearbox, is an awesome sight on its own. Now the layout and plumbing is neat compared with early examples, but there is still the inherent complication which attends such a car. Thus the philosophy that Gumpert expounded with convincing fervour, “in all things we must first make sure it does not break, because if we have a breakage, usually it must take longer to repair than in other cars”. For example Audi changed a gearbox on the RAC in a 59-minute record: David Sutton’s Escort mechanics changed three gearboxes on Airikkala’s Ford, one in 12 minutes, and that is not the fastest they can manage!

The approach shows in the suspension. Aside from the precise length of arms and exact mounting points being settled by the computer working from that 1000 Lakes and other test data, all the components have been considerably strengthened so that the cur can brush a rock without requiring replacement suspension. Of course Audi pay the weight penalty, but the car is getting to the finish of more events — and extra power has never been a problem, just handling the way a turbo delivers it.

The “belt and braces” engineering attitude is also evident. Look in the boot. The massive 26 gallon tank curves round much of the space, surrounded by floor pumps, a separator tank and failsafe filters. After embarrassing bouts of fuel injection maladies, Gumpert has ensured that any stray air is separated before delivery to the motor, that filtration is obsessively thorough and that each high pressure pump has a back-up. As another example there is the latest development that — unlike the alloy cylinder blocks — will be seen in Monte Carlo.

This is the answer to the gearbox trouble Michele Mouton experienced on RAC Rally. “First we make sure of the strength of the gears. There is a tooth missing from second, and also from the differential,” Gumpert explained of their post-RAC findings, “so we take both and make them in stronger steel. Then just to make sure that — if it does happen again — we are OK, we put three very strong magnets in the lubrication areas of the transmission. If it does break you can drive for miles without damage!”

There was much, much more. The ride with Mikkola deserved a separate article to itself and I have asked the Ingolstadt engineers if we may revisit the department when they are testing the alloy-blocked cars, but this time I would like to see the engine and transmission development too. They smiled tolerantly, knowing that therein not much point until quattro technology is transferred to the 1983 competition car publicly.

Assuming they use what has been learned in the quattro to produce a simpler and lighter endorsement of a 4WD system that has already been effectively demonstrated as light and strong by 4WD standards, the other two-wheel drive rally manufacturers might as well pack up their bags now and depart for something easy like file racing!

Ranged against that technical achievement I would place a question mark against Audi management beyond the competition department. They have stood beside the project through the most difficult times, but rallying may not mean enough to the public for that persistence to continue to a competition replacement for quattro. Spending this sort of competition money, a board member could well ask, should we revive the Silberfeile (Silver Arrow) Grand Prix Team and sort those upstarts of Munich out? Stranger things have happened. — J.W.

SOURCE: (C) MotorSport Magazine – February 1982 (used under permission)

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 Group B – The rise and fall of rallying’s wildest cars (English)

Gruppe B Gruppe B – Aufstieg und Fall der Rallye-Monster (German)

Group 4 Group 4 – From Stratos to quattro (English)

Gruppe 4 Gruppe 4 – Das Jahrzehnt der Heckschleudern (German)

Traction For Sale: The Story of Ferguson Formula Four-Wheel Drive

WRC The Complete Book of World Rally Champions : All the Cars, All the Drivers 1974-2004

Cosworth Cosworth- The Search for Power

 Audi quattro – The Rally History (English + German)

 Rally Giants – Audi quattro

Audi quattro Rally Car: Enthusiast Manual

Audi quattro (German)

Audi quattro LM Audi quattro: The Complete Story

Audi quattro Gold Portfolio Audi quattro: 1980-1991

Audi Sport 30 30 Years of Audi Sport (English)

Audi Sport 30 30 Years of Audi Sport (German)

Audi quattro little The Little Book of Audi quattro

Audi quattro portfolio Audi quattro: Ultimate Portfolio

Audi quattro inside Audi quattro: The Inside Story of Your Car

(C) Rally car article, homologation car summary, & specifications by Jay Auger – website owner, main author & chief editor

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