Before the collective (and competitive) madness of mid-80’s Group B Rallying, Audi dominated the Rally stages for a number of successful years after the introduction of its 4WD Audi Quattro 80 ‘A1’ (or ‘UrQuattro’) in 1980. With the new rules in Rallying allowing all-wheel-drive variants onto the scene, Audi was the first to capitalise (and win – even on the Quattro’s very 1st Rally in ’81) with their 4WD monster.
Three iterations of the Rally Quattro evolved during Audi’s foray into Rallying during the mid-80’s, culminating with the flame-spitting, demonic-sounding, 600 bhp Sport Quattro ‘S1’ of 1985 (below). Along with the artillery-grade power output, it also featured a wheelbase that was noticeably shortened from previous versions and gained a plethora of wings, scoops and vents to aid in keeping this gnashing beast hunkered to the ground. It was also the most powerful Rally car ever built…
Yet, by the time the Sport Quattro ‘S1’ hit the exciting Group B Rally scene in ’85, serious competition from the likes of Peugeot and Lancia (piloted by such amazing drivers as Markku Alen, Ari Vatanen and Walter Rohrl, mind) gave the ageing Quattro a good run for the title. The Sport Quattro ‘S1’, though massively capable, only achieved a single victory – the San Remo Rally in ’85.
Precursor to the bombastic ‘S1’ was the Quattro ‘A2’ of 1983 (below, leaping) that helped Hannu Mikkola clinch the Driver’s Championship for the ’83 season. Despite a string of impressively successful first few years on the Rallying scene with its game-changing (yet heavy) 4WD tech-fest in 81, Audi was, as mentioned, beginning to feel the competitive pressure from other factory teams – most noteworthy being Lancia, its talented line-up of drivers and its emerging rear-wheel-drive 037 that helped Lancia win the Constructor’s Title in ’83.
By the time of Group B’s banning in 1986 for safety reasons and concerns, Audi’s influence on the entire Rallying scene had been made… and then some. The machines themselves became instant icons and the (brave) Drivers were immortalised – Audi had left a mark in Motorsport’s illustrious history that will forever remain legendary… and missed.