Audi Rally: The Cars

How Audi set the tone for traction. Thanks to Audi Press.

The rally world of the early-to-mid 1980s was dominated by Audi, thanks to a wide variety of Quattro models. An Audi Type C claimed victory on the Austrian Alpine Rally in 1912 – so the brand had already a long history in Rally sport. This was the first of three back-to-back victories at the event for the Type C.  Audi boss August Horch played a crucial role behind the wheel during this famous hat-trick of wins.

Audi got back into the modern rally scene in 1978 with the front-wheel-drive 80 model. A great car in its own right, the 80’s campaign was a perfect way to get the team shaken down and ready for the arrival of the Quattro anda frontal assault on 1981’s World Rally Championship.

The original Quattro  – or ‘Ur Quattro’, as it is known in Germany – was initially rallied under Group 4 regulations in 1981. The first Group B Quattro appeared in 1983 and was known as an ‘A1 Quattro’. The more powerful A2 version followed soon after.

All three versions of the Quattro were rallied successfully by the Audi UK team. Stig Blomqvist used both the A1 and A2 to win the British Rally Championship of 1983, before becoming world champion with Audi the following year. Harald Demuth campaigned a four-door saloon 80 Quattro during the 1983 British championship.

The short-wheelbase Audi Sport Quattro S1 debuted with Walter Röhrl at the helm on the 1984 Ulster Rally. The ultimate Quattro, the be-winged Sport quattro S1 E2, edged all the other Quattros by 1985.

Audi UK ran an S1 E2 for Michèle Mouton on two events in 1985. However in 1986 the team continued to find further success by campaigning  the S1, winning the National Breakdown and Welsh rallies with Hannu Mikkola.

After the ultra-powerful Group B cars were banned at the end of 1986, Audi UK signed David Llewellin to drive a Group A Coupé Quattro. The car still had the advantage of all-wheel drive, but its five-cylinder engine lacked a turbocharger. A win on the Scottish Rally and second on the Circuit of Ireland were its best results in that year’s British Rally Championship.

Audi Sport debuted its 200 quattro on the 1987 Monte Carlo Rally, where Röhrl finished third. Three months later, Mikkola won the Safari Rally, chased home by Röhrl in second. The big executive saloon was also campaigned by Audi UK in 1988, while an Audi 90 quattro also appeared at events in Europe around that time.

The Audi UK team withdrew at the end of the 1988 season, returning to the rally stages in 1993 with a Group N Coupé S2 quattro for Shell Scholarship winner Jonny Milner. The Yorkshireman scored an impressive fifth place overall in the road-going-specification car on the Pirelli International Rally.