Past Legends Look Toward Future of Audi Quattro

Audi RS e-tron GT

With rally legends Stig Blomqvist and Fabrizia Pons, Audi DTM driver Nico Muller explores quattro’s past and future.

In 1980, Audi made a life-changing move for itself by introducing the quattro system to the world. No longer would all-wheel drive be the domain of trucks and agriculture. Now, passenger cars could use all corners to provide greater control on the road. Combined with high-performance, turbocharged engines, the new quattro carved a path for all cars to consider taking going forward.

In 2021, Audi’s quattro is now part of the electrification revolution in the overall auto industry. As a tribute, Audi’s YouTube channel enlisted their DTM driver, Nico Muller, to go back to where it all began: France’s Col de Turini. Of course, he wouldn’t be alone on this journey.

Audi Quattro

“Beginning of the Eighties, first ’82, you couldn’t believe the difference with two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive,” said rally legend Stig Blomqvist. “It was really nice, and the feeling was fantastic. I think Audi has done a good job before they started rallying because they wanted to show the rest of the world what four-wheel drive can do. Everybody was thinking, ‘Okay, it’s another Jeep system.’ But they soon find out it was a lot better than that.”

Blomqvist is one of a few to wield the might of the quattro in the Group B era. Through the ur-Quattro, Audi would not only rack up wins and records, but upend rallying forever with all four of its wheels. And what happens on race day translates to the showroom.

Audi RS e-tron GT

“In a combustion engine car, you have a single motor” said Audi Formula-E champion Lucas di Grassi. “You need a very complicated and sophisticated mechanical distribution with differentials and drive shafts to get this power and torque distributed in the four wheels.”

With the RS e-tron GT, computers and electric motors handle the job. Thus, performance is maximized. Blomqvist says the electric Audi outperforms his Group B terror. That’s certainly saying something.

Audi Quattro

“We had such a huge passion,” said rally legend Fabrizia Pons. “It didn’t matter at all how many nights we were not sleeping, and we were working, working, working. It’s important, the commitment. It’s important to know the car.”

Pons says her role as half of the first all-women rally duo with Michele Moulton didn’t hit her at first. Only years later did it occur to her how momentous and historic it was. She adds she’s always working toward the future, then and now, an attitude Audi knows well, especially with quattro.

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Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Louisville.com/Louisville Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.

Hannu Mikkola’s Record-Breaking Run in the Quattro S1 E2 is INSANE!

Hannu Mikkola - Audi Quattro S1 E2

Documentary looks back on late rally legend Hannu Mikkola’s record-setting run at the 1985 1000 Lakes Rally Finland in the Quattro S1 E2.

When one thinks of Audi and rallying, it’s usually of the Quattro upending the old order. Guided by the likes of Michele Moulton, Walter Rohl and Stig Blomqvist, the all-wheel-drive missile dug its wheels deep into the earth to take several wins in the Group B era.

Another name to make their mark with the Quattro? The late Hannu Mikkola, who left this world for Valhalla in late February 2021. A short documentary by amjayes2 recounts one of Mikkola’s greatest moment during the 1985 1000 Lakes Rally Finland, made possible by the Quattro S1 E2.

Hannu Mikkola - Audi Quattro S1 E2

“When I drove with the S1 in Ouninpohja,” said Mikkola, “I had some engine issues, and we had gone off losing some time. In a fury state of mind, I though, ‘Let’s drive this home stage as well as we can.’ That went so fast with these powerful cars, it felt like you weren’t sitting in the car anymore, as if you were outside of it all.”

Packing up to 500 horsepower with a top speed of 137 mph, the Quattro S1 E2 howled, roared and chirped with a fury befitting the demonic chaos of Group B. Before Mikkola could reach the summit at the Ouninpohja stage, though, he and co-pilot Arne Hertz needed to survive all the 1000 Lakes threw at them.

Hannu Mikkola - Audi Quattro S1 E2

“Engine wouldn’t start,” Mikkola told an interviewer in the middle of the second day of the rally. “The organizers washed the cars with the pressure washers, wetting the engine and the power distributor, resulting in not starting.”

After losing a rear wing to some young trees at the first stage of the first day, the engine issue also resulted in a 30-second penalty. The organizers tried to add another minute to the penalty, which would’ve made things more difficult. The extra minute would be withdrawn, though, leaving the rally itself to deal more of its own punishment upon the Quattro.

Hannu Mikkola - Audi Quattro S1 E2

“Driving in Ouninpohja demands a lot of courage and a big heart,” Mikkola would say years later. Two attempts through failing brakes and a big oil leak later, he set the stage record: 11 minutes, 35 seconds. His average speed? Around 80 mph.

Alas, the record would be Mikkola’s greatest triumph at Rally Finland. Following two more stage wins, he’d never again win another, retiring after the death of fellow legend Henri Toivonen at the 1986 Corsica Rally. Yet, for one brief moment in time, Mikkola and his Quattro left a mark upon the world that will never, ever be forgotten.

Click HERE to join the AudiWorld forums!

Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Louisville.com/Louisville Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.