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.

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.

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.

Audi Taps Ken Block to Aid With EV Development

Audi Taps Ken Block

It’s not clear exactly what the partnership between Ken Block and Audi means just yet. Except videos. Lots of cool videos.

Unless you’re a smart device — think light bulb or refrigerator — and you’ve been on the internet at all in the last decade, Ken Block needs no introduction. After all, this is the man who turned  precision-grade hooning into global stardom. And now, he’ll be working with Audi on the development of electric vehicles. According to a statement from Block, the partnership will “develop innovative projects and push the boundaries of electric mobility.” So yup, not a lot of detail there just yet.

But you don’t need a crystal ball to predict that Block will be put to work on the motorsport side, to exploit the expertise he gained during his tenures in Global RallyCross, Rally America, and the World Rally Championship. So bet that he’s already talking with Audi’s Dakar team on the RS Q E-Tron racer, the electric beast that hopes to conquer the world’s hardest rally event. Since Block has already podiumed on the Dakar Rally — in an EV, no less — his input will likely prove invaluable.

One thing we can be certain of? There will be videos. Lots of ridiculously entertaining videos showcasing the cool new electric tech Audi is working on. So even if you’re not a fan of electric cars or rally machines, there will certainly be something about this partnership that floats your boat. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Block do some proper work behind the wheel of the new e-tron GT. Though I do have to wonder if the complicated electric drive system will allow for the car control magnificence we’ve come to expect from the Gymkhana legend.

In talking about what drew him to partner will Audi, Block said classic Audi rally videos were what drew him to motorsport to begin with. But since he’s partnered with Subaru for his petrol-powered racing efforts, don’t expect any videos of him ripping around in a classic quattro S1. That said, we’re sure to hear — and see — more about this exciting partnership soon, so stay tuned. Because whatever’s next here? It’s certain to be epic as all hell. For now, watch the teaser below.

Photos: YouTube

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700 HP Audi Quattro S1 E2 Sounds Like a VELOCIRAPTOR!

Mikkola Audi Quattro S1 E2

Once part of late Finnish rally driver Hannu Mikkola’s team, Quattro S1 E2 lived a successful second life in the British hill climb scene.

Though Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive helped place Ingolstadt in the spotlight back in the Eighties, it was the ur-Quattro itself that made the company a household name. It certainly arrived at the right time, too, right at the start of rallying’s Group B era. Once the Quattro placed all four of its wheels deep into the ground, it set a standard all competitors would follow to this day. And when those small engines made huge power through turbos, superchargers, and sometimes both, sending that power to all corners was a foregone conclusion.

What happens when those beasts leave the big stage, though? For one Quattro S1 E2, running up a few hills seemed to be in order. HillClimb Monsters recently unearthed rare footage of the Audi, run in the British hill climb scene by the late Tom Hammond.

Mikkola Audi Quattro S1 E2

“One of the most beloved HillClimb Monsters to ever compete in the UK,” HillClimb Monsters says, “this was Tom Hammond’s Audi Quattro S1 E2, an ex-Hannu Mikkola works unit, which the late Mr. Hammond campaigned for a number of years in the British HillClimb scene, beating plenty of ‘Closed Car’ Records at the time.”

The late Mikkola started his rallying career in various makes before jumping to Audi’s factory team in 1981. By 1983, he and co-driver Arne Hertz won the WRC World Championship, making Mikkola the oldest driver to win the crown to this day.

Mikkola Audi Quattro S1 E2

“With the 2.1L 5 Cylinder Turbo Engine producing upwards of 700Hp at its peak and weighing little over 1000Kg, it had the Pikes Peak Version bodywork fitted and certainly was a sight to behold,” Hillclimb Monsters said.

As for how Hammond acquired this Quattro, DriveTribe said he was shopping for a road-legal version in Germany when he spotted Mikkola’s ride. However it happened, Hammond returned to the U.K. “in style” with the Group B terror, and its tow vehicle.

Mikkola Audi Quattro S1 E2

It’s not often one sees a beast like this Quattro in public, let alone hear it. Let us all be thankful this footage exists to remind us how cool such Group B terrors truly were.

Photo: DriveTribe

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.

Former S3 IMSA Car Becomes 550-HP RS 3 Pikes Peak Climber

Audi RS 3 Pikes Peak

Piloted by Robb Holland, RS 3 dubbed “The Sledgehammer” brings 550 horses to reclaim front-wheel drive record at Pikes Peak.

Audi is no stranger to Colorado’s Pikes Peak. After the end of Group B rallying in the mid-Eighties, the ur-Quattro and Sport Quattro both took on the 12.42-mile climb into the clouds, smashing records and scoring trophies along the way. Audi even sent up a TTS with autonomous technology in 2010 to prove such tech could make the climb up and down the famous course in the first place.

In more recent times, Robb Holland wields an Audi of his own for Pikes Peak, an RS 3 dubbed “The Sledgehammer.” Hoonigan AutoFocus‘s Larry Chen spent some time at this year’s gathering to learn more about Holland’s Audi, and all that goes into taking it up the mountain.

Audi RS 3 Pikes Peak

“It was an S3,” said Holland. “Full all-wheel drive; that’s how it ran in IMSA. Then, we converted it to front-wheel drive because we set the front-wheel drive record in the TT RS, the one that we won the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with. Brought it here, set the record. Then, two years later, Acura brought their full factory effort, and took the record from us by six seconds.”

The conversion to front-wheel drive also turned the now-RS 3 into an Unlimited-class car. Though it is outclassed by everyone else in said class, Holland’s main goal is to take back the record from Acura. In 2020, they fell three seconds short, due to the bumps.

Audi RS 3 Pikes Peak

“Right now, this is the two-liter motor,” said Holland. “We’d love to run the 2.5-liter […] But for right now, we’ve developed this as a 550-horsepower– it works. It’s designed to work at Pikes Peak. It’s designed to work at altitude.”

To put all the power to the ground, Pirelli Supersofts handle the task at hand. Since it’s already cool in the mornings, though, tire warmers bring them up to a piping hot 200 degrees. That said, the higher the elevation, the harder it is to keep the tires warm. Thus, the softer compound.

Audi RS 3 Pikes Peak

“The guys at Bluewater Performance, who built this car […] they wanted a car that was closer to their customer cars,” said Holland, “as opposed to some one-off prototype or whatever. It’s worked out really, really well. It just goes to show how far you can push a street car, and the level of performance you can get out of it.”

Images: Larry Chen (screenshots by author)

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.