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Audis in rallying (was: Mt. Washington in 4KQ)

Mark Nelson <mnelson@brls.com> wrote:

>The second point, you need to be corrected on is the reason Audi pulled
>out of the WRC in 1986.  Audi pulled out of the WRC after the tragic
>accident in Portugal (3rd race of the year), where one of the Ford
>Cosworth drivers (not Stig Blumqvist) went off course and killed a
>couple of spectators and injured several others.  All of the factory
>teams dropped out of the rally, and Audi dropped out of the series for
>the season.  Audi then came back in 1987 to run Groupe A, in a 200TQ,
>with Hannu Mikkola at the wheel.  True this car only made 250
>horsepower, but Audi did come back after 1986.  I have never heard of
>Audi pulling out because of the understeer of the car.  It was obvious
>the car had been mastered by the likes of Walter Rohrl, Hannu Mikkola,
>Michele Mouton, Stig Blumqvist, John Buffum, and Paul Choinere, to name
>a few, who have been extremely successful with it.  If understeer was
>the entire issue, then I doubt you would have even seen Audi compete in
>the Trans Am series in 1988, and the IMSA GTO series.

Quoting from the book 'Audi Quattro Gold Portfolio', featuring an article
from 4x4 driver -Nov 88:
'Then the spectator accident in Portugal to Joaquim Santos' Ford RS200 got
everyone really worried and forced Audi to withdraw from the sport. Mikkola
later described what things in the ultimate rally Quattro were like. "We
were testing at the time for the forthcoming Acropolis Rally in Greece. The
vibrations and the speed were so staggering we could not even see out of
the cars at all." Clearly it was time for a change in direction.'

-If I read this well, to me it seems that Audi has used the horrific
accident in Portugal as an excuse to withdraw what was by then a car past
its best, coming up against ever more fierce competition from the
purpose-built rally cars, like the RS200, Lancia 037 and Peugeot 205 T16.
It was very credible to withdraw at the time, because of the bad image
these things gave rallying. (To date, the crowd control problems in some
countries still haven't been resolved- I've even seen the spectators
blocking the way for some drivers, forcing them to make a detour and lose

Another quote from this article:
'Audi made tentative steps into Group A rallying at the behest of the
marketing rather than the engineering divisions with the 200 Quattro, but
bowed out soon after an unexpected win on the Safari Rally. There was a lot
of internal discussion about the purpose of the company's competition
involvement. In the five years since the Quattro came the international
rally scene Audi had gained credibility for passenger car use of permanent
4x4 in low traction situations. Many people, not the least Dr. Ferdinand
Piech, soon to become Audi Number One, felt it was time to prove something
new - like credibility for passenger car use of permanent 4x4 on every day
asphalt. From these germs of ideas came the American Transam programme -
and a lot more tradition destruction.'

Interesting stuff... in the Audi video 'Triumph of an idea' this Portuguese
Rally accident is ignored altogether. Also, there seems to be no common
opinion in the Gold Portfolio articles on the competitiveness of the Sport
Quattro/S1. The fact that Group B -for which it was intended- was canceled
soon after the PR accident, means that it has had few chances to prove
itself, apart from the Pikes Peak episode. Any opinions on this?

88 80 1.8S (Also used for incidental trailer towing)

 Tom Nas                                          Zeist, The Netherlands

       'What are you going to do when you grow up as big as I?'
                  asked the father of his son. 'Diet.'