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ur-quattro in a den of subarus
i had my second chance to participate in a subaru club "track day" on
the week-end. this entails a bunch of subaru's going out of town to a
farm in the wine country of the wairapa. the farmer is happy to let the
club use his very large, flat field for their activities. the emphasis
is on letting people explore the limits of their and their cars in a
safe and constructive environment. there is a prize giving at the end
to allow for competitive rivaly...
the club planned 2 courses, each setout with cones and the cars run
through the courses with the club officials handling the timing.
was half the fun. i met up with the club and with richard, an old
photographer buddy of mine who has just taken possession of a new (ex
japan) subaru rs (twin turbo). around 210kw, and looks nice. we made
our own way to the wairapa which involves about 80km of travel, 40kms of
which are over a twisty moutnain road which is sealed with many 35km
corners and switchbacks. absolutely wonderful road.
i went first and richard followed. as i was upholding audi's honor, i
was trying pretty hard and, after a brief time to adjust to the
ur-quattro's different handling to the rs2, i was away. in these
conditions the ur-quattro is an absolute blast and i could put time on
richard (who is a better driver than me, see below) - not much, but
significant. after a cup of coffee in the wine village of martinborough
prior to heading to the club meet, richard commented on how stable the
quattro was and how it "squatted" on it's springs, gripped and then just
stuck,and went. he commented that he was having to deal with more body
roll, and was feeling less secure.
coming back, richard went first and i followed. as expected i had no
difficulty in keeping up with the rs-tt, and saw that richard was having
to take quite wide lines. the odd puff of blue smoke on hard
acceleration from the subaru was also slightly dis-concerting. with the
low-down punch of my turbo, i was able to get more drive out of the
corners than the subaru. richard was right also that the rs was leaning
more in the corners whcih probably made it more difficult to place
accurately (btw, i'd make the same comment about my rs2 relative to the
a wonderful road and a great drive. it made me reaslise, yet again, how
magical the 20v ur-quattro is as a driving machine. richard is still
keen to by the ur-q if it comes up for sale...
20 cars in total, all japanese apart from mine.
1 mitsi vr4
1 subaru wrx group "n" spec
2 wrx 0.5 group "n"
4 wrx (normal)
5+ legacy turbos (rs tt, and normal rs)
2 legacy rs wagons
1 legacy gt (auto, non t) wagon
1 corolla fwd
1 1990 ur-quattro
i have never seen more commodious exhausts in my life. arrival saw one
guy bring some ramps from the back of his legacy, put the rear up on the
ramps, and promptly fit a group "n" straight through pipe, followed by
filling the tank with aviation gas! there were wrx exhausts which must
have been 7cm in diameter!
most cars were on road tyres with 1 wrx and 1 legacy on cross-country
after a downpour on friday, sunday dawned brilliantly fine and produced
a perfect winters day, 15 degrees (c) and mild sunburn potential.
the field was pretty flat, with a soft top. grass cover was good, but
soon cut up. with the temperature, the churned up ground firmed well by
later in the day.
2 courses were set with cones. 3 timed runs were undertaken of each
course with overall timings consolodated. a 2 second penalty was
incurred for any contact with the cones.
the fist course was a slalom with an out-and-back shape.
the key here was smoothness and traction, and the ability to get the "j"
turn at the middle of the course right. traction was not good, which
meant that you have to be smooth, and carry as much speed as possible.
the hairpin took some effort as the classic "j" turn wouldn't work
properly due to the lack of traction. throttle control and left foot
braking (in this case to ensure good 'bite"), also needed to be in the
it was also interesting to see the different styles of the drivers (or
my 1st run was a 30.21 (4th), and on the 2nd run i was tidier, although
the track was worse. i improved to a 29.39 (2nd) and on the last run
tried wider lines which didn't work and dropped to a 33.11 which was
6th. overall i was 3rd fastest which was pleasing. my old photography
buddy richard in his tt rs was 2nd fastest which was good for him :-(
the 2nd course was a simple coned square which was undertaken twice with
the last cone being passed the other way and the car having to finish
stationery between the start/finish cones.
here the speeds were higher and the "racing line" cut up pretty quickly.
later circuits rewarded a much wider line with full-tilt oversteer. lf
braking on corner entry worked well most of the time, provided you were
careful. the final corner (essentially a reverse direction hairpin) was
very tricky to get right.
here, driver skill (and tyres) were more important and practice was
required to find the right way around. i only had 2 runs as richard and
i needed to head back to the city. my first was a (disappointing) 58.23
(8th), as i muffed the hairpin, and i improved this to 56.03 for my
second run (6th). as we left early, i don't know what the consolidated
times were. once again, richard with his very tidy lines, beat me and
recorded a 53-odd which was very quick (2nd). he was, however, the 1st
runner and so had the benefit of the traction of the grass, before it
cut up. fastest time was the vr-4 which was beautifully driven and
recorded a 51!
handling of the 20v ur-quattro.
although this was my 2nd experience of a "field" day, this was my first
of deliberate exploration of the outer limits of the ur-quattro's
handling, in the light of the infamous "bite" thread. (my previous
experience was much more cursory and involved only one "run", and some
"play" including a provoked spin in the paddock).
so anyway, i decided that i would engage in a series of full-power 2nd
gear turns and provoke the quattro to see what it did.
normal cornering with throttle and steering control was completely
uneventful, but, given some of the opinions on the list about the bite,
i knew that this would not be good enough for the doubters.
i next undertook the same turns and, once in the turns, took my hands
from the wheel! the car continued the turn with absolutley no drama
whatsoever. the steering wheel remained on lock, and the car tracked
without any drama whatever through the turn. i did this with my arms
folded to the bemusement of some of the spectators!
i managed later to execute perfect power slides (where my drivers window
was facing forward), *without* my hands on the wheel, simply by using
there was no "hunting", where rapid understeer and oversteer
combinations would cause the vehicle to adopt different cornering
attitudes. taking my hands from the wheel shows that the quattro was
tracking faithfully, and without any nervousness.
i then undertook the same manouevers (without my hands on the wheel),
but, after corner entry, lifted from the throttle. in these
circumstances, the wheel faithfully went to the straight-ahead position
and the car broadsided to a halt. a very easy and safe way to stop. i
repeated this a number of times.
at no time in the whole exercise, during the timed runs, or the
"exploration", did the quattro exhibit *any* untoward behaviour. at no
time was there a spin, and at no time was there any "hunting"
"u-o-u-o-u-o" turns (as have been suggested as normal behaviour by some
i only wish that i had done this sort of exercise earlier, and i would
have saved myself a hell of a lot of time on this thread.
i would also repeat my (and others) plea to the doubters to drive some
different chassis, to further their experience and correct their
"physics". the bite (tm) does not occur on the ur-quattro.
to anyone and everyone else, i would firmly recommend this exercise as
a safe and easy method to learn the behaviour of your vehicle "in
overall, audi emerged with honour intact, but i found the drive to and
from more fun than the event itself.