Seeing a classic car driven for the very first time is a pretty unique experience but that's what happened at the Eifel Rallye when double world rally champion Walter Rohrl drove Audi's insane looking Group S concept. There were 18km on the clock before it was pushed out of the transport truck but Walter thinks that it's because the odometer came from another car. Since it was put together as a Group S feasibility study sometime in late 1985 or early 1986 it has never turned a wheel.
Audi pre-empted the banning of the Group B supercars by pulling out on safety grounds after the Portuguese rally and so the Group S project was cancelled and this car was supposed to have been destroyed. Fortunately some Ingolstad employees had the foresight to store it safely away until a few years ago, when interest in such mythical cars warranted a team of mechanics setting themselves the task of getting it running again.
All the belts, oils were changed, so too any hoses, wires or pipes that showed any signs of corrosion but nothing too extensive needed doing apart from the engine management system. In the intervening years all the plans of the electrical systems had been lost so Bosch had the complicated task of reverse engineering the ECU for the de-tuned and de-boosted S1 E2 engine.
For its very first public outing there was of course no one better suited to be behind the wheel than Rohrl who was part of the works effort at the time the car was being built, although he never saw it in period. “No one told me anything about the car, just to be careful because they wanted it back in one piece,” he says. “The first impression I had was how well it turned into corners. The S1 had the engine really far over the front axle so it understeered a lot but this one felt really light. When the engineers told me it was just 750 kg I was really impressed… but I don't think the FIA would have allowed such a light car to compete.”
The car generated such interest that it will definitely been seen at more classic events in the future and the better it gets set up the faster it can be driven!