Toppled Records - 1985 Audi Sport Quattro S1 'Pikes Peak'
Starting in 1984, Audi had completely revamped the motoring world by creating the first accessible car with an all-wheel drive drivetrain fitted to it, the Audi Sport Quattro. This Quattro was obviously first utilized in motorsport, making a name for itself on the inherently crazy world of Group B rallying. Sadly, Group B came to a drastic end after a series of tragic events, such as Henty Toivonen and Sergio Cresto, tragically dying after their car went off track and caught on fire. The Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile took very concise decisions based on these events: They prohibited the homologation of more Group B machinery and also disallowed Group B racing in rally events for 1987. Audi quickly decided to pull out of the wonderful, albeit dangerous Group B races by the end of 1986, also stopping development of a mid-engined Quattro.
After the tragic events of Group B, Audi had to find a new place to test their revised Quattro, intended to compete with the new mid-engined cars from the likes of Lancia and Metro. They found their proving grounds in the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb in American soil.
Only one car was utilized for the hillclimb, this one being chassis 85ZGA905020, the twentieth and last Quattro Sport S1 built. Many modifications were made to adapt the already very capable car for the demanding race. The monocoque chassis was replaced by an all-new spaceframe construction, the brakes were now watercooled and a double stack spoiler was fitted, together with a new splitter that had some of the “snowplower” cues from previous years. Last but not least, the suspension was updated to a double wishbone setup all around the car.
Improvements didn’t end in the handling department, because as years came and went, so did the horsepower figure in the Quattro. Originally rated at 350hp for the ‘boggo’ 1984 Quattro, power then rose to a much higher 540hp for the Sport Quattro S1 in 1985. Those numbers seem small when compared to the increase in power the Pikes Peak version received. With an official number of 598hp, the power increase doesn’t seem much, but as factory driver Walter Röhrl stated in an interview, the car actually had 750hp and the throttle was ‘’Like an on/off switch”. The reason for that “on/off switch” feel was because Ingolstadt’s engineers found a way to eliminate the turbo lag and the subsequent low-end grunt that came with it: Feeding fuel directly into the turbo to keep the turbine spinning, even when Röhrl wasn’t on the throttle.
After retiring the car from the madness Group B was, Audi shipped the S1 Quattro to Pikes Peak in 1984. It then would be raced by Michèle Mouton (FRA) in both the 1984 and 1985 editions, in both cases, Mouton would make history: She was the first woman to ever win the hillclimb, and she’d also beat the record for the fastest completion of the 12.4 mile long trail. Audi wanted more of the Pikes Peak cake, and so they re-entered for the 1986 race, with driver Bobby Unser (USA) in charge of blasting the S1 to the top of the mountain. Unser wouldn’t break any records, although he did take the victory for the 5th time in a row for Audi.
The farewell in Audi’s rallying adventure was given by Walter Röhrl in the 1987 presentation of the race. He drove the S1 from the bottom of the mountain to the top in a record-shattering 10:47.850, shedding 22 seconds off the previous record set by Mouton two years ago.
The S1 iteration of the Sport Quattro was the final straight in the development of the 'urQuattro' platform, eventually outperformed by the likes of mid-engined racers.
The races at Pikes Peak with the Sport Quattro served as a magnificent farewell to Audi’s adventure in the world of rally racing, and the history they made with it can still be seen in today’s rallies. They were the first ones to successfully utilize all-wheel-drive in motorsport and road going cars. If that wasn't enough, the Quattro was one of the (If not, the most) powerful rally cars to ever blast down a gravel course.
This was Drivetriber Agus Garcia, and until then, peace out.