The Audi Quattro and its successor, the S1, were cars that defined the excess of rallying in the mid-eighties. With its signature five cylinder shriek and turbo chatter, the Audi soundtrack left an indelible mark on the public, and despite an inefficient weight distribution, cornered well thanks to its aerodynamic strengths. Well, that is to say, it would handle well once the driver managed to transfer the weight effectively.
Walter Rohrl initially found the Audi unruly but quickly learned to left-foot brake to help keep the turbo spooled and the front tires loaded. Since the motor was placed in front of the axle and longitudinally mounted, the nose-heavy layout made terminal understeer a constant threat. Less willing to turn in that some of its more compact competitors, the S1 was something that required a bit of manhandling to turn. As a result, it put on an awesome spectacle when driven properly.
As seen here at the 1985 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland, the Audi squirms and writhes across the dirt road in efforts to deploy all 500+ horsepower. With every slow to medium-speed bend, the driver prods the brake strongly to rotate the car into the corner and then utilizes the four wheel-drive grip to try and harness all the grunt. It does so very well, but still looks to be quite an edgy car with so much thrust available.
The S1 helped pioneer aerofoils in modern rallying, and their effects can be seen. Despite the understanding of aerodynamics being relatively unsophisticated in the mid-eighties, they managed to generate considerable amounts of downforce, which can be seen in some of the faster sections. The wild Audi seems more composed the faster it goes, thanks to those generous wings and splitters. For better or worse, it’s striking how different rallying has become in recent years.