The be-all and end-all – AUDI QUATTRO RALLY CAR MANUAL

To create an engineering phenomenon in motor sport requires a significant budget. Those funds not only built the cars but also fed, clothed, transported and cared for the small army of engineers, team members, drivers, co-drivers, medics, physiotherapists, PR people and sundry others who travelled as a team to each and every event. Those millions were sourced from Audi’s global marketing coffers, which meant that every penny spent had to deliver a clear and measurable benefit in the sales figures.
The Audi Quattro was designed as a road car to reinvent the oft-overlooked firm that had never once, in its first 70 years, won the same renown as the giants in Germany’s automotive world. The rally cars by extension had to create the image of Audi – and while the team laboured to get the cars competitive and reliable enough to conquer the competition, so did the marketing team have to work hard to turn those results into showroom success.
David Ingram was at the helm of Audi’s marketing campaign in one of the most important territories that it set out to conquer: Great Britain. A passionate believer in the power of motor sport to enhance his brand’s image, the revolutionary new four-wheel-drive GT and its all-star rally team were quite simply a gift from the gods.
‘Quattro was the start of so much for us, really,’ Ingram said. ‘The cars up to that point were very high quality but very conventional, then suddenly we had a four-wheel-drive car, which previously was really only associated with agriculture, and it was a turbocharged GT car. From that we then had the aerodynamics and the 0.33 drag coefficient on the 100 and all of these things sort of came together in very short order to make people sit up and think “well, this Audi brand is actually quite interesting!”
‘Much of that credit, of course, belongs with Dr Piech,’ David Ingram added. ‘He couldn’t or didn’t want to stay at Porsche and Audi was somewhere very open-minded that supported the technical development boss with all of these unusual things that he was coming up with. It all had to get Volkswagen’s sign-off but it brought the brand from nowhere, and we wouldn’t have been credible selling the stuff that Audi does today without having developed it in motor sport. It gave us credibility and excitement about the technology in a way that you would struggle to achieve in any other way.’
That the Quattro rally cars were a means to a much bigger end than collecting silverware was something that every member of the teams understood. Whatever their day-to-day role was in competition, in the design or fabrication of the cars or in managing the team’s fortunes on event, every single member of the squad knew that they were working for Audi’s commercial success.
Phil Short was a respected competitor in his own right; a highly skilled co-driver who also took responsibility for planning the servicing of the teams competing on the world championship. ‘Audi Sport as a team was technology-led simply because of the advantage that the car had, so it was ruled primarily by engineers, Roland Gumpert and Co., so that was the focus,’ he said.
‘But the whole idea of Audi going rallying was to show their technical prowess: Vorsprung durch Technik.’
Little details like fitting the cars with the same wheels as the road cars and using equipment from the same suspension company all underlined the confidence of Audi’s engineers as much as it supported the marketing drive. Once the cars left the factory, however, the fortunes of the Quattro and Audi’s bid for glory fell squarely upon the men and women who were facing very different realities and challenges to those in the boardroom and marketing meetings. They were out there getting things done in the heat of competition.

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