The return of quattro to WRC is excellent news.
It's been a long time since Audi terrorized Group B WRC rallying with its famous Quattro S1 racecar, but the memories of the car and its noises are forever etched into the minds of those who saw Walter Rohrl and Michelle Mouton try to tame the beast. Thanks to the pioneering spirit of Ingolstadt's engineers way back then, the five-cylinder engine in the Audi RS3 can thank Audi's WRC escapades for its existence. Audi left the sport a long time ago, but in a way, that decision has been reversed, and we're beyond excited about it - especially when it could, just maybe, mean rally-inspired special editions in the future.
According to World Rally Championship's official website, former DTM racing veteran Mattias Ekstrom will be leading the effort, albeit not with the full support of Audi. Rather than convincing Audi to fund a works team, Ekstrom's newly formed KYB Team JC outfit is currently developing its own Quattro A1. This will be built to Rally2 specs, meaning that it won't compete in the premier class but rather WRC2 and WRC3. But with the right results, there's a good chance that sponsors could springboard the team to the main series, and who knows? Perhaps Audi will get behind this project with full force too.
Ekstrom says that "when the new generation of Audi A1 was launched, we knew we [wanted] to build something out of it, and since everyone knows my passion for rallying, it quickly became clear that we will build a rally car." The long-term plan is to do well on the rally stages and eventually offer multiple examples of the team's racecar for other teams to buy. Under the hood is a 1.6-liter turbo-four producing 263 horsepower, since regulations mean that fire-spitting five-pots aren't welcome in WRC anymore. Still, in a stunning but subdued white-and-yellow livery, this car is bringing all the best memories of the '80s back. All we need now is for Audi to see the value in rallying. It's unlikely, but we can dream.