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Audi Rally/Race History

Audi's Rally/Race History

Audi's Rally/Race History

This isn't exactly the easiest decision as it's hard to overlook the fact that prior to the Audi brand there were the progenitors. Among them the Volkswagen brand and NSU had their own sporty and race-worthy vehicles but let's try to gloss over it for the moment and, if need be, reference where and when appropriate!

Here we go!

Racing has long been a part of human civilization, from the time when chariots were dragged forward by horses to the invention of the combustion engine and right up to modern day. Motorsports, it can be argued, owe much of their present popularity to the early 20th century when the automotive revolution was experiencing a worldwide reach and innovation came in progressive bursts.

Among those who were present at the beginning it's not surprising to hear names like August Horch and Ferdinand Porsche were, even then, well recognized for their design and development talents. In reality, however, we find that there is a veritable surplus of details regarding the first prearranged match between two self-powered road vehicles.

A Race that Started an Automotive Revolution

This occurred, specifically, in 1867 at 4:30 AM on August 30th, the race was set between Ashton-under-Lyne and Old Trafford, expressed as a distance of 8 miles. Among the six involved, the winner's carriage owed by Isaac Watt Boulton and operated by his son, James, is certainly one for the history books.

It wouldn't be until the Wisconsin legislature passed in 1875 that the first US motor race launched a now-lucrative business. Back then, though, it was often less about a simple track or complex course, rather, it was about distance with the aforementioned race taking place over a 200 mile course.

This shadows in comparison when you consider the fact that the 1907 Peking to Paris race was established and remains to be the longest-distance race in history, covering 22,000 miles with the winner crossing the finish line after 169 days.

Audi's Foray into the Realm of Racing

The early 20th century automotive advancements were commonplace, with introductions of vehicles capable of producing up to 603 horsepower within only a few decades, and while regulations came into place that limited weight, this simply emphasized the need for more effective use of materials such as aluminium.

Still, we look to the first indication of rally-style racing coming into existence at this same period, specifically pointing to the Monte Carlo Rally in January 1911. Though, arguably the specific date is somewhat fogged over given the fact that Marcel Renault was, effectively, rallying as early as 1903 and Le Petit Journal, a Paris newspaper that sponsored a race from Paris to Rouen in 1894.

Right, we were talking about Audi and to do that effectively we need to leap forward almost a century.

In 1978, Audi opened their Audi Sport Department and took the steps required to start designing a competitive vehicle to use across motorsport platforms. In 1979 the first win came at the Trifels Rally. Testing, designing and development continued and in 1980, Audi revealed and introduced their first Audi Quattro vehicle by utilizing a turbocharged 2.1-litre five-cylinder engine in a highly remodeled family sedan. By 1983 the Audi name was already well-recognized in the rallying industry, taking the World Rally Championship title that same year.

In many ways, by allowing Audi's unconventional four-wheel drive model into their circuit, the international governing body FISA opened the proverbial floodgates and with pressure from other manufacturers changed the regulation to allow Group B cars to enter the competition.

Unfortunate circumstances in 1986 reversed this decision.

Still, the presence in the motorsport scene continued and in 1987, Walter Röhrl took the record for Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with an Audi S1 model. This marked the beginning of Audi's "S" cars.

By 1989, Audi had pivoted away from the rallying segment and into circuit racing, super touring, and various other endurance-related events, amassing a significant reputation for their competitive edge and consistent wins across the board.

To learn more about Audi and its history come down to Audi Langley and let our experts tell you more about our fantastic brand!