Audi V8 quattro
We know Audi were good on the rally circuit in the 80s, but when they entered the DTM racing championship in 1990, they definitely entered it in style. At the time, the majority of DTM cars were much smaller – so entering a long 4.8m luxury V8 saloon was unheard of. It was a gamble that eventually paid off though, as Audi managed to secure two DTM titles.
Frank Biela (pictured above) reminisces, ‘I was thunderstruck as I drove it for the first time at Vallelunga. The power steering was so good I could have driven around the circuit with one hand on the steering wheel. The car was incredibly easy to drive and in a league of its own.’
Audi 80 quattro
After the Audi V8 quattro was declared illegal in 1992, the team had to come back in 1993 with a car that not only met the new FIA Class 1 guidelines, but a car that was capable of winning again. Audi stuck with the idea of the saloon car, but gave it a bit of a makeover by adding massive wheel arches and aggressive-looking accessories.
However, due to new rulings by the DTM organisers, the prototype was pulled from the competition never to race. The Audi 80 quattro DTM still exists today, but we wouldn’t see an Audi race in the DTM for six years.
Fast forward to the year 2000 when Audi sort of re-joined the competition. The team raced with an Abt-Audi TT-R, but were actually represented by Team Abt Sportsline.
The championship had returned with yet more new rules, the most notable being the ban of all-wheel drive – something Audi is very well known for excelling in. In fact, they had won all seven national championships they entered with all-wheel-drive, which may have had something to do with the rule change. Nevertheless, Audi left the competing to Team Abt Sportsline, who had to make do with rear-wheel drive which presented challenges against some of the other teams in its first couple of seasons. The car did have some success though, considering the small scale of the team.
Finally, Audi’s time had come. Audi Sport had re-joined the DTM competition officially and between 2004 and 2011, the team were racing a number of different A4 DTM vehicles. During this time, the A4 was a roaring success as the team had won three manufacturers’ and five drivers’ championships.
One of the A4 DTM star drivers, Ekstrom remembers his favourite opponents: ‘Jean Alesi and Gary Paffett at Mercedes-Benz, with whom I had fantastic dogfights, and not forgetting my team-mate Tom Kristensen. There were qualifying sessions during which we fought tooth and nail for every hundredth of a second. Tom was always up for a fight. Then it was extremely tough!’
When the RS 5 debuted alongside British driver Jamie Green, 2019 was a year to remember for Audi. Not only did all three of their drivers take the top three championship spots, Audi also won the manufacturers’ award by a staggering 582 points. Something the team aspires to beat when the 2020 returns in August.