Audi’s five-cylinder 2144cc turbocharged 200 quattro would not be many people’s first choice as a potent rally car, so why is it being campaigned in the British Open?
According to Edward Rowe of Audi Sport, there was not, in fact, a great deal of choice. As the Coupé used in 1987 went out of production at the end of the year, there was very little point in promoting a model that was unavailable to the public; likewise the turbocharged Quattro which ceased production in June this year.
Looking at the rest of the range, the next obvious choice was the 90 quattro, but that has only just been built in sufficient numbers for homologating. The car available in Italy, of less than 2-litre capacity for Italian taxation purposes, is not available on the British market, nor is the 2.3-litre German model which Audi UK is keen to use, as it is only available with catalysers. David Sutton Motorsport would be very keen to develop the 90 in the same way as Radaelli of Italy and Schmidt of Austria are doing, but is reluctant to go against Audi policy decisions.
With Audi AG not running its own rally team this year it has been very much a case of a three-way development between DSM, Lehmann (its engine builders in Liechtenstein) and Audi Sport UK in Milton Keynes. If Audi AG had been doing its own development, it is likely that the work would have been much more advanced and there would have been none of the engine problems which have troubled the team this year. The power output is still a long way behind that of Cosworth and Mitsubishi, but is big enough for the four-wheel drive to take advantage of.
1988 has been a difficult year for DSM, with comparatively limited resources to cope with a sudden change in the intercooler regulations. The interpretation of FISA’s rules prior to this year was that intercoolers could be modified, so all the turbocharged rally cars had very much larger intercoolers, and in some instances even extra cooling with water-jets which reduced the charge temperature and considerably increased the horsepower. But at the turn of the year, in response to enquiries, FISA stated that standard intercoolers, which were about three times smaller, had to be used. In Audi’s case, this meant that power dropped from just under 300 bhp to just over 200 bhp which, with a car the weight of the 200 quattro, was quite a handicap in terms of power-to-weight ratio.
According to John Bevan, chief engineer at DSM, “The engine department is a different ball game this year because of the different intercooler size permitted. We have had to do a lot of learning about how to get more power out of the engine with the smaller intercooler. It has become ales more critical because the intake charge is much hotter and so you are running right on the limit of the breathing capabilities of the fuel.
“We started the year with something like 220 bhp, and that was hopelessly uncompetitive. We are now back to 280 bhp, and in Wales it was at last reliable. There have been small but expensive detail changes, such as in the shape of the pistons and the cylinder heads, but within Group A you are fairly restricted as towhat you can do. The ratios in the gearbox have been changed, for we started the year on too low a ratio, which with that power output gave us some acceleration but the top speed on Cartel and Portugal was only 97 mph. It is now 119 mph.”
The car has a servo unit which works the clutch pedal, operated by a little button on the gear lever. This allows left-foot braking while staying on the accelerator.
In the suspension department, the team has found out what settings suit David Llewellin’s driving. Rim-widths are smaller than last year, so they have had to learn a few more tricks to get back to the right performance with different tyre-sizes. “We do not have the budget and time to do serious testing and development on the suspension,” says Bevan. “We found the Monte Carlo equipment the factory produced worked quite well for Ireland, while on the Welsh we played around with ride-heights. Although it was not the same height they had on the Safari, we used the same dampers and springs.”
The car itself, which is now Manx-registered, was that used by Walter Rohrl last year on the Hunsruck and the Drei Stadte rallies. It was then shipped to England to be stripped and rebuilt by Sutton’s men. It is an expensive car, the gearbox and Torsen centre differential alone costing around £32,000 for example, but according to Sutton’s men the “taxi” is still a potential winner. WPK