While the vocal majority whines about NASCAR and Formula 1 being shadows of their respective former selves, the World Rally Championship has kept on the right path. It's a simple formula—way-too-powerful cars drive way-too-fast on way-too-tight backroads covered with ice, sand, and mud. The main thing that'd make it better is if all the legendary manufacturers came to play with Ford and the like.
Luckily, Audi seems to be heeding the call with a likely WRC return that should include the vaunted Quattro nameplate attached to a flame-spitting A1 hatchback.
According to WRC's official website, the effort is set to be spearheaded by Mattias Ekstrom, a massively accomplished racing driver who competed in DTM for nearly two decades. His newly formed EKS JC team is developing a Quattro A1 to Rally2 specs, which means it'd compete in the WRC2 and WRC3 support series—not the main stage. Still, it's a start that could prove to be a launching pad for future projects.
“When the new generation of Audi A1 was launched, we knew we [wanted] to build something out of it,” said Ekstrom in an official release. “And since everyone knows my passion for rallying, it quickly became clear that we will build a rally car."
At first, the Quattro A1 will be run solely by the EKS JC squad. However, Ekstrom explained that the plan is to offer multiple examples for customer teams to purchase later on.
“The car is ready," Ekstrom continued. "It’s just the set-up work left. We need to do some test kilometers and gather the information. There is no real set date for it, but it is quite clear we will see the car in some competitions in spring/summer."
“For now, this car is just for our own use, but when we will be satisfied with its performance, we will offer it for rent or purchase to other competitors,” he added.
With a 263-horsepower, turbocharged inline-four measuring 1.6 liters, it's a bit different than the heavily boosted inline-fives of former Audi Quattro glory. Still, that should be plenty to power out of Scandinavian Flicks and hit triple-digit speeds between each crest and curve.
For a primer on the car, check out EKS JC's video of it dressed in a familiar yellow-and-white livery.
The original Audi S1 Quattro finished its works-operated career in 1987 with 24 wins to its credit. Mind you, those all came in just 58 rallies—not a bad percentage there.
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