Thursday | 04 Mar 2021

World-beating Audi Quattro set for WRC comeback

Audi’s legendary Quattro could return to the FIA World Rally Championship in a new project spearheaded by motorsport world champion Mattias Ekström.

Ekström’s newly-formed EKS JC team is developing a Rally2-specification Quattro A1, which would be suitable for the WRC2 and WRC3 support categories.

The car has been built to FIA regulations in co-operation with South African company Rally Technic and the team confirmed it would be eligible for WRC competition.

“When the new generation of Audi A1 was launched, we knew we want to build something out of it,” said Ekström. “And since everyone knows my passion for rallying, it quickly became clear that we will build a rally car,”

“The car is ready. It’s just the set-up work left. We need to do some test kilometres 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.

Ekström has long-been associated with Audi in motorsport. He drove an S1 in the FIA World Rallycross Championship from 2014 to 2019. He won the title in 2016 and finished runner-up the following two seasons.

The Swede made a WRC return at last weekend’s Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox after almost 15 years away. He finished fifth in WRC3 in a Škoda Fabia.

The four-wheel drive Quattro A1 has a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine which puts out 263bhp and is paired with a five-speed sequential gearbox.

EKS JC team manager Joel Christoffersson said testing would begin on snow and gravel before switching to asphalt.

“Former FIA Junior WRC champion Emil Bergkvist will be our development driver and we will start our testing sessions in the near future. We also plan to enter some local or international rallies in 2021 season,” he explained.

Rally Technic director Chris Coertsee spoke about his enthusiasm for the project. “The Rally2 kit provides a unique price-performance balance for competitors, but in this case, it is also combined with a legendary brand and a glorious body kit.”

Audi revolutionised rallying in the early 1980s with its turbocharged four-wheel drive Quattro. When the fire-breathing Group B era was introduced in 1982, the 370bhp A1 was soon at the forefront of the new generation.

It made its WRC debut in 1983 at Rallye Monte-Carlo but only started four rallies as a works car before it was succeeded by the A2 version. Hannu Mikkola drove it to wins in Sweden and Portugal and went onto win the drivers’ world title that season.

Audi and its Quattro departed the WRC as a factory team in 1987 after scoring 24 wins from 58 rallies. The Quattro remains as probably the most important rally car in WRC history.