Back in the mid-Eighties, the Group B days, there was a video floating around about the series and Audi’s involvement. Chances are that you have seen bits of it that are now mashed-up with other stuff in modern YouTube videos. The flick featured lots of incredibly cheesy 80s Euro synth tunes and fantastic footage of the most fearsome cars ever built, complete with flames and jumps. Also on tap was a decent amount of in car footage, something we didn’t see too often at that time.
There was one particular scene that featured the fancy footwork of one Walter Rohrl. That scene is what taught me how to left foot brake, heel and toe downshift and the near dead art of double clutching. I pretty much wore out the VHS tape because I watched it so many times. It was great footage for the time, but modern action cameras are so much better than what we have now.
Ride along with Polish rally driver Josef Beres during a hill climb last year in his Audi S1 Quattro Group B car. While we don’t see any foot action, the sound is utterly fantastic and gives a small glimpse into what it must have been like to rally these monsters back in the day.
Audi might have a few tricks up its sleeve for the coming years, with the Brits at Autocar uncovering a pair of patent filings made by the German luxury brand. The first is something we’ve seen before – wheel flaps – while the second is an evolution of one of Audi’s trademark technologies.
We last saw wheel flaps on the Ford Atlas Concept in 2013, but the futuristic fuel-saving tech has so far failed to arrive on a production car. Audi may be seeking to change that, patenting the flaps that open and close automagically based on airflow. They can also open if the brakes get too hot.
The second patent is an evolution of Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive. The new AWD system uses an electrically driven rear axle and wheel sensors to figure out when and at which corner the car might lose traction, and is targeted largely at hybrid offerings, which is a field Audi has only recently dipped its toe into.
In a hybrid, when the electric motor attempts to capture energy through the regenerative brakes, it can cause the wheels to brake too suddenly. That’s because brake forces on current regen systems are fixed. The new system would allow more variety in the braking force, meaning that not only would the car be more stable, we could also stop complaining about ultra-grabby regenerative brakes.
Both of these technologies strikes as full of potential. Were we the gambling sort, we’d wager that the wheel flaps have a fairly realistic chance of making production at some point. The new AWD system seems more ambitious, although as it’s Audi’s forte, we like the chances of it arriving at some point in the future.
Although it may not have the brand recognition that Mercedes-AMG does or BMW’s M division, Audi’s Quattro GmbH department is responsible for its most exciting products – including the RS line of performance models and the R8 supercar. For the past year and a half, Quattro GmbH has been led by Franciscus van Meel, but soon it will get a new leader.
According to reports, van Meel (46, pictured right) is being reassigned to head up the Audi R&D center in Beijing. In his place, Audi is promoting Heinz Peter Hollwerweger (60, pictured above) to the post. The move is expected to be confirmed in advance of the Geneva Motor Show, at which point we can expect Audi to claim that it was part of a planned rotation. However sources suggest that van Meel’s departure came at the behest of R&D boss Ulrich Hackenberg, who was apparently unhappy with how van Meel has been handling development of the next R8 and of the R8 E-Tron project.
Why Hackenberg would have van Meel reassigned to run one of his own R&D centers is beyond us, but Hollerweger is apparently expected to be able to get the job done faster and better. Whether he’ll have any major changes in store for the Quattro division and its products is another matter, but we’re looking forward to finding out.