Monday, March 14, 2011

For the love of A: The Audi 90 IMSA GTO

Audi has spent the last 30 odd-years tirelessly working to perfect their Quattro all-wheel drive system in race environments. Along this lengthy and ongoing path of experimentation, several engineering gems have resulted from their efforts. From the infamous age of no (turbo boost) limit Group B Rally racing and the all mighty Audi Quattro S1, to later dominance in the mid-late 90's in Touring Car racing with the Audi A4 Quattro sedan. Audi's Quattro story is still being written, but for this post we'll focus on one of Audi's motorsport marvels which resulted from guidelines set by the IMSA GT Championship in 1989; the Audi 90 IMSA GTO.

Video courtesy of Smatty01.

The Audi 90 IMSA GTO entry was loosely based on the road car of the same name, the Audi 90. Well I guess 'loosely based' isn't fair to say, since they shared the same taillights. This track representative of the Audi factory was built on a tube chassis, coming in at under 2000 lbs, with upwards of 700+ hp from a 2.2 Litre inline five. When this car debuted in the 1989 International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) GT Championship, it was still a work in progress. After missing the first two races of the season, trial and error got the two car Audi team through the first few events; once the proverbial kinks were worked out, however, domination was an understatement.

Video hosting courtesy of obimeister.

Much like history repeating itself less than a decade later, with the Audi A4 Quattro in the British Touring Car Championship series (albeit after competing in more than a single season in the BTCC), IMSA determined all-wheel drive was an unfair advantage. So Audi's ace drivers Hans-Joachim Stuck and Hurley Haywood, who missed out on the 1989 IMSA GT Championship mainly due to DNFs early in the season, would not get a second chance to do so. It's nice to think of what would've been.