Audi first came to the North American circuit racing through the Trans-Am Championship in 1988 with their 200 Quattro model taking eight wins as well as the championship in their first year with what could have been called the “unfair advantage” also known as the Quattro four-wheel drive system.
After upsetting the Trans-Am officials as well as team and drivers and being pushed out of the championship through a specific rule banning all-wheel drive system for 1989, Audi departed and focused on the rival championship known as the IMSA Camel GT Championship with the Audi 90 IMSA GTO.
Well, the Audi wasn’t really a production based car as the IMSA GTO rules permitted the use of purpose-built racers using a silhouette body to look like their production equivalent although it did retain the original production roof of the car. Bodywork was made of lightweight composites. Chassis was made of a steel tubular space-frame holding their Quattro system sourced from the Group B rally cars. Suspension were simple with double wishbones design, coil springs and brakes with discs at all four corners.
The engine being sourced from the group B rally cars, the mighty and noisy all-aloy straight-five engine using a displacement of 2200cc turbocharged through a big KKK turbo was back but on track this time. Interesting was that the whole engine sat forward from the front-axle line. The engine provided more than 700HP and 720Nm of torque and was mated to a six-speed gearbox with only five-speed retained as written in the rulebook. Seeing those figures, the Quattro system was a good help, but interesting were the size of the wheels with 14inch wide wheels fitted at the four corners..!
All in all, the Audi IMSA GTO car proved a great concept, the Quattro system provided the best traction possible at any point and with the help of the massive tyres and wheels used, the tyre wear was much better than the opposition known as the Nissan 300Zs of Cunningham Racing and the Roush Mercury Cougars. A longer lasting package, that sums it up.
Opposed to the Trans-Am effort ran by Group 44 Inc, this time Audi relied on Audi of America to run its campaign in the IMSA Camel GT Championship, Trans-Am champion Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck were retained as in the previous year. Scott Goodyear and Walter Röhrl were their co-drivers for the endurance races. Unfortunate is that development took quite a long time and the team sat out of the 24 Hours of Daytona as well as the Sebring 12 Hours that same year. It was debuted at the Miami Grand Prix 45′ min race but both cars failed to finish due to an accident and gearbox failure. From round four, the car proved successful with Stuck and Haywood scoring a one-two finish. H-J Stuck would score six more wins in the nine following races. Sad is that it lost the championship to Pete Halsmer and the Mercury Cougar…
The project was initially planned as a two-year effort but after 1989, Audi decided to switch its focus on the prestigious DTM championship for 1990 and the project was canned. It looked set to dominate but it never happened !
What the competition saw for most of the year..!
But anyway, the Quattro system would be a feature of their DTM V8 car that following year and on many others. An “unfair advantage” which proved quite successful looking at all the championship claimed with the technology..!