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Thanh to all at Omicron Engineering

'The Quattro doesn't give you the same instant, intense hit as the Stratos. It's a slow burner'

Chris Harris sits alongside rallying legend Walter Rohrl. The A2 Quattro won eight world rallies in l983/'84

What's it like inside the rallying Quattro and Stratos when the men who drove them to victory

086 ao.co.uk t's only when Walter and the Quattro are fully-lit, him applying corrective lock at 90mph on a narrow, vertiginous road somewhere in the French Alps, that you remember how old he is. This bloke is now 63. His reactions and the speed and accuracy of all his inputs make that seem quite improbable, but Walter Rohrl is clearly one of those freaks who remain immune to the ravages of time He still keeps very lit, spending hours on his beloved mountain bikes ever;' week.

We're hallway up the Col de Turini and Walter, wearing his Audi PR hat along with his Porsche racing overalls, has been giving rhese rides for three whole days. The car is an A2 from 1983. Quattros from '81 and '82 were fairly standard machines, but the A2 marked the beginning of the crazy development period that continued till 1986. Its in-line five used a cast-aluminium block that saved 23kg and as many of the body parts as possible were made from Kevlar. The result was a kerb weight not far north of 1000kg and Walter smirks at Audi's claims of 265bhp and 3321b ft: 'Somewhere between 300 and 350bhp I would say.'

He twists a key and fires the motor, which settles to a pretty lumpy idle. The sound is still the same: unmistakably Quattro. Wisps of burnt oil filter into the cabin. He flicks a few dash toggles, glances over the super-clear VDO analogue instruments, grips what must be the most beautiful steering wheel ever made and then, curiously, fiddles with his left cuff.

Above a crawl, from inside, the five-cylinder signature sound is lost - you can barely

Chris Harris sits alongside rallying legend Walter Rohrl. The A2 Quattro won eight world rallies in l983/'84

decipher that familiar thrum through the clatter of gearbox and gravel pinging into the whcelarchcs, but the whoosh-chirp of the KICK turbo is unmissable. But it's hard to assess noise as you peer into the footwell of a car -1 am mesmerised by the man's dancing feet. Boost comes strong from around 4000rpm, but the power-band is quite narrow. You forget how much busier drivers were with three pedals, a gearstick and unhelpful power deliver)'. All the time the Quattro wants to understeer (was there ever a rally machine with its engine so far forward?) and Rohrl battles that front axle with a mixture of left-foot and gas.

Near the end of the stage he pushes hard, all the time balancing that need to work through the Quattro's inherent understeer with a deftness that avoids too much angle. It all feels so smooth, so effortless, so easy. We reach the end of the stage with a small sideways flourish. Again, he fiddles with his left cuff.

He's 63, with two world championships under his belt, several global awards for being the best rally driver that ever lived (those who really understand the sport are still in awe of his raw speed) and was once referred to by Niki Lauda as 'a genius'. Yet he still times himself. That's commitment to the cause. Chris Harris

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