Audi A4 Touring Car

Fielding an all-wheel drive Audi in the BTCC gave it the notoriety it deserved. It also got 4WD cars banned from entering ever again.

Touring Car racing has had its fair share of ups and downs, but in the late Nineties, it was at its peak. And Audi was only too keen to showcase its quattro technology against top-grade competition. In 1996, the firm entered A4 quattro models in the British, Belgian, Spanish, Australian and South African Touring Car series – and won them all!

For its part, the BTCC was enjoying the most competitive period in its history, with no fewer than nine factory teams taking part in 1996. And the two A4s of Audi Sport UK were the only four-wheel-drive entries.

Driven by German legend Frank Biela, who already had Italian and German Touring Car titles to his name, and British newcomer John Bintcliffe, the A4 was so successful that by the seventh round of the series the four-wheel-drive cars had been given a weight penalty to slow them down.

This didn’t stop Biela from taking the title, and on several occasions wet conditions highlighted the benefits of four-wheel drive to the huge crowds. With the help of their extra traction, the A4s excelled in these tricky conditions. Audi Sport UK returned to the series in 1997 and 1998, but with further penalties and the subsequent banning of four-wheel drive, it never took the title again.

The A4’s unique technical approach and resulting speed advantage meant it was almost too successful for its own good, and the rules were changed to stop its dominance. Even so, the brief appearance of quattro technology in such a high-profile race series did a huge amount of good for Audi’s image.

The beautiful silver and red liveried A4 remains a favourite with touring car fans today. Powered by a four-cylinder 305bhp 2.0-litre engine, the A4 had a sequential six-speed gearbox and weighed only 1,070Kg. A touring car legend that triumphed in the toughest of series, the saloon allowed Audi Sport Germany to move on to its next challenge – and incredible success in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Details

WHY: Audi's Quattro driven A4 changed Touring Car racing forever

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