Friday favourite: The "4WD limo" that stunned a DTM star

When Audi introduced its 90 Quattro to IMSA's GTO class in 1989, it made a powerful if brief impression fitting for its impressive engine. When 2011 DTM champion Martin Tomczyk got to drive it in a demo run, he was blown away

Friday favourite: The "4WD limo" that stunned a DTM star

During his 16-year stint in the DTM, Martin Tomczyk raced title-winning machinery from Audi and BMW, taking the crown himself in 2011. He even sampled the R15 LMP1 racer in an evaluation test at Vallelunga, though missed out on getting the chance to race it at Le Mans, and also tested a 2011 Red Bull RB7 Formula 1 car at the Red Bull Ring in 2016.

But it’s another storied member of Audi’s back catalogue, that he only ever got to drive in a demo run at Misano, that Tomczyk singles out as his favourite car.

Tomczyk regularly had opportunities to drive classic machinery at events, and the four-wheel-drive Audi 90 Quattro IMSA GTO raced by Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck during the 1989 season made a huge impression.

The 710bhp beast’s tenure was brief – having been forced out of Trans-Am when 4WD was banned, the new-for-1989 90 Quattro only raced for one year before Audi elected to pull out and focus its efforts on the DTM. Stuck finished third, despite Audi skipping the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours while the car was developed, and claimed seven wins in all.

“They smoked everyone!” says Tomczyk. “Nobody believed that a 4WD limousine will win any race down there. They built this massive, wide thing, and they just came and smoked them.”

Tomczyk recalls the car was “just mind-blowing” behind the wheel.

“I fell completely in love with this car, it was just incredibly great to drive,” says Tomczyk, who now heads up the organisation of the DTM's GT4-based support series, DTM Trophy.

PLUS: The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics 

“It was 4WD, H-pattern gearbox, turbocharger and about 700 horsepower. Man, this thing is just a rocket!”

Tomczyk was particularly taken with the engine power of the Audi 90 quattro

Tomczyk was particularly taken with the engine power of the Audi 90 quattro

Photo by: David Hutson / Motorsport Images

Despite being warned beforehand of its value and advised to take care, Tomczyk said he couldn’t resist letting rip with the 2.2-litre, five-cylinder turbo-charged engine.

“You’re a race driver, so what do you do when you jump in a race car?” he says rhetorically. “Man, you push that thing until the limit and you really enjoy it, so I did as well!

"When I went out of the pits and I floored it, nothing came. And then the turbo kicked in with the four-wheel-drive and the pop-off valve. When you shifted down, it was whistling and blowing – just incredible" Martin Tomczyk

“The noise was just incredible. It had one exhaust on the side, flames shooting out for one or two metres.

“With the turbo [at first] there was nothing. When I went out of the pits and I floored it, nothing came. And then the turbo kicked in with the four-wheel-drive and the pop-off valve. When you shifted down, it was whistling and blowing – just incredible.”

Tomczyk says the car required a lot of accuracy to drive properly, but reckons he would have been comfortable racing it having learned to left-foot brake when the DTM switched to paddleshift gearboxes for 2012.

“That helped me in that old car,” he explains. “It was heel-and-toe driving and blipping, and the H-pattern I knew already from Formula 3 [in 2000].

“It was really cool, and I would love to drive it again because it was great. But you had to blip to get this gear in, and you had to blip it in the right time with the right amount just to get it smoothly in.”

The 90 quattro had a brief competition history, but impressed in the hands of Hans-Joachim Stuck and Hurley Haywood

The 90 quattro had a brief competition history, but impressed in the hands of Hans-Joachim Stuck and Hurley Haywood

Photo by: David Hutson / Motorsport Images

shares
comments
The Olympian who beats brain damage to race for Hyundai
Previous article

The Olympian who beats brain damage to race for Hyundai

Next article

Acura reveals teaser images of its 2023 LMDh contender for IMSA

Acura reveals teaser images of its 2023 LMDh contender for IMSA
How MSR took Acura to the first win of sportscar racing's new era Plus

How MSR took Acura to the first win of sportscar racing's new era

After much anticipation, the new dawn for sportscar racing got underway with a result that mirrored last year's IMSA SportsCar Championship's season-opener run to the previous DPi rules. Here's how Acura once again took top honours in the Daytona 24 Hours with a 1-2 led by Meyer Shank Racing, as the new GTP class for LMDh hybrid prototypes made its bow

IMSA
5 h
The big question concerning IMSA's new LMDh cars on their debut Plus

The big question concerning IMSA's new LMDh cars on their debut

The new LMDh era finally begins in earnest this weekend with the IMSA SportsCar Championship curtain-raiser at Daytona. The prospect of multiple marques going all guns blazing for victory over 24 hours is a salivating one for fans of sportscar racing, but what are the chances of the new hybrid machines (known as GTP cars Stateside) proving reliable enough to win on debut?

IMSA
Jan 27, 2023
Inside BMW's long-awaited prototype racing return Plus

Inside BMW's long-awaited prototype racing return

Much like German OEM rival Porsche, BMW's absence from sportscar racing’s top flight will be ended this weekend when a pair of M Hybrid V8 prototypes make their debut in the Daytona 24 Hours. A programme focused on the IMSA SportsCar Championship for now will expand to the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans next year, in a sign of both its ambition and pragmatism

IMSA
Jan 26, 2023
How Porsche and Penske are gearing up for sportscar racing's bold new era Plus

How Porsche and Penske are gearing up for sportscar racing's bold new era

Porsche and Penske have teamed up to tackle the world's biggest sportscar races in 2023 with the new 963 LMDh car. Autosport was on hand at the recent Daytona test to hear from key players in the partnership as it prepares for dual campaigns across the IMSA SportsCar Championship and World Endurance Championship

IMSA
Jan 5, 2023
The plug in and play stand-ins who got their timing just right Plus

The plug in and play stand-ins who got their timing just right

Nyck de Vries’s Italian GP exploits weren’t the first post-eleventh-hour call-up in motorsport history, and won’t be the last either. Here are some offbeat tales from the past

General
Dec 26, 2022
The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age Plus

The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age

The organisers of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship worked together to devise the popular new LMDh rule set. But to turn it from an idea into reality, some serious compromises were involved - both from the prospective LMDh entrants and those with existing Le Mans Hypercar projects...

IMSA
Nov 25, 2022
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Plus

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, were voted as Autosport's greatest sportscar in 2020 - here's why

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Plus

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022