Audi IMSA S4 GTO to Debut at Shelsley Walsh

How does a turbocharged, five-cylinder Audi A4 with 720bhp and all the aero sound? Good, right? It’s a bit of luck then that for the first time, an Audi IMSA S4 GTO will be hooning up the Shelsley Walsh hill this weekend at the hands of racing legend Hans-Joachim Stuck – the first time he’s driven the car since 1992.

Not widely known, this S4 was developed off the back of unrivalled success in rallying thanks to the Quattro system. So sure was Audi that the technology had merit in other racing series’ and in road models (let’s face it, their assumption was right!) that they developed a number of cars for different racing types. Victory in the 1988 Trans Am Series in the USA with the imaginatively named Audi 200 Trans Am was the first on list. This was followed by more success in the 1989 SSCA IMSA (International Motor Sport Association) race series with its Audi 90 IMSA GTO.

So the story goes, Audi was looking to expand its horizons into the South African car market, and as we know doing well in a local race series can do all kinds of good things for car brands. Audi Sport South Africa (Voldi) made the suggestion that reworking the 90 IMSA GTO to run in the local Westbank Modified Race Series (WMS) might be a good move. As it was, some ex-Trans AM 200s had already performed well against Fords, Mazdas, BMWs and Nissans in the high-power, high-speed series and running a new works car could compound the brand’s reputation.

It took until 1992 for Germany to agree to send an original 90 IMSA GTO to Voldi, along with a new ‘C4 S4’ bodyshell. The final car – the one that’s attending Shelsley Walsh – is the hybrid 90/S4 that emerged – using the 90’s running gear and the S4 shell. This was chassis 001 – the first of only two cars.

IMSA S4 GTO in its original racing colours

IMSA S4 GTO in its original racing colours

Spec-wise, the S4 GTO runs Audi’s classic 2.2-litre, 20-valve five-cylinder lump, significantly reworked to produce 720bhp at 7,500rpm, and 531 lb ft of torque at 6,000rpm. Permanent four-wheel-drive assures traction is maintained through a twin dry plate clutch operating a six-speed ‘box. Performance is obviously going to be along the lines of ‘startling’ – hitting 62mph in 3.1 seconds and maxing out at around 193mph, helped by its weight of just 1,200kg.

The car won both races in its debut round of the ‘92 WMS in the hands of Stuck in Audi Sport livery. For the final round of that years racing, it was repainted into Rothmans colours – the sponsor of Voldi. The car went on to take the overall winners title in ’93 and runners-up in ’94, however with the WMS changing its rules for the 1995 season, the car was retired. It has been in a private collections ever since and had only now come to the UK shores in the hands of John Hanlon.

If you’re heading to Shelsley Walsh’s Classic Nostalgia this July 16th and 17th, make sure you don’t miss its inaugural appearance in UK motorsport!

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