By Johan Laubscher
For many of the older motorsport fans the words Super Touring spark excitement in their minds. Super Touring, also known as FIA Class 2 rules was a touring car formula that was born in Britain and quickly spread around the world. It was a two litre formula adopted by the BTCC which proved extremely popular with the fans. The racing in Super Touring was spectacular and fans could watch almost all the showroom sedans battling it out on the track. The age old term, “Win on Sunday and sell on Monday” was very evident and the manufactures came rolling in. All the manufacturers you can think of who build large volume sedans took part, which meant a healthy field of cars all over the world. The formula spread like wild fire all over Europe and the rest of the world, every continent had Super Touring racing.
The Audi A4 STW in the 1996 BTCC
One of the major players in the formula was Audi, who were the only competitor using four wheel drive. The original Audi Super Touring car was the Audi 80 Competition which was very successful and competed officially from 1993-1994. The Audi A4 (B5) was launched to the world in 1994 and would make its race debut in 1995 as the Audi A4 STW quattro (STW = Super Tourenwagen/Super Touring Car). The car was immediately a front runner taking many championships including a 1996 season clean sweep. The 1996 championship list included, the Championships from Britain, Germany, Italy, Australia, Belgium, Spain and South Africa, all of which were won by the Audi A4. The A4 was penalised for an unfair advantage and eventually four wheel drive was banned from this form of sanctioned motorsport in 1998.
Since then Super Touring came to an eventual death as development and running costs became astronomical. The formula was ended in the early 2000s and replaced by the S2000 rules for touring car. Many still consider Super Touring as a golden period for the sport and the S2000 rules never relived the glory days.
After the demise of the formula the second hand race-car market was flooded with old Super Touring machines. Many of the cars were picked up and raced in various national series. One of the most sought after models was the Audi A4, it had brilliant acceleration and grip levels. The Audi A4 has found a new popular home, and that home is on the hills of Europe. The car has become an extremely popular choice of car for hillclimb events as it is perfectly suited to the tight and twisty nature of the sport.
Dozens of the A4 STW cars have been used and are still being used in hillclimbs, often keeping up with and beating other purpose built rally cars, even ex-WRC cars. Audi A4 STW has been a dominating force in the Spanish hillclimb series where many of the cars still take part very competitively. The cars can be found gracing the hillsides all over Europe, from Spain to Greece and even the Canary Islands.
The hillclimb scene has really become the Audi A4 STW’s reincarnation, and by the looks of things the car will continue to be a weapon of choice for hillclimb drivers for many years to come. Hearing that glorious engine note at full power across the picturesque hillsides is enough to make anyone nostalgic to the good old days of Super Touring, long live the A4 STW.
Photos by Race Action
Just a few video examples of the A4 STW dominating the hillsides of Europe
Andreas Marko – Austrian Hillcimb Series (2012)
Panagiotis Cabilis – Greek Hillclimb Series (2012)
José A. López-Fombona – Spanish Hillclimb Series (2011)
Just go to youtube and search for "Audi hillclimb", you will not be disappointed...