Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein — He was involved with the planning and execution of Poland campaign as Chief of Staff of Army Group South. He devised the plan that conquered France in 1940, thence led an infantry corps in that campaign; at the head of a panzer corps he reached the gates of Leningrad in 1941, then took command of 11th Army and conquered Crimea and the Sevastopol. After destroying another Soviet army in the north sector, he was given command of the ad hoc Army Group Don to retrieve the German calamity at Stalingrad, whereupon he launched a counteroffensive that, against all odds, restored the German front. Afterward he commanded Army Group South, nearly crushing the Soviets at Kursk, and then skillfully resisted their relentless attacks, as he traded territory for coherence in the East. However, his skill could not reverse Germany’s declining fortunes and Manstein’s frequent disagreement’s with Hitler over military strategy led to his dismissal on 30 March 1944.

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UrQuattro Gave Audi All-Wheel Dominance

In the late 1970s, Audi engineers started toying with the idea of pairing a turbocharged engine with the Volkswagen Group’s four-wheel-drive platform. The result, in 1980, was the Ur-Quattro (Ur being German for “original”), a car that would ultimately change Group B rally racing and, in time, the way sports cars were prepared. 

Around this time, a young Group B fanatic named Manuel Leon Minassian was growing up in Beirut, Lebanon, where his heroes were rally drivers like Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist, and a tall Bavarian named Walter Röhrl. These men were among the first to race Audi Quattros to Group B glory shortly after regulations permitting all-wheel-drive were introduced in 1979, with Mikkola and Blomqvist taking drivers’ titles in 1983 and 1984 and Audi winning constructors’ titles in 1982 and 1984. For a kid like Minassian, these men were superheroes and the Quattro a supercar. 

Not much has changed, except that Minassian now has an Ur-Quattro of his own, a car which began life as Vasek Polak’s car and which Minassian chased for many years before finally getting a chance to buy it. And there’s little chance of anyone prying it from his hands, not least because, to do so, they’d first have to catch him. 

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