On 2 May 1986, Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto were dead while antagonism in the Tour de Corse. It signalled the end for the belled Group B ambulatory – the final act in a alternation of adverse contest involving super-fast and super-light assemblage cars.
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More than three decades on, and admitting the deaths and austere injuries, Group B is remembered as one of rallying’s greatest periods. We mark the 30th ceremony with our favourite Group B cars.
It’s no accompaniment that rallying’s best determinative years were additionally its best dangerous. Aback in the 1980s, the action was added accepted than F1, with assemblage drivers acceptable domiciliary names. For carmakers, Group B was like actuality let off the bridle – chargeless to anatomy crazy machines with alone 200 alley cars appropriate for homologation purposes.
Horsepower went through the roof and the cars became anytime lighter. It was a compound for disaster, but the admirers admired it, agog to band the tarmac, snow and alluvium stages of the world, generally aural affecting ambit of the mega-horsepower machines.
Four-wheel drive and turbocharging – today it sounds like a simple recipe, but aback Audi launched its quattro, it was both abolitionist and groundbreaking. Audi works driver, Stig Blomqvist declared the aberration amid two- and front-wheel drive as “day and night”. Indeed, Audi was able to defended a appalling team, with Michele Mouton and Hannu Mikkola abutting Blomqvist.
Hannu Mikkola collection the Audi quattro to the drivers’ championship in 1983, with Stig Blomqvist repeating the accomplishment in 1984. The German close was absolutely assertive the sport, with success on the clue advice to sales in the showroom. Its quattro technology revolutionised apple rallying, banishment its competitors to comedy bolt up. They did bolt up, but it took a while.
In 1983, the Lancia Assemblage 037 was the aftermost rear-wheel drive car to win a Apple Assemblage Championship. Its backup — the Delta S4 — was a mid-engined, four-wheel drive Group B monster, advised to booty the action to Audi. Indeed, abreast from the Peugeot 205 T16, it was the alone 18-carat battling to the all-conquering quattro.
Its supercharged and turbocharged agent produced amid 450hp and 500hp, with its kerb weight of 890kg highlighting all that was acceptable — and absolutely bad — about Group B rallying. The Delta S4 was one of Group B’s wildest childs and will always be remembered as the car comatose by Toivonen at the 1986 Tour de Corse. The Finn’s afterlife signalled the end for Group B.
Looking back, it’s as admitting the world’s carmakers were on some affectionate of biologic in the 1980s. That’s the alone rational account for Ford creating the RS200. Its bearing was a absolute aftereffect of the abandoning of the Ford Escort RS1700T, but it wouldn’t admission until the 1986 division – the final year of Group B.
If it looks abolitionist today, aloof anticipate what it charge accept looked like in the mid 80s. Abreast from Sierra rear lights and windscreen, the RS200 looked annihilation like the accepted Ford cars of the day, while its Kevlar anatomy hid a 1.8-litre agent developing 420hp. Sadly, an RS200 apprenticed by Joaquim Santos was complex in an adventure in which three assemblage died and a added 30 were injured. It was the aboriginal of abounding incidents which led to the closing ban on Group B cars.
For abounding admirers of rallying, three cars accomplish up the Holy Trinity of Group B: the Audi quattro, the Lancia Delta S4 and the Peugeot 205 T16. Advised to booty on the ability of Audi, the 205 T16 was lighter and accordingly added active than its German rival; acceptable the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in 1985 and 1986.
With 335hp on tap — a bulk that would admission to 420hp and again 500hp — Jean Todt was able to accumulate an all-star casting for his Peugeot Talbot Action team. None added than Ari Vatanen, Timo Salonen and Juha Kankkunen took the caster of the 205 T16 cars, creating a Group B bout fabricated in heaven.
Rose-tinted glasses are a admirable thing. Three decades on we attending at the MG Metro 6R4 with a huge bulk of affection, not atomic because of its success in ‘Clubman’ spec. But as a Group B assemblage car it has to go bottomward as a failure, with a assumption of agent failures arch to a alternation of DNF classifications.
Not to be abashed with the Metro apprenticed by your mother, the 6R4 featured a mid-mounted V6 engine, flared arches and basic cycle cage. In case you were wondering, 6R4 stands for 6 cylinder, Rear engine, 4-wheel drive.
When is a Group B car not a Group B car? Aback it’s a Ferrari 288 GTO. While abounding manufacturers chose to go rallying, a few ventured bottomward the clue route, one of which was Ferrari. The 288 GTO was advised to go antagonism and Ferrari was to anatomy 200 alley cars. But with the afterlife of Group B, Ferrari was larboard with a car afterwards a chase series…
No matter, because such was the appeal for the 288 GTO — aboriginal apparent at the 1984 Geneva Motor Show — Ferrari apprenticed avant-garde with a assembly run of 272 examples. The apple was animated it did, because the 400hp 288 GTO became one of the defining Ferraris of the 1980s. And it was all acknowledgment to Group B…
But while Ferrari created a Group B icon, Citroen created an embarrassment. The French close was so abashed of the BX 4TC, it annulled the activity and ordered all actual cars be scrapped. Its ungainly looks were acknowledgment to its engine, which was army too far forward, while the car itself was too abundant and suffered from abominable understeer.
By 1988, some two years afterwards the afterlife of Group B, alone 85 of the planned 200 cars appropriate for homologation had been sold. Around bisected of these survived Citroen’s night of the connected knives, authoritative the 4TC awful collectable today. That said, it charcoal one of the cheapest entries into Group B ownership.
Perhaps the best technologically avant-garde of all Group B cars, the Porsche 959 never absolutely entered a Group B race. Development of the Porsche ‘Gruppe B’ took far too long, which meant that by the time it was complete, Group B had already been boarded to the history books. But that didn’t stop the 959 from establishing itself as a legend.
Indeed, admitting ambulatory became beneath important to Porsche, the 959 did defended an absorbing one-two in the Paris-Dakar Assemblage of 1986, while a track-focused car took a chic win at Le Mans. At the time, this 197mph was the fastest road-going car in the world. Another acumen to bless Group B.
Some cars are built-in too anon for their own good. The beauteous Lancia Assemblage 037 is a acceptable case in point. Admitting it was acknowledged in the 1983 Apple Assemblage Championship — accepting the Constructors’ appellation — the autograph was already on the wall, with Audi proving that four-wheel drive represented the approaching of apple rallying.
It was the aboriginal Group B car to be congenital and was actively quick on alley surfaces. But its rear-wheel drive attributes meant it was clumsy to bout the Audi quattro on snow and gravel, so its canicule on the belvedere were numbered. It was replaced by the Delta S4 and after the Delta HF Group A.
The greatest Group B car anytime produced? Far from it, but we all accept a bendable atom for the Opel Manta 400. Work started on the car aback in 1981, but FISA didn’t accord it the brand of approval until 1983. It fabricated its admission in Corsica.
The Opel Manta 400 fabricated all-encompassing use of Kevlar, with the advanced wings, advanced panel, bonnet, doors, rear arches, cossack lid, addle-brain and headlight holders all fabricated from the failing material. That’s the attributes of Group B – annihilation goes.
Nissan’s Group B admission was the 240RS coupe. It was powered by a 2.4-litre agent developed accurately for Group B, with ability transferred to the rear auto application a Nismo transmission.
Being rear-wheel drive, it enjoyed bound success on the world’s circuits, but it managed a additional abode in the New Zealand Rally.
Thanks to its success in the Safari and Ivory Coast Rallies, the Toyota Celica Twin-Cam Turbo becoming itself a appellation of ‘King of Africa’. While added carmakers were switching to four-wheel drive, Toyota ashore with rear-wheel drive, abundant to the disappointment of aggregation bang-up Ove Andersson.
It fabricated its admission on the 1983 1,000 Lakes Rally, area Juha Kankkunen collection it to a admirable sixth place. On its abutting airing it accomplished aboriginal on the 1984 Ivory Coast Rally. The end of Group B signalled the end for the Celica Twin-Cam Turbo and a new alpha for the Celica with a new four-wheel drive drivetrain.
The Citroen Visa Mille Pistes followed the beforehand Visa Trophée and Visa Chrono models, accouterment entry-level admission to Group B rallying. While it was never activity to attempt for honours, the Mille Pistes did accomplish a cardinal of chic wins.
Its agent was a acquainted adaptation of the road-going 1.4-litre agent begin in a cardinal of Citroen and Peugeot models, but with four-wheel drive added for the aboriginal time in a Visa. Abounding fell into easily of privateers and — abundant like the BX 4TC — it provides one of the best affordable means to acquaintance Group B.
The Visa’s absolute adversary was this – the Skoda 130LR. The rear-engined assemblage car was based on the Skoda 120 alley car and was powered by a 1.3-litre agent developing 132hp.
After Group B was cancelled, the Skoda 130LR connected to be acclimated in civic contest until 1988. In its day, the Skoda was absolutely a appalling and abiding giant-killer.
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