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Group B: fabulous but frightening

Submitted by on December 1, 2009

Having digested Piero Comanducci’s fabulous aural treat in the shape of the 1977 RAC Rally, rally fans really ought to check out this other Piero masterpiece. This one showcases the Group B formula of the early to mid-1980s – a period of the sport dominated by the hi-tech, flame-spitting turbo monsters from Audi, Ford, Lancia and Peugeot. Add to that names like Stig Blomqvist, Hannu Mikkola, Walter Rohrl and Timo Salonen and this is motorsport’s most heady mix.

With little in the form of regulations to limit the participating manufacturers’ imagination, they created lightweight, four-wheel-drive supercars that left a lasting impression on everybody who witnessed them. The Audi Quattro, Ford RS200, Lancia 037/Delta S4 and Peugeot 205 T16 are still revered as the ultimate World Rally cars. As this film demonstrates.

Introduced in 1982, the Group B era began in earnest a year later and was to provide four years of spellbinding action, but at a cost. The cars were so fast and fragile that tragic accidents soon became a by-product of this frightening formula.

Italian driver Attilio Bettega was killed when he crashed his factory Lancia 037 in Corsica in 1985, while a double tragedy exactly a year later prompted the governing body to call a halt to the madness. When Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresta perished in their works Lancia Delta S4 in Corsica, it brought a tumultuous period of rallying to an end. With Portuguese Ford RS200 driver Joaquim Santos having lost control and crashing into the crowd – with fatal consequences – on his home event earlier in the year, 1986 was a season to forget. This evil breed of WRC weapon was thus killed off at the end of the year, leaving fans with just some incredible memories – not all of them good.

WRC results – 1983-1986: the Group B era

1983 (Champion: Hannu Mikkola)

1. Monte Carlo (Jan 22-29)-Walter Rohrl (D)/Christian Geistdorfer (D)-Lancia Rally 037

2. Sweden (Feb 11-13)-Hannu Mikkola (FIN)/Arne Hertz (FIN)-Audi Quattro A1

3. Portugal (Mar 2-5)-Hannu Mikkola (FIN)/Arne Hertz (FIN)-Audi Quattro A1

4. Safari (Mar 30-Apr 4)-Ari Vatanen (FIN)/Terry Harryman (GB)-Opel Ascona 400

5. Corsica (May 5-7)-Markku Alen (FIN)/Ilkka Kivimaki (FIN)-Lancia Rally 037

6. Greece (May 30-Jun 2)-Walter Rohrl (D)/Christian Geistdorfer (D)-Lancia Rally 037

7. New Zealand (Jun 25-28)-Walter Rohrl (D)/Christian Geistdorfer (D)-Lancia Rally 037

8. Argentina (Aug 2-6)-Hannu Mikkola (FIN)/Arne Hertz (FIN)-Audi Quattro A2

9. Finland (Aug 26-28)-Hannu Mikkola (FIN)/Arne Hertz (FIN)-Audi Quattro A2

10. Sanremo (Oct 2-8)-Markku Alen (FIN)/Ilkka Kivimaki (FIN)-Lancia Rally 037

11. Ivory Coast (Oct 25-30)-Bjorn Waldegaard (S)/Hans Thorszelius (S)-Toyota Celica TCT

12. Great Britain (Nov 19-23)-Stig Blomqvist (S)/Bjorn Cederberg (S)-Audi Quattro A2

1984 (Champion: Stig Blomqvist)

1. Monte Carlo (Jan 21-27)-Walter Rohrl (D)/Christian Geistdorfer (D)-Audi Quattro A2

2. Sweden (Feb 10-12)-Stig Blomqvist (S)/Bjorn Cederberg (S)-Audi Quattro A2

3. Portugal (Mar 6-11)-Hannu Mikkola (FIN)/Arne Hertz (FIN)-Audi Quattro A2

4. Safari (Apr 19-23)-Bjorn Waldegaard (S)/Hans Thorszelius (S)-Toyota Celica TCT

5. Corsica (May 3-5)-Markku Alen (FIN)/Ilkka Kivimaki (FIN)-Lancia Rally 037

6. Greece (May 26-31)-Stig Blomqvist (S)/Bjorn Cederberg (S)-Audi Quattro A2

7. New Zealand (Jun 23-26)-Stig Blomqvist (S)/Bjorn Cederberg (S)-Audi Quattro A2

8. Argentina (Jul 27-Aug 1 )-Stig Blomqvist (S)/Bjorn Cederberg (S)-Audi Quattro A2

9. Finland (Aug 26-28)-Ari Vatanen (FIN)/Terry Harryman (GB)-Peugeot 205T16

10. Sanremo (Sep 30-Oct 5)-Ari Vatanen (FIN)/Terry Harryman (GB)-Peugeot 205T16

11. Ivory Coast (Oct 31-Nov 4)-Stig Blomqvist (S)/Bjorn Cederberg (S)-Audi Quattro Sport

12. Great Britain (Nov 25-29)-Ari Vatanen (FIN)/Terry Harryman (GB)-Peugeot 205T16

1985 (Champion: Timo Salonen)

1. Monte Carlo (Jan 26-Feb 1)-Ari Vatanen (FIN)/Terry Harryman (GB)-Peugeot 205T16

2. Sweden (Feb 15-17)-Ari Vatanen (FIN)/Terry Harryman (GB)-Peugeot 205T16

3. Portugal (Mar 6-9)-Timo Salonen (FIN)/Seppo Harjanne (FIN)-Peugeot 205T16

4. Safari (Apr 4-8)-Juha Kankkunen (FIN)/Fred Gallagher (GB)-Toyota Celica TCT

5. Corsica (May 2-4)-Jean Ragnotti (F)/Pierre Thimonier (F)-Renault 5 Turbo

6. Greece (May 27-30)-Timo Salonen (FIN)/Seppo Harjanne (FIN)-Peugeot 205T16

7. New Zealand (Jun 29-Jul 2)-Timo Salonen (FIN)/Seppo Harjanne (FIN)-Peugeot 205T16

8. Argentina (Jul 30-Aug 3)-Timo Salonen (FIN)/Seppo Harjanne (FIN)-Peugeot 205T16

9. Finland (Aug 23-25)-Timo Salonen (FIN)/Seppo Harjanne (FIN)-Peugeot 205T16

10. Sanremo (Sep 29-Oct 4)-Walter Rohrl (D)/Christian Geistdorfer (D)-Audi Quattro Sport S1

11. Ivory Coast (Oct 30-Nov 3)-Juha Kankkunen (FIN)/Fred Gallagher (GB)-Toyota Celica TCT

12. Great Britain (Nov 24-28)-Henri Toivonen (FIN)/Neil Wilson (GB)-Lancia Delta S4

1986 (Champion: Juha Kankkunen)

1. Monte Carlo (Jan 18-24)-Henri Toivonen (FIN)/Sergio Cresto (USA)-Lancia Delta S4

2. Sweden (Feb 14-16)-Juha Kankkunen (FIN)/Juha Piironen (FIN)-Peugeot 205T16

3. Portugal (Mar 5-8)-Joachim Moutinho (P)/Edgar Fortes (P)-Renault 5 Turbo

4. Safari (Mar 29-Apr 2)-Bjorn Waldegaard (S)/Hans Thorszelius (S)-Toyota Celica TCT

5. Corsica (May 1-3)-Bruno Saby (F)/Jean-François Fauchille (F)-Peugeot 205T16

6. Greece (Jun 2-4)-Juha Kankkunen (FIN)/Juha Piironen (FIN)-Peugeot 205T16

7. New Zealand (Jul 5-8)-Juha Kankkunen (FIN)/Juha Piironen (FIN)-Peugeot 205T16

8. Argentina (Aug 6-9)-Miki Biasion (I)/Tiziano Siviero (I)-Lancia Delta S4

9. Finland (Sep 5-7)-Timo Salonen (FIN)/Seppo Harjanne (FIN)-Peugeot 205T16

10. Ivory Coast (Sep 24-27)-Bjorn Waldegaard (S)/Hans Thorszelius (S)-Toyota Celica TCT

11. Great Britain (Nov 16-19)-Timo Salonen (FIN)/Seppo Harjanne (FIN)-Peugeot 205T16

12. United States (Dec 4-7)-Markku Alen (FIN)/Ilkka Kivimaki (FIN)-Lancia Delta S4

Henry Hope-Frost

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