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Group C: The Rise and Fall of the Golden Age of Endurance Racing: Cars and Constructors Part 1

Submitted by on February 20, 2019

By Marcel Hundscheid/Speed-O-Graphica

In this second part of our Group C deep dive we look back to several cars and constructors that raced in the World Sportscar Championship from 1983 until 1991. We kick off part one of the cars and constructors with ADA Engineering from the UK.

ADA Engineering

Chris Crawford and Ian Harrower created ADA Engineering in 1977. Getting their start as an engineering design and consultancy film, they would run an ex-World Gebhardt C2 in the World Endurance Championship in 1985, finding some success the following year with a class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

From 1987 the pair began work on their own car, with chassis 03 entered in the World Sportscar Championship in 1988. Harrower entered the 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans with co-drivers Jiro Yoneyama and Hideo Fukuyama, finishing 18th overall and claiming an impressive second place in C2.

Pictured here is chassis 88-02, seen during the Spa Classic back in 2014. This car was built in 1987 and debuted at the Brands Hatch 1000 kms. In a practice session for the Kyalami 1000 kms in South Africa, the car, driven by Michael Briggs and Mario Hytten, went quickest, but it was unfortunately destroyed in a huge starting accident. It was rebuilt in 1988 with some modifications, resulting in ADA C2-02B.


Alba was a small Italian company based in Moncalieri near Turin and founded by Giorgio Stirano, a former Osella engineer, in 1982. They developed the carbon fibre composite AR2 to compete in Group C Junior, powering it with a Carma FF four-cylinder 1.8 turbo engine.

Martino Finotto and Carlo Facetti debuted at the 1983 WSC event in Silverstone, scoring an instant victory in Group C Junior. Another victory at the Nürburgring was followed by podium finishes in the UK and South Africa, eventually giving the team the Group C Junior crown.

In 1984 the Alba-Ford AR3 appeared, followed by the AR4, AR5 and AR6. Unfortunately these cars could not match the success of the previous year. 8th in the Mugello 1000 kms in 1985 was their best result.

Years after the appearance of the AR6, the Alba AR20 was launched. On its face this car resembled its predecessors, although it was now built around a huge Motori Moderni 3.5 liter V12, designed by Carlo Chiti. The AR20 suffered under the weight of the V12, which did not produce performance to power through the weight, barely managing to produce 560 hp. Marco Brand and Gianfranco Brancatelli raced the car in the World Sports Prototype Championship, but didn’t find success.

Pictured below is Alba AR2-001 seen at the Spa Classic in 2016.

ALD Automobiles Louis Descartes

Louis Descartes founded Automobiles Louis Descartes,commonly known as ALD, in 198 . Descartes raced prototypes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1985 to 1991 and dreamed of building his own prototype, eventually teaming up with engineer Jean Paul Sauvée in 1983. The pair had a plan to convert a Lola T298 into a prototype with a closed cabin, but the project was abandoned.

The ALD01 came into the world as a brand new machine, designed by Sauveé and running a six-cylinder, 3.5-litre BMW engine. 1985 saw Descartes, Jacques Heuvlin and Dany Hubert challenging the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After struggling with mechanical gremlins throughout the race they did see the finish line, but were not classified having failed to meet the required distance.

ALD02 contested the European races of the world championship. Once again, mechanicals stymied its success, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1986 was abandoned on lap 41. ALD03, designed around the windshield of a Porsche 962 and originally equipped with a 2.0 litre turbo engine from Audi, was built for the 1987 season. Results were catastrophic and it was decided to switch the Audi engine for a BMW M1 motor. During the 24 hours of Le Mans the car made it to the finish line for the first time.

In 1988 the new ALD04 appeared, debuting at Silverstone, but for 1989 ALD would debut three new cars, including the ALD05 and ALD06 as well as the ALD C289. This car was designed around a carbon chassis and equipped with a Ford Cosworth DFL engine. Despite all efforts, ALD didn’t manage to gain success with this car and it would not see the finish of either the ’89 or ’90 editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In 1991 the ALD C91 appeared with a 3.5-litre Ford engine and again the car had to retire from the race early. As a result of the accidental death of founder Louis Descartes, ALD ceased operation on December 27th, 1991, just three days before his 40th birthday.

Pictured below is ALD C289-02 at the 2015 Spa Classic.

In the next episode we will continue our dive into the constructors and cars that powered Group C racing.

Marcel Hundscheid

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