Group B Rally Monsters
What was 'Group B'?
In 1982 FIA introduced a set of regulations required by manufacturers to enter their vehicles into the Group B rally class. This led to the production (or rather creation) of some of the most electrifying and ridiculously fast rally cars which would later become banned in the late 1980's due to a series of accidents and spectator (also driver) injuries and fatalities.
Regulations to enter a car into this class were less strict than other classes. For example, there were no limits on boost so multiple turbo chargers were utilised and resulted in the power output of rally cars doubling over the course of 5 years. Weight was stripped from the vehicles and sophisticated 4 wheel drive systems were introduced to help deliver this extra power onto the gravel, dirt and icy road surfaces.
One of the stipulations was that 200 road legal versions of the vehicle had to be built in order to enter Group B. Other than this the restrictions were very lax which enabled manufacturers to develop extremely powerful engines and in the case of the Delta S4 they were equipped with a super charger as well as a turbo to optimize power output.
The class was eventually branded as "too fast to race" with spectators crowding along the edge of the rally tracks to catch a glimpse of these absolute monsters and remember, this was back in the day where there was very little in the form of electronic stabilisation, suspension and brakes to be able to deal with the kind of power these vehicles could produce.
Crowd control was a serious issue and the lack of barriers often gave way to spectators making their way onto the tracks just moments before the cars came screaming past! In 1986 during the 'Rally de Portugal' a Ford RS200 lost control and ploughed into a crowd of spectators killing three and injuring many more. Most of the top teams immediately pulled out of the rally as a sign of respect but also in protest at the security allowing spectators to stand almost anywhere (including on the roads) which left even less margin for error. The drivers felt it was not safe to be pushing such powerful cars to their limits on roads without barriers let alone with pedestrians free to wander around during the rally stages.
The class was finally declassified after the death of Henri Toivonen and his co driver when his Lancia Delta S4 left the road during the 1986 Tour de Corse.
Group B Rallying remains to this day one of the most dangerous motor sports that existed which to me is a real shame as I have never since been so exited to watch motorsport as the day I first heard the turbo chatter of the Audi Quattro and that highly strung turbo whistle.
Group B Rally Cars
Perhaps the most successful of all was the Audi Quattro S1 which won an astounding number of rallies with both the A1 and A2 model triumphing it's competition.
Audi Quattro group B rally car
A Metro with a V6, twin turbo charged engine and 4 wheel drive! This was always going to be a crazy beast to try and tame.
The crazy Metro 6R4
The Ford RS200 is still widely considered as one of the true greats even after the 1986 accident during the Portugal rally. Named after the 200 road legal versions required to be built in order to enter the class this turbo charged, 4 wheel drive sports car would still be a match for today's modern equivalents.
Peugeot 205 T16
The Peugeot 205 T16 was spectacular and almost on a par with the Audi Quattro winning 7 out of the 12 rounds in the 1985 rally giving Peugeot the winning manufacturers title.
Peugeot 205 T16
Lancia Delta S4
Tragically the Lancia Delta S4 was the car that made the headlines for all the wrong reasons and ended the era of Group B classification. The S4 replaced Lancia's struggling 037 and was equipped with both a super charger and turbo along with 4 wheel drive to optimizer the power output and even up it's handling when on the gravel and ice sections of a rally.