The beginning of Group B
The early 1980s saw a category created specifically for manufacturers who wanted to show off their engineering capabilities; Group B was born. The Group B rally supercars quickly evolved into 500+ horsepower, four-wheel-drive chest-thumping beasts with space frames, kevlar bodywork, and many other high-tech pieces. Extrapolated from a minimum series of 200 in basicly simmilar roadgoing cars. The group B cars reached a point where many wondered if the cars had reached a point where the drivers could not fully control them. For instance, the Lancia Delta S4 could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.3 seconds on a gravel road. Henri Toivonen drove an S4 around Estoril, the Portuguese Grand Prix circuit, so quickly that he would have qualified sixth for the 1986 Portuguese Grand Prix. Nigel Mansell sampled a Peugeot 205 T16 and said it could out-accelerate his F1 car. And, perhaps most impressive (frightening?), the driver's reaction times were cut in half compared with previous rally cars. The Group B rally cars and their pilots were the stuff of which legends are made.
The 205 T16's pace in Corsica shocked the rally community. Peugeot had built a strong team, with Ari Vatanen as the driver and Jean Todt (now the manager of the Ferrari F1 team) running the rally program. Vatanen crashed out of the Corsican rally, but went on to give the 205 its first win at the 1000 Lakes rally in Finland later that year. By this time, Audi had introduced it's Sport Quattro, while the Lancia 037 was already showing it's age. Peugeot looked set to walk away with the 1985 titles after an impressive year of preparation during 1984.
Peugeot did dominate most of the 1985 season, but things didn't go according to plan. Peugeot lost Ari Vatanen in a near-fatal crash in Argentina, but his teammate Timo Salonen took up the challenge and brought both titles to Peugeot. However, the 1985 RAC rally saw a whole pack of new challengers hungry to challenge Peugeot's dominance. Lancia debuted its new Delta S4, which was supercharged and turbocharged, Ford unveiled the RS200, Audi entered it's radical S1 Quattro, and Peugeot countered the newcomers with the 205 T16 Evolution 2. Lancia's new S4 came away with first and second places; by this point, wings had to be added to the cars to keep them on the road.
The end of Group B
Rallying after Group B
The Group B cars
and their roadgoing copies
(a minimum of 200 roadgoing copies of each group B car were needed for homologation in group B)
You can read more
about the group B cars by clicking here,
the link goes the
website of Alan Ockwell, the author of most of the text about the group B cars displayed
on my site.