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Monday, November 22, 2010

Killer B (part 2)

While Group B rally had some amazing drivers, it was the cars that made WRC so spectacular at the time.  More often than not the drivers were just along for the ride and some didn't make it out alive.  The following are the fire-breathing monsters that crisscrossed the world in the mid-80s for global supremacy on dirt, snow, and asphalt.

Here's some music to get you in the mood first:

Audi Sport Quattro

This is genesis for the WRC.  The Audi Quattro was introduced in 1980 after the FIA allowed four-wheel drive into the series.  Being based on a production car, the layout was a front-engined, four-wheel drive affair.  Audi's amazing system was supposedly tested on snow covered mountain roads with summer tires.  It made it up before other chain equipped two-wheel drive cars did.

In 1984, the homologated Audi Sport Quattro hit the Group B circuit.  The four contacts patches transferred about 440hp in race trim and 300hp in road going form.  The race version's output ballooned to an astronomical 590hp by the end of the Group B era in 1985.  All this power came courtesy of a 2.1 liter 5-cylinder.  Oh yeah, it only had to motivate 2,400 pounds.

Ford RS200

The RS200 was Ford's answer to the Audi.  Former F1 designers and engineers were brought in to aid development.  It was a purpose-built rally car that should have dominated the championship.  The RS was mid-engined, front transmissioned, and four-wheel driven.  It had amazing balance with that layout.

However, the blue oval boys thought they were going to a football match and not a gunfight.  They tried to play ball with a 1.8 liter turbocharged four banger that put out 450hp in race trim.  Now, 450 horsepower isn't a small number and the reported weight is similar to that of the production based Audi.  It can only be assumed that the Quattro system was more advanced... it has a trademarked name for god sakes.

Lancia Delta S4
Lancia is the winningest rally manufacturer. Their previous rally cars, the Stratos and 037, hold places of honor in  So, of course, its car was a fire breather.  The Lancia Delta S4 was the company's purpose-built rally racer.  It sported a tubular space-frame like any other race car worthy of hitting the track.  Although the production version had a front-mounted motor, the S4 had a mid-mounted powerplant that chugged 1.8 liters through its four supercharged, lag-free cylinders. This was good for 350hp...then a turbo was added...

Peugeot 205 T16

The 205 seems to be the red-headed step child of the Group B rally world.  It doesn't get as much love as the Ford, Lancia, or Audi.  Many argue that the 200 samples needed for homologation were never made.  However, plain and simple, it won races!  In addition to the team being run by Jean Todt (Michael Schumacher's championship winning Ferrari team principal), the car was like the Lancia.  That is to say, it was a monster.

Take 1.8 liters of fuel, add a bunch of pressurized air, mix it up in four cylinders with a dash of fire.  Next thing you know, this 2000 lb can full of rollcage is hurtling along at break-neck speeds, courtesy of 424hp.

These cars were just the tip of the Group B iceberg.  They are the ones that I wish I could have seen live and in person.  With the wild popularity of rallying at the time, the majority of manufacturers fielded a car.  These went up against Porsches and Ferraris!  I hope this piqued your interest in Group B or rally in general.

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