This writer has always held the view that rally drivers have a wider skills set than their circuit racing counterparts. The reasons are simple. Circuit racers do not have to memorise navigators' instructions while dealing with really fast corners, they don't tackle up to 400 separate corners on a given day of competition and they have nice sand traps to crash in, as opposed to ravines, trees, rocks and the like that await errant rally drivers. Rally cars are also fascinating, always being a finely honed compromise between all out performance and tough reliability. We love them, and have shortlisted...
This writer has always held the view that rally drivers have a wider skills set than their circuit racing counterparts. The reasons are simple. Circuit racers do not have to memorise navigators' instructions while dealing with really fast corners, they don't tackle up to 400 separate corners on a given day of competition and they have nice sand traps to crash in, as opposed to ravines, trees, rocks and the like that await errant rally drivers.
Rally cars are also fascinating, always being a finely honed compromise between all out performance and tough reliability. We love them, and have shortlisted seven entries to vie for the title of world's most iconic rally cars. Here is the second half of our two-part series.
Audi's chassis engineer, Jorg Bensinger, proposed a high performance, all-wheel drive version of the Audi 80 in 1977 and the first Quattro was released to the European market in 1980. Audi immediately started to rally the car, with its 2.1-litre, five-cylinder, 10-valve turbocharged engine producing 197 kW of power at 6 000 rpm.
With its all-wheel-drive grip giving the car a definite advantage, the Quattro would be competitive even during its development stages, and Hannu Mikkola took it to its first World Championship event victory in the 1981 Swedish Rally. The Quattro A1 debuted in 1982 and Mikkola took it to three victories that year.
Audi Quattro driver Stig Blomqvist in action with co-driver Bjorn Cederberg during the Longleat Stage of the 1983 RAC Rally. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell /Allsport
The A2 Evolution, driven by Stig Blomqvist, Michel Mouton, Mikkola and Walter Rohrl, won a total of eight World Championship rallies, with three in 1983 and five in 1984. The arrival of the mid-engined Peugeot 205 T16 in 1984 led to the Group B Sport Quattro S1 which, though still front-engined, had a shorter wheelbase to make it more nimble. This car featured an all-aluminium alloy 2.1-litre, 20-valve, five-cylinder, turbocharged engine with 333 kW of power at 7 000 rpm. It also boasted a carbon-kevlar body with wide and aggressive wheel arches that accommodated the new Quattro's wider tyres.
Other Quattro derivatives followed, with the 1986 Sport Quattro S1 E2 boasting up to 450 kW, an aggressive aerodynamic package and a fighting weight of just 1 090 kg. It could go from standstill to 100 km/h in 4.1 sec – on dirt nogal – and Walter Rohrl won with it in Italy.
Sadly, Audi's efforts to keep the Quattro at the top of the WRC were in vain as the 205 T16 still dominated the 1985 and 1986 seasons, while Lancia and Ford also joined the Group B war. The Sport Quattro E2 only participated in six WRC rallies before Audi called it a day after spectator deaths at the Portugal Rally in 1986.
Lancia Delta S4
Lancia's fastest rally car ever enjoyed a very short career. The Delta S4 arrived in 1985, as the Italian manufacturer's response to the all-wheel drive Group B regulations. It was possibly the most technologically advanced rally car ever. Its 1 759 cc, in-line, four-cylinder engine combined supercharging and turbocharging to generate a maximum output of 360 kW, and it weighed in at 890 kg.
The chassis was a tubular space frame construction, and the bodywork was made of a carbon fibre composite with the front and rear bodywork fully detachable. The vehicle featured several aerodynamic aids including a bonnet Gurney flap, front splitter and winglets, flexible front skirt, and rear deck lid wing spoiler.
The Lancia Delta S4's 1 759 cc, in-line four-cylinder engine combined supercharging and turbocharging to generate a maximum output of 360 kW, and it weighed in at 890 kg.
The all-wheel drive system, developed in cooperation with Hewland, featured a centre differential that allowed for up to 75% of the torque to go to the rear wheels. The car won its first event, the 1985 RAC Rally in the hands of Henri Toivonen and carried Markku Alen to second in the Drivers' Championship the following year.
In 1986 there were three wins for the Delta S4.- the Monte Carlo Rally by Toivonen, Rally Argentina by Miki Biasion and the Olympus Rally by Alen. The car's legacy was tainted by the fatal crash of Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto on the 1986 Tour de Corse, where the Finnish driver inexplicably missed a tight left-hand hairpin bend and plunged into a ravine. The car burst into flames immediately, killing both of the crew. The accident led directly to the abolition of Group B, leaving the Delta S4 as the world's most radical rally car.
Subaru Impreza WRX
Subaru has been involved in rallying since 1980, when the Japanese car manufacturer decided the sport could be used to showcase its symmetrical all-wheel-drive technology. But, the company became a serious World Rally Championship contender in 1989, when the British firm Prodrive took over its operations.
Then, in 1993, came that blue and yellow colour scheme, due to a sponsorship deal with the Asian State Express 555 cigarette manufacturer. The 555 logos were found on Subaru World Rally cars from 1993 to 2003, leading millions of motorsport enthusiasts worldwide to mistake blue and yellow as Subaru's corporate colours.
The Subaru Impreza WRX won a record 46 World Championship rallies via its works team, plus hundreds of national events, in the hands of privateers throughout the world.
The team was historically an extremely strong one, winning the Manufacturers' Championship three times in 1995, 1996, and 1997 It also won the Drivers' Championship three times, in 1995 with Colin McRae, in 2001 with Richard Burns, and in 2003 with Petter Solberg. In all, the Impreza model won a record 46 World Championship rallies, and hundreds of national championship rallies throughout the world, with privateer competitors avidly buying the all-wheel-drive cars.
The factory team withdrew from WRC competition at the end of the 2008 season due to a widespread economic downturn. To this day, Subaru Impreza WRX models can be seen contesting club rallies all over the globe. To this day, many of them are painted dark blue, with yellow flashes on the side.
To read the first half of the series, click here .
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