February 9, 2007

When monsters roamed the earth, the excellence that was Group B.

We always lose something with progress. When it was cancelled at the end of the 1986 FISA Rally season, Group B had a public image slightly more positive than that of pit bulls. The history is well known, the Rally of Portugal saw the death of three spectators when a Ford RS 200 left the road. Later in the year, one of the sport's biggest stars, Lancia's Henri Toivonen and his navigator Sergio Cresto were killed at the Corsica Rally. There was no choice but to shut it down.
What we lost was another great period of the kind of fantastic technical achievements and innovations which happen when rules are essentially free. Manufacturers jumped at the chance to be involved because they had carte blanche to think outside the box. This was similar to Formula 1 in earlier times when designers questioned everything from the number of wheels to the number of cylinders. Modern motor racing is moving more and more towards spec series, even Formula 1 is so restricted that it is essentially impossible to tell the cars apart save for their paint jobs. I find this to be a real shame, we of course have gained tremendously in the area of safety but we have lost in excitement and spectacle, witness the disaster that WRC has become and the skepticism which surrounds Formula 1. I really wish rules could be as simple as a minimum weight, a displacement and crash test/safety standards.

But I digress....

I found the clip below from a documentary of rallying, it is FANTASTIC. Look at the cars at the beginning and check out their suspensions....
In the clip is also this stunning claim by ( I believe) Walter Röhrl " On one test, at the same time as they were doing a formula 1 race, we were testing on exactly the same length as this formula 1 race (but) we were testing on a gravel road and we were only 4 seconds slower than their lap time....it was really quite fast"....yeah.

Also in the clip (at 3:40) an amazing montage of Röhrl driving an Audi Quattro S1....it is pure bio-mechanical ballet.
You als see the madness which pervades your average Rally spectator, essentially the same psychology as in the running of the bulls in Pamplona...except the bulls are a bit faster and louder.

It's a large clip but well worth any wait.


r/click here to download

more Group B info

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