Monday, March 28, 2011

For the love of Rally: Group B - Too Fast To Race

With the 2011 World Rally Championship (WRC) season in full swing, it's hard not to get nostalgic. There have been many legendary drivers and cars that made names for themselves in rally racing, over the past 50+ years, but the most notoriety is tied to when rally racing seemed to have no rules at all...besides going as fast as technically possible; this was the age of Group B.

In the 1982 there were two major rule regulation classes within FIA Rally racing; Group A and Group B. Group A was a privateer targeting class using near-factory production cars, requiring 4 seats and public production of 5000+ cars a year. Group B, on the other hand, was a class targeting manufacturers to showcase technical superiority much like Formula 1; manufacturers could enter prototype cars, with extremely limited homologation, meaning less production cars had to be made for public consumption by rule (200+ cars a year). This fact directly lead to freedom of technological experimentation. Lightweight materials, high-output engine technology and aggressive design were highlights of Group B. And Group B's trump card? No limit on boost. Turbo technology development ran rampant through motorsports in the 80's; from Formula 1, IMSA GT to international 24hr endurance racing. Rally racing was no different in this regard and with no limit on the boost levels for turbo motors in Group B, what was already one of the most challenging and dangerous forms of motorsport in the world became leagues hairier.

As to be expected, with the wild international crowds that frequented FIA sanctioned rally events and the 700+ hp racecars being flicked around corners by fearless pilots, things got deadly. This documentary is the story of the drivers, manufacturers and legendary cars of this short era of motorsport history.

Video hosting courtesy of OffCambered.

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