On the earth of motorsports, each lack of life is tragic. And for many years this was very a lot a real-life, ever-present aspect in any type of racing. Numerous drivers misplaced their lives attempting to push their vehicles to the very restrict. Ever-increasing speeds, ever extra complicated vehicles, ever extra spectators introduced alongside immense dangers. Fortunately, these days are far behind us and a fatality in racing could be very uncommon. However, there are incidents that brought on excess of the demise of a driver, and possibly even spectators. Some crashes killed off total racing groups and even championships. And as we speak we have a look at three vehicles that fell sufferer to such cancellation earlier than they even had an opportunity to roar.
Group B turns into Group S
For these with even the slightest curiosity in racing and rallying, Group B will stand out as maybe probably the most insane period within the World Rally Championship’s historical past. It was the period of extremely highly effective machines, specifically developed to blitz throughout tarmac, gravel, dust, snow and ice. Even as we speak, individuals born effectively after the Group B period got here to an finish are contaminated with it. Simply take a look at the numerous tribute clips accessible on YouTube, corresponding to this one:
Group B was the successor to the Group 4 rally championship, sanctioned by the FIA. It ran just for a few years between 1982 and 1986 and attracted a few of the largest names within the sport. Each drivers, copilots and producers for that matter. The likes of Walter Röhrl, Juha Kankkunen, Henri Toivonen, Stig Blomqvist and Ari Vatanen battled it out in monstrously highly effective machines made by Audi, Lancia, Peugeot, Ford and others.
Group B had fairly a unfastened algorithm and allowed for some radical technological improvements to be launched. Of every competing automotive, 200 road-going variants needed to be constructed (the homologation particular). Weight was saved to a minimal, and there was no restrict on the boost-pressure engines may run at. Previous to Group B, rally vehicles beneath FIA laws produced round 250bhp, however beneath new Group B guidelines, that rapidly shot as much as 600bhp or extra.
The governing physique thought issues had been getting out of hand and, backed by plenty of severe incidents the place drivers and spectators had been killed and/or injured, Group S was drawn up. This was meant to interchange Group B rallying and regulate the facility to a most of 300bhp. The variety of vehicles required to construct was dropped, and technological freedom was relaxed even additional to advertise true innovation to the extent four-wheel drive had delivered to the game.
Not meant to be
Group S was destined to take over within the late eighties however was by no means meant to be. From early on, it was Audi and Lancia who dominated the game. Only a few years previous to the introduction of Group B, Audi would introduce the Quattro four-wheel-drive system to rallying, and it blow the competitors out of the water. Solely Lancia was in a position to push again, with the sunshine and nimble 037. Though the Audi’s had been faster on unfastened surfaces, the Lancia proved formidable on the tarmac. In Group B’s inaugural 12 months of 1983, Audi received the driving force’s title with Stig Blomqvist whereas Lancia received the constructor’s championship. Jeremy Clarkson paid tribute to this iconic duel.
A 12 months later, Audi dominated all through the season and took each titles. The Audi Quattro would show unbeatable on just about any street floor. Opponents would wish to up their sport to face even the slightest likelihood to win, which they did for the 1985 season. Lancia launched the Delta S4 to interchange the now struggling 037, Peugeot launched the 205 T16 and Renault fielded the Renault 5 Maxi Turbo. The lighter and extra nimble Peugeot beat the all-conquering Audi’s for the 1985 championship, and the long run appeared shiny for the French staff for the following 12 months.
1986 would show to be a disastrous 12 months for Group B although, as there have been a number of main incidents. This 12 months, Audi would convey the short-wheelbase Quattro S1, Peugeot ran the 205 T16 E2, Lancia had the Delta S4, Ford launched the RS200 and the MG Metro 6R4 additionally made its debut. All of those vehicles would show detrimental to Group B’s legacy.
It might even be the 12 months every part would go horribly improper, as there have been a number of massive incidents involving spectators. The primary decisive incident occurred throughout the Portuguese Rally, the place Portuguese driver Joaqim Santos misplaced management of his Ford RS200 and veered off into the gang, killing three individuals and injuring 31 extra. All groups instantly withdrew from the occasion.
The subsequent occasion the place catastrophe would strike was the 1986 Tour de Corse, the place ace rally star Henri Toivonen crashed his Lancia Delta S4 and plunged down the facet of a hill. The automotive burst into flames because the gas tanks ruptured, killing each Toivonen and his copilot, Sergio Cresto. A crash that concerned F1 star Marc Surer driving a Ford RS200, through which his co-driver was killed led the FIA to ban all Group B vehicles for the next 12 months, with Audi withdrawing instantly.
This could be the proverbial nail within the coffin for not solely Group B, but additionally its successor, Group S. Not solely did FIA ban Group B vehicles, it by no means continued the event of Group S laws and as an alternative turned to Group A, which fielded vehicles that had been tightly restricted and quite a bit much less highly effective. The cancellation additionally meant that a number of vehicles that had been already constructed particularly for Group S by no means had the possibility to race, successfully rendered lifeless on arrival.
Lancia ECV & ECV II
From the skin, the Lancia ECV may not look that a lot completely different to the Lancia Delta S4 and in essence that’s very a lot true. The Lancia ECV was an evolution of the Delta S4’s idea. The ECV abbreviation stands for Experimental Composite Automobile, which instantly hints at what it was all about. As competitors from the likes of Peugeot, Ford and naturally Audi grew stronger, the ECV was set to interchange the Delta S4.
Beneath was a brand new kind of 1.8-litre twin-turbocharged inline-4 engine producing over 600bhp. The engine was reasonably uncommon because it had crossing valves on both facet of the cylinders so every turbo had its personal manifold. The automotive made intensive use of aluminium, Kevlar and carbon fibre to enhance rigidity and scale back weight. Because of this, it solely weighed 930 kilograms. The up to date physique shell was fitted with ground-effect skirts to extend aerodynamic efficiency. Energy from the engine could be minimize to half the unique output if Group S would have develop into the brand new commonplace in World Rally Championship.
The one ECV constructed was finally “sacrificed” to construct the ECV II (see beneath), which took the thought of the ECV a lot additional. It relied on the identical chassis and engine setup however used a closely modified physique to attempt to drastically enhance the aerodynamic efficiency. Neither automotive would ever run an official race and could be relegated to mere monuments of what may have been. Years down the road, utilizing authentic parts, the Lancia ECV could be rebuilt and is often proven to the general public.
Toyota MR2 222D
Toyota has an extended historical past on the planet of rallying as effectively, successful a number of champions all through all of the years of rivalry. In fact, there’s the notorious season through which they had been caught dishonest, however even earlier than that, the Japanese producer was very energetic within the off-road world.
The Toyota 222D was derived from the small first-gen MR2 coupe Toyota constructed between 1984 and 1989 however shares solely the fundamental design and a restricted variety of parts. It has a light-weight spaceframe chassis and a vastly highly effective engine stuffed within the again. The physique seems like one thing out of a Nineteen Eighties Hollywood blockbuster, like Terminator or Robocop.
The engine, a turbocharged 2.0L inline-4 produced a staggering 600 horsepower, in a automotive that may weigh simply 750 kilograms. The timing was all off for Toyota although, because the cancellation of Group B and Group S meant it by no means bought previous the prototype stage. In accordance with the curator of the automotive you see within the photographs, John Daly, the 222D was terrible to drive. It had big turbo-lag, and just about did no matter it wished to do with out informing the driving force. Over time, it may have been labored out and it may have been a formidable contender maybe, however as we now know, that by no means occurred.
Audi Quattro RS 002
The third and remaining automotive in as we speak’s episode is the weirdly fantastic Audi Quattro RS002. This automotive was truly developed in secrecy, unbeknownst to Audi’s administration. The staff pulled out of the 1986 Rally of Portugal because of the tragic incident of Joaqim Santos, however allegedly it was additionally because of the elevated competitors from the likes of Ford, Peugeot and Lancia who all ran mid-engine vehicles versus the front-engine Quattro’s.
The automotive developed by Audi Motorsport’s engineers was primarily based on the Sport Quattro however with an engine within the again. It was examined within the Czech Republic, to keep away from being found and stopped. One other check was scheduled, now with rally-ace Walter Röhrl, and would happen in Austria. The press came upon about this, and the check was rapidly relocated to Germany. There, a lone reporter noticed the automotive and took pictures of it. As information broke, the Audi bosses came upon and put a cease to it altogether. All however one prototype had been destroyed.
And that one remaining automotive? Nicely, that’s the Audi Quattro RS 002 you see within the footage. The oddly formed machine resides in Audi’s museum in Ingolstadt these days and is in working, operating order. It seems like nothing else on the planet and has a weirdly brief construct and a smooth aerodynamic profile ending with that vast rear wing. Much like the Toyota and Lancia developed for Group S, the two.1-litre five-cylinder engine within the Audi Quattro RS 002 produced effectively over 600bhp. It’s stated that because of all that energy and low weight, this automotive had the potential to crack 300kph. It’s completely insane to think about rocketing alongside on dust roads by crowds of individuals in a machine corresponding to this.
Regardless of Group S by no means coming to fruition, we’re fortunate these vehicles nonetheless exist as we speak. Although they by no means raced and had an opportunity to stay as much as their potential, they continue to be of historic significance and had been a proving floor for know-how.