Home Jaguar E-Type The Insanely Dangerous Group B Rally Championship

The Insanely Dangerous Group B Rally Championship

The Insanely Dangerous Group B Rally Championship


Championships like this remain forever recognized as ultimate moments in automobile history, never to be repeated or recreated, turning into legends passed to the next generation of racing fans. After some time, it is not about lap times, track records, or number of wins; it is about sheer excitement, iconic fire-breathing machines, fearless drivers, and deadly battles fought between the teams. When a racing series creates the same amount of interest, even 35 years after it was discontinued, you can be sure that this one of such championships. Yes, we are talking about mythical, fantastic, and incredibly dangerous Group B. 

The Facts

Group B was FIA-sectioned rally championship series that ran from 1982 to 1986. Established as top class in rally racing, it was basically a replacement for both Group 4 (modified grand touring) and Group 5 (touring prototypes) classes. Back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the main rally class was Group A, which was strictly production models, produced in at least 5000 examples with modifications and with various limitations on technology, displacement, and weight. 

FIA witnessed the rise of new technologies in racing, mainly turbocharging and all-wheel-drive trains, and wanted to create a class with modified vehicles, loosely based on production models that would use such systems. Combining Group 4 and Group 5 and creating a Group B, FIA managed to give the manufacturers a chance to experiment with technology with little limitations in terms of weight or displacement. The only homologation requirement was that the car must be produced in at least 200 examples to qualify for the championship. The basic shape and layout of the street-legal models must resemble the rally version. 

According to displacement, the Group B cars were divided into two smaller classes, which ran in the same events. Since all Group B models used turbocharged engines, FIA used a 1.4 equivalence factor (coefficient to multiply the engine displacement with) to place them into categories according to displacement. The 3.0-liter category consisted of vehicles with turbocharged engines with displacement up to 2.2-liters and up to 960 kilograms (2116 lbs) of weight. The other popular class was a 2.5-liter category in which cars with a displacement of 1.8 liters and a weight of up to 890 kilograms (1962 lbs) were allowed. 

Since the cost of development of Group B cars was enormous, this class was mostly limited to factory teams. This means that motorsport departments fought not only for the title but also for prestige, and to just that, money was not the object. Group B was developed by the best engineers and driven by the rally racing’s biggest names at the moment.  

The Cars

One of the most significant claims to fame of Group B was the cars and the fact that rally monsters of the early ’80s were something that the car industry never saw before or since. Heavily turbocharged, with power outputs ranging from 500 to 600 hp, massive turbo lags, and no driving aids, the Group B cars were often “faster than the driver’s thought.” To be honest, those rally beasts were downright frighting and capable of reaching 60 mph in 2.3 seconds. That is faster than the Bugatti Veyron, and the average Group B car did it on the gravel!

Audi Quattro S1

The first Group B legend was arguably the Audi Quattro S1, which took the manufacturer’s title in 1982 and 1984. Its fantastic combination of heavily turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine, carbon-kevlar body, massive aero made, and iconic Quattro all-wheel-drive train made it famous and revolutionary in the racing world. Until Group B, Audi was just dull and slightly upscale Volkswagen, but success in the rally racing and on Pikes Peak transformed it into the company it is today. 



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