Why Group B is so attractive, and I wasn’t even born!

As a 21 year old, Group B had been and gone before I was born (unfortunately!), but yet it’s an era of world rallying that is not only my favourite, but an era that started my desire to chase a career in motorsport.

My first experience of Group B was at Rallyday 2001, the very first edition held at Castle Combe race circuit, England. Having seen video footage and read articles about these fire-spitting, stage shredding monsters, I needed to see these machines in person. I was only 10/11 years of age at the time but I was fascinated by these cars – most of the other children at my age would spend their time reading ‘Match of the day’ or ‘Beano’ magazines, whereas I would be reading old ‘Autosport’s’ or ‘Rally Sport’ magazines.

Straight away, I near enough realised why I had so much interest in an era of rallying that I wasn’t around for… Two legends of the sport were parked side-by-side in the paddock, and as a young kid, this was pretty much as good as it got! Two ex-works cars, an Audi quattro A2 and a Lancia 037 stood next to one another. It was the sound of the quattro that stood with me after seeing it in action; no video footage can replicate the sound of that 5 cylinder engine roaring by. The rest they say is history; from that day onwards, my passion to understand and experience Group B again, grew.

Having been around Group B for literally half my life, it feels more than just a by-gone era of rallying. It was a team game, maybe more-so than today’s era of world rallying. Competitors would fight over hundreds of kilometres on many a gruelling event, but there were teams of tens of people making sure everything ran as smooth as it could, with essential updates for a car ready to try set them above the competition. The ethos behind the sport was one of determination, no matter the issue, if there was a slight chance it could be improved or fixed, they made it happen.

I do wonder if any of the younger generation has an interest in this legendary era. I was fortunate to grow up in a family with a rallying background, so you could say it was in my blood.  The preservation of these machines is so important; I got bitten-by-the-bug after seeing these insane, yet beautiful machines in the flesh, so I think there is a need to keep these cars in action. Maybe not just to see 205 T16’s, Delta S4’s et al flying around a demonstration stage, but to keep the history and heritage alive.

Modern world rallying could learn something or two from its very vibrant past, but that’s another story…

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