The Lancia Stratos was the first purpose built rally car from the Italian marque that went on to win three manufacturers titles, a feat that was not beaten until the Integrale. The Stratos was styled by none other than Marcello Gandini of Bertone, who created the iconic wedge shape of the Stratos. The car was powered by a 2.4L Ferrari V6 in both the Stradale and Corsa versions of the car. The Group 4 version produced 280bhp and the car underwent different bodywork variations in its time. The early cars ran without a rear spoiler giving the car a more clean look at the cost of rear grip. For 1975 the rear spoiler was introduced along with the start of the Iconic Alitalia sponsorship. In the hands of the works drivers and privateers the car began on an incredible string of successes including 18 WRC victories and three world championships. The Stratos remains one of the most recognisable rally cars of all time.
The Lancia Rally/037
The Lancia 037 was the first Group B car built by the Italian team. The car was a successor to the highly successful Stratos which won three world titles. The car was introduced at the 1982 Costa Smeralda Rally with cars two but they both retired with gearbox issues. The car produced 265bhp in its opening events until with the aid of water injection the engine was boosted to 300bhp. The rest of 1982 was a development year to remove all the issues with the car and as a result the Lancia team hit the ground running in 1983 despite a large amount of retirements in 1982. With Walter Rohrl and Markku Alen at the wheel for the 1983 season, the Monte Carlo Rally was a sign of things to come with Rohrl winning and Alen finishing in second. Rohrl only did selected events that he enjoyed but that was enough for the car beat the Audi Quattro to the Constructors title in 1983. As a result it was the last rear wheel drive car to win a Constructors title in the WRC. For 1984 Lancia introduced a second evolution model with power up to 325bhp, but it was not enough to be a competitive all round package despite winning the Tour De Corse Rally with Alen. The 037 had a lot of success in regional championships with Miki Biasion winning the European Rally Championship in 1983, Carlo Capone in 1984 and Dario Cerrato in 1985. 1985 Proved to be a tough year for the Lancia squad. At the Tour De Corse Rally Attilio Bettega was killed when he lost control of his car and hit a tree head on, killing him instantly. His co driver Maurizio Perissinot escaped uninjured. The long awaited replacement, the Delta S4 was not due until the end of the season. The 037 remains today one of the finest Rally cars ever produced and they are still being rallied sucessfully today.
The Delta S4
The Lancia Delta S4 was arguably the greatest interpretation of the Group B rules. When Audi introduced the Quattro Lancia knew the 037 would soon become obsolite. From this point it was clear that the next car would have to include a 4WD system. This is exactly what Lancia did when the long journey to build the S4 started. After some delays the car was introduced in 1985 with its first World Championship appearance being the 1985 RAC Rally. Lancia set out with two cars for Markku Alen (chassis 207) and Henri Toivonen (chassis 202) and immediately showed the great pace of the new car. Henri Toivonen went on to win the event with Markku Alen in second place. The most famous aspect of the S4 is its unique 1,759 cc Turbocharged and Supercharged engine with a maximum of 2bar of boost developing near 600bhp. This paired with a 980kg weight gave the car fast acceleration and a nimble handling.
The Lancia Delta S4 was arguably the greatest interpretation of the Group B rules.
The success followed on from the RAC to the 1986 season with Toivonen winning the 1986 Rally Monte Carlo despite being involved in a collision between stages which required work to be carried out at the road side by the Lancia/Abarth mechanics. However 1986 was to be a tough year for the Turin team. At the Tour De Corse Rally, Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto were killed in an accident while leading the rally. The Lancia team continued on with the rest of the season and after many tough rallies, Markku Alen was crowned Champion. However it was not to be as after the Sanremo Rally, the points were dropped after the Peugeots were excluded for having illegal sideskirts. Markku Alen and Lancia lost the world championship only 12 days after they were crowned champions. The Delta S4 remains one of the greatest cars ever to be seen on the World Rally Championship.
The Delta HF4WD and Integrale
After the demise of Group B in 1986 FISA introduced a new set of rules for the 1987 season limiting the amount of modifications available to standard road cars. Lancia used the HF4WD as a basis for their Group A car and from the start, Lancia scored a 1-2 finish at the 1987 Monte Carlo Rally with Miki Biasion winning the event. Juha Kankkunen went on to win the drivers championship with the HF4WD and Lancia won the manufacturers title. Lancia introduced the Integrale at the 1988 Rally Portugal and again it won on its first outing with Miki Biasion. Biasion went on to win two drivers titles in 1988 and 1989 for lancia. After this Lancia introduced a 16V engine for the integrale at the 1988 Sanremo. In typical fashion Biasion went on to win the event with team mate Didier Auriol crashing out. Success was also found at European level. From 1987 to 1991 the Delta won the European Rally Championship with Dario Cerrato in 1987, Fabrizio Tabaton in 1988, Yves Loubet in 1989, Robert Droogmans in 1990 and Piero Liatti in 1991. At the end of 1991 lancia retired from the rallying scene after winning a record breaking 5 titles. However for 1992 the operations were handed over to Jolly Club with factory assistance. The team introduced the most famous Integrale Evo known as the “Deltona” for the 1992 season. More success was on the cards with Didier Auriol, Juha Kankkunen, Andrea Aghini, Philippe Bugalski, Jorge Recalde, and Bjorn Waldegard driving the Martini cars the team won the title again for the 6th time. A record that still stands today. For 1993 Jolly Club continued with the Integrale with Carlos Sainz, Andrea Aghini and Gustavo Trelles and with split sponsorship. Sainz and Trelles ran in Repsol colours and Aghini ran Totip. With limited development the car struggled with Sainz and the success was not to be repeated. The cars last victory was with Andrea Aghini at the italians home event, the 1992 Sanremo Rally.
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Thanks for taking the time to read this article and there will be some more content in the near future.
A pleasure to take time to read things like this
Thanks. i have plenty of other articles in more and less detail further down my page