When someone mentions Group B, enthusiasts’ minds immediately recall thoughts of monstrous racers with insane amounts of horsepower, wild body kits, and incredible danger. Danger. That’s the one reason why Group B was not long for this world.
Donut Media dedicated a whole episode to the history of Group B rally racing, tracing its rise, and quick fall from popularity. The group, started in 1984, became so popular because regulations were nearly inexistent, unlike Group A. The cars needed to have two seats, could not have an open roof, and a minimum weight calculated by engine and tire displacement. Everything else was fair game.
Naturally, Group B became a hotbed for manufacturers to explore engineering and concoct the best setup to win races, which took place on snow, gravel, and asphalt. Automakers were boosting engines past 500 horsepower in the mid-1980s and fitting cutting edge aerodynamics and suspensions in the name of claiming victory. These racers birthed some of the most iconic vehicles to this day since homologation requirements meant 200 cars were needed for production. Think the Lancia Delta, Audi Sport Quattro S1 Ford RS200, and so many more.
But, for all the incredible engineering and amazing cars, Group B was a treacherous league. It’s this factor that would lead to its demise. In 1986, an accident in Portugal made many begin considering Group B’s future. A driver attempted to avoid a group of spectators, but in the process, caused himself to skid into the crowd. The crash left 31 injured and three dead, and top teams immediately pulled out from the group.
Then, promising Group B stars Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto blew past an unguarded corner just four miles into the Tour de Corsa. The Lancia racer careened down a hillside and exploded. Both men died in the wreck. And like that, Group B was over. The FIA banned all Group B cars in 1987, and closed the chapter of an incredible, yet dangerous, era of motorsports.