In this page you can find answers to the most common questions pertaining to the Group B regulations, cars and era of the World Rally Championship!
- Q1: What was Group B in motorsport?
- Q2: What does the FISA/FIA acronyms stand for?
- Q3: Was Group B created specifically for rallying?
- Q4: Although it was introduced in 1982, why is Group B mainly considered to have begun in 1983?
- Q5: Were there really no rules for Group B cars?
- Q6: How long did Group B last?
- Q7: Why was Group B banned?
- Q8: What was the replacement class for Group B?
- Q9: Were ALL Group B cars banned?
- Q10: Is the Lancia Stratos a Group B car?
- Q11: Where can I purchase a Group B car?
- Q12: How quick were Group B rally cars and what were their top speed?
- Q13: Which cars are faster around the rally stages, Group B or today’s WRC?
- Q14: When did other rally cars post better stage times than Group B’s?
- Q15: Why was Group B so awesome?
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Q1: What was Group B in motorsport?
A: Group B was a set of sporting regulations introduced by the FISA (former ruling committee of the FIA) in 1982. It effectively replaced the previous Groups 4 & 5.
Q2: What does the FISA / FIA acronyms stand for?
A: The “FISA” is the “Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile” and was the former ruling committee in charge of all sporting regulations in motor racing for the “FIA – Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile”.
Q3: Was Group B created specifically for rallying?
A: No, in fact Group B was originally voted to be outlawed in rallying but was ultimately allowed back due to pressure from the BPICA and due to political reasons for the FISA. Also, it was hoped that Group B would be used in circuit racing to replace the previous Group 4 Grand Tourers and, in part, the “silhouette” Group 5 racers through the “ET” evolution feature. (More information about why FISA Group B circuit racing did not really take off can be found by CLICKING HERE!)
Q4: Although it was introduced in 1982, why is Group B often considered to have begun in 1983?
A: Delays in approving Group B for rallying within the FISA meant that most car manufacturers were not ready for the 1982 WRC competition year and used mostly Group 4 carryover cars. Hence 1982 was officially a transition year. 1983 was when car manufacturers were obligated to have valid Group B homologation to allow their seeded drivers to score points. As such 1983 is often referred to as the real beginning of Group B.
Q5: Were there really no rules for Group B Cars?
A: In fact they were quite a few, but they mostly impacted how little the cars could weigh and how wide they could make their tyre combinations. These were decided through calculated engine displacement. There however were not many limitations on car design and the category was without a horsepower limit. The low production numbers required for homologation, a mere 200 units, allowed for bespoke designs. (Full Group B regulations are available HERE!)
Q6: How long did Group B last?
A: 1986 was the last year of official Group B competition in the WRC before being banned. However, post-evolution and variations of Group B cars competed in other venues such as Rallycross, Grand Raid and Hill Climb well into the 1990s.
Q7: Why was Group B banned?
A: The highly accepted answer is that, due to grave safety concerns after multiple accidents which led to the death of multiple spectators and drivers, the FISA choose to ban Group B cars from competition effective for the 1987 season. However, the complete answer is much more complex, which you can learn in the RISE AND FALL OF GROUP B page.
Q8: What was the replacement class for Group B?
A: The FISA had first planned to use the Group S regulations drafted in 1985. The class was originally scheduled to make its debut on January 1st 1988, later as a forceful replacement to Group B for 1987, but both ideas were ultimately cancelled. As such, the only remaining solution was to make Group A (touring cars directly based on production models) which had a good safety record since it replaced Group 1, 2, and 3 in 1982, as the new top class in the WRC, effective January 1st 1987. (You can fully read about Group S history HERE.)
Q9: Were ALL Group B cars banned?
A: No, the ban on the Group B cars would ultimately be limited to the B/12 & B/11 “supercar” sub-classes: cars that ran engines of more than 1600 cc (including with the 1.4 multiplier for forced induction). Lower tier B/9 and B/10 cars were allowed to compete in their standard form up until the expiration of their respective homologation, albeit many rally organisations thereafter prevented them from scoring championship points.
Q10: Is the Lancia Stratos a Group B car?
A: No, the Stratos was homologated for Group 4 in 1974 and was designed nearly a whole decade before Group B. Its purposeful looks makes it often mistaken as being a Group B car in popular culture and social media. Furthermore, its homologation had expired before Group B started thus preventing privateers to compete with the car in the WRC. However, the Group B Lancia Rallye 037 is considered its spiritual successor and shares many design features with the Stratos.
Q11: Where can I purchase a Group B car?
A: Since they were produced in such limited numbers, 200 for road cars (sometimes less due to cheating), it makes them very rare, and the rally cars even rarer (20 units per evolution use). They were and remain both very expensive and mostly unattainable for the average person’s salary. However, some lesser quality and less famous homologation models can be found in various classified sites mostly around Europe. Nearly all rally cars are now owned by museums, by historical organisations, or are in private collections and very rarely come up for sale. However, the best place to look for these are in high-profile auctions, again mostly around Europe. Owning a genuine Group B rally car is a badge of honour: you will most likely be entered into a registry and be held to some standards about the custody of the car. Replicas, although not the real deal, are the cheapest and easiest way to get the feeling of owning a Group B machine.
Q12: How quick were Group B rally cars and what were their top speed?
A: A few independent performance tests were performed in Europe at the peak of Group B (1985-86). The most powerful of the bunch achieved the 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) dash in about two and a half seconds on tarmac; Lancia Delta S4 (2.4s), Peugeot 205 T16 E2 (2.6s), Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 (2.6s), MG Metro 6R4 (3.4s). Walter Röhrl also reported that his Audi made the 0-200 kph (0-124 mph) dash in about 10 seconds.
As for top speeds, rally gearing as always been close ratio including Group B days; even the most powerful Group B cars topped out at around 200 kph (124 mph) or less – but their strength lied in getting at those speeds very quickly. Only in specific events such as the 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland did the ratios used were a bit longer, but the extra gearing rarely allowed for over 220 or 230 kph (135~140 mph) in the straights. Of course, the most powerful cars could in theory go much faster with proper gearing but the immense lag associated with these early big turbo cars would then be very difficult to avoid and control – making overall stage times worse.
Q13: Which cars are faster around the rally stages, Group B or today’s WRC?
A: Comparing the two goes back to the adage of comparing a caveman with a spiked club to a modern soldier with a rifle: both are deadly but both achieve their might in a much different way.
Group B rally cars, albeit they packed the latest technology of the mid-1980s, were primitive brutes; there were no high-tech electronic driving aids, four-wheel drive technology was closer to what you would find on a farm tractor, the suspensions were sluggish and prone to overheating, and the engine powerbands were very narrow (high-RPM) with very average torque figures. Anti-lag measures involved mostly the use of LFB (left-foot braking). In short, driveability was very poor and the cars a real challenge to drive to their full potential: this was confirmed by all modern WRC drivers who had the opportunity to also test drive a Group B car.
Today’s WRC cars pack technology that was never even dreamed of in the Group B days such as fully integrated electronic controls which basically gives them the ability to transfer 100% of the drivetrain power down to the road; shifts are ultra fast, turbo lag non-existent, the suspension and differentials adaptive, and tyre technologies have also come a long way since the 1980s. This all means that, even though WRC cars make only about 60-65% (even more since 2017) of the power of the best Group B cars, they are ultimately faster around a rally stage and post better times. However, in a straight off tarmac drag race to their top speed, the best Group B cars would more than likely beat a WRC. In the end, Juha Kankkunen’s statement that “WRC is for boys, Group B was for men” truly represents the different nature of the cars and the different challenge in driving them.
Q14: When did more recent rally cars post better stage times than Group B’s?
A: Due to much advances in technologies; i.e. tires, suspension, differentials and electronics, Group B stage times started to get bested at the height of Group A cars in the mid 1990s – just before World Rally Car regulations took over in 1997.
The best Group B cars however held their records on the fastest stages, i.e. 1000 Lakes (Finland) until around the early 2000s when even these times were henceforth improved on by the state of the art WRC cars.
Q15: Why was Group B so awesome?
A: This question is highly personal to each individual, but it’s far too easy to fall into hyped social-media banter. Real Group B fans know it is much deeper than a simple answer. Please CLICK HERE to find out the Rally Group B Shrine owner’s much complex response to this question.
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F.A.Q. answered by Jay Auger – website owner, main author & chief editor
Special Thanks to fan submitted questions;
- Vic (Q14)
- Patrick Mukora (Q12 – Top Speeds)
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