In this page you can find answers to the most common questions pertaining to the Group B regulations and era of the World Rally Championship!
- What is Group B?
- What does the FISA/FIA acronyms stand for?
- Was Group B created specifically for rallying?
- Although it was introduced in 1982, why is Group B sometimes considered to have begun only in 1983?
- How long did Group B last?
- Why was Group B banned?
- What was the replacement class for Group B?
- Were ALL Group B cars banned?
- Is the Lancia Stratos a Group B car?
- Where can I purchase a Group B car?
- How fast were Group B rally cars?
- Which cars are faster around the rally stages, Group B or today’s WRC?
- Why was Group B so awesome?
- SUBMIT A QUESTION
Q: What is Group B?
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.
Q: 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”.
Q: 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 pressure from the BPICA and due to financial reasons for the FISA. Also, it was hoped that Group B would be used in circuit racing to replace the “silhouette” Group 5 racers (more information about why FISA Group B circuit racing did not really take off can be found by CLICKING HERE!).
Q: Although it was introduced in 1982, why is Group B sometimes considered to have begun only 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 a sort of transition year. 1983 was when car manufacturers were obligated to have 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.
Q: 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 and hill climb well into the 1990s.
Q: Why was Group B banned?
A: The highly accepted answer is that, due to grave safety concerns after multiple accidents which led to the deaths of both 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 about in the RISE AND FALL OF GROUP B page.
Q: What was the replacement class for Group B?
A: The FISA had planned to use the Group S regulations originally drafted in 1985. The class was originally scheduled to make its debut on January 1st 1988, then 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), but 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.
Q: 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 who 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 up until the expiration of their homologation, albeit some rally organisations prevented them from scoring points.
Q: Is the Lancia Stratos a Group B car?
A: No, the Stratos was homologated for Group 4 in 1974 and was designed 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 Lancia Rallye 037 is considered its spiritual successor and shares many design features with the Stratos.
Q: Where can I purchase a Group B car?
A: Since they were produced in such limited numbers, Group B homologation cars are very rare, and the rally cars even rarer. They are also both very expensive and mostly unattainable for the average person. However, some lesser homologation models can be found in various classified sites mostly around Europe. Nearly all rally cars are now owned by museums 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 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 thing, are the cheapest and easiest way to get the feeling of owning a Group B machine.
Q: How fast were Group B rally cars?
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.
Q: 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 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 prone to overheating and sluggish to respond, 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 the 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 tire technologies have also come a long way since the 1980s. This all means that, even though WRC cars make only about 60-65% 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 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.
Q: Why was Group B so awesome?
A: This question is highly personal to each individual but some key elements always come back. Please CLICK HERE to find out the Shrine’s owner personal answer (and share your own!).
DO YOU HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION ABOUT GROUP B? PLEASE USE THIS FORM BELOW AND IT MIGHT BE FEATURED HERE!
- Your question might be rejected for any number of reasons. Please remain courteous and use good grammar when submitting.
- Please allow up to 72 hours for a reply.
All questions were answered by Jay Auger – the Rally Group B Shrine’s owner and author.