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Lancia

Lancia Monte Carlo 037 at speed Lancia Delta S4 at speed

The first official Group B rally car was the Lancia 037, introduced in 1983, to take advantage of the liberal rules permitted by the new Group B category. The 037 was designed as a rear-wheel-drive car, because of the uncertainty surrounding Audi's four-wheel-drive experiment. The 325-horsepower 037 was a superb tarmac car, and it was more reliable than the Quattro, so drivers Walter R÷hrl and Markku Alen brought Lancia the constructor's crown in its debut season. However, advancing technology rapidly rendered the 037 obsolete; in 1984, it was already showing its age, and by 1985 it was really just an also-ran.

The Lancia team was pinning their hopes on the new Delta S4, which was set to make its introduction late in the 1985 season. The team was not to be disappointed. The S4, one of the most advanced cars ever built, was the only car ever built with a turbo- and supercharged engine, in order to provide maximum boost at all RPM ranges. The complex system, developed in association with Abarth, used a supercharger to provide most of the boost at lower RPM (because a turbo suffers from lag at lower engine speeds), and a turbocharger pressurized the engine at higher RPMs (because a supercharger is less efficient at higher RPMs). The 500+ hp engine took time to perfect, but the results were worth waiting for. Lancia and Abarth managed to successfully synchronize the turbo- and supercharger, so there was a smooth transition from one to the other, and Markku Alen and Henri Toivonen were bestowed with the honour of driving for the Lancia factory during the 1986 season.

The first rally contested by the S4, the 1985 RAC rally, was a very convincing 1-2 finish for the team, with young Toivonen receiving the first place trophy. Lancia started the 1986 season in the same fashion as they concluded the 1985 season, but the death of Toivonen in Corsica was a devastation to the team, and to the entire rally community. Lancia lost the 1986 titles after a hard-fought battle with Peugeot, but the S4 did win the 1986 European championship in the hands of Fabrizio Tabaton. It was, however, a hollow victory following Toivonen's death.