Not such a good start: Metro 6R4 and BX 4TC
Austin Rover’s assault on the 1986 WRC got off to an inauspicious start, with both MG Metro 6R4s retiring early.
Buoyed by an exceptional third place on the car’s debut – the 1985 RAC Rally – a couple of months earlier, drivers Tony Pond and Malcolm Wilson headed south to the French Alps with high hopes. The car might have struggled to match the powerful Audis, but it was 100kg lighter than the German machine.
And, potentially more driveable in the changeable conditions; the absence of a turbo limited power, but it also meant zero lag and gave near immediate throttle response for the Brits.
Unfortunately, neither Pond or Wilson had ever competed on the Monte before and would struggle against drivers with vastly more experience of the stages and conditions.
In the end, Pond was withdrawn after suffering steering problems on the first loop. The rack on his car was changed, but when it tightened again after SS6 – actually causing him to crash into the welcome to Aix-les-bains sign, ARG team principal John Davenport took the decision to withdraw the car.
Wilson was running inside the top 10 when he retired in Burzet. His car lost drive to the rear on the way up to the col, with the front differential giving up on the way down.
Citroen was also starting on its WRC adventure with the BX 4TC. This car was almost as short on testing as it was on power and it came as no surprise when the mechanics were still working furiously on both cars before the start.
Philippe Wambergue’s car retired on stage two when the hydropneumatic suspension collapsed. Jean-claude Andruet made it through the first loop before going off the road on the second day. His exit was arguably hastened by similar suspension troubles.