Why the 2017 cars are be­ing her­alded as the next evo­lu­tion of Group B mon­sters

Motor Sport News - - Insight: Wrc In The Media -

Group B’s back. But it’s back with a hint of health and safety. That’s a pretty fair as­sess­ment of the next gen­er­a­tion of World Rally Cars that broke cover in Monte Carlo last month. It’s cer­tainly the pop­u­lar view. But what does it ac­tu­ally mean? These cars are go­ing to be streets ahead of Lan­cia’s Delta S4 or Audi’s quat­tro in terms of pace, poise and all­round per­for­mance. So what’s the Group B thing all about?

It’s about the drama. Around the same time that Jean Todt was won­der­ing when ral­ly­ing went all day­time sen­si­ble, he was also ask­ing him­self what had hap­pened to the cars. When he left, Peu­geot’s hottest hatch was send­ing 500 horses to a wheel at each cor­ner of a space­frame chas­sis, with the whole thing cov­ered in a body made for a bed­room wall.

When he re­turned, he found a Ford Fo­cus and Citroen C4.

In his mind, some­thing had to change. Seven years on and we’re here.

Here with un­doubt­edly the most ex­cit­in­glook­ing rally cars since the end of 1986. Hav­ing watched them all in test­ing, and live on the Monte, those looks cer­tainly trans­late to pace on the road. Most im­pres­sive are the third and fourthgear cor­ners, where the ex­tra power hooks it­self up through the ac­tive cen­tre ‘diff to start to gen­er­ate

some se­ri­ous down­force from the aero. This per­for­mance is de­liv­ered with a level of vi­o­lence not seen since the early days of Group A cars – the ones with 38mm re­stric­tors. And, of course, Group B.

Mid-eight­ies bru­tal­ity was tem­pered with the on­set of trans­mis­sion tech­nol­ogy by the mid-nineties, but now there’s real fi­nesse to such a fierce­ness of pace. Even mud-cov­ered, and be­fore it’s done more than a sin­gle rally, the 2017 car is a work of art.

Audi quat­tro was mighty

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