Group B rally racing was so crazy, after a series of major accidents, it was banned
Of all of the racing I have seen my lifetime, the most insane racing for me is by far Group B rally racing. So crazy was Group B rally car racing that it was eventually banned for being too dangerous for drivers and spectators alike. To this day, I don’t think that there has been anything quite like it that I am aware of.
Group B was a set of regulations introduced in 1982 for competition vehicles in sportscar racing and rallying regulated by the FIA. The Group B regulations enabled some of the fastest, most powerful and sophisticated rally cars ever built and is known as the golden age of rallying. Outright speed and a lack of crowd control was cited as the cause of several major accidents, some of them fatal that brought about the demise of Group B.
Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto in the 1986 Tour de Corse was the turning point for Group B. After the accident, the FIA disestablished the class, dropped plans to replace it with Group S, and instead replaced it with Group A, a milder class of rallying.
Group B Regulations had few restrictions on technology, design, and the number of cars required for homologation. Only 200 vehicles were needed for a vehicle to be homologated, less than any other series.
Additional characteristics of Group B include keeping the weight of the vehicle as low as possible, the permitted use of high-tech materials, and no restrictions on boost. Before Group B, power output of winning cars was 250 horsepower. By the time Group B was banned, there were two cars producing an excess of 500 horsepower. In a period of five years, power output of rally cars had doubled. Keep in mind that from the onset, these cars are designed to be as light as possible. The result was incredible speed and performance.
From the onset Group B was a very successful group. Many manufacturers rushed to join the premier World Rally Championship and the number of spectators had increased considerably. By the time the 1986 season rolled around, the cost of competing had increased substantially, and cars had become increasingly fast and powerful, resulting in a series of fatal crashes. Shortly thereafter, Group B was cancelled at the end of 1986 and Group A because the standard until World Rally Cars in 1997.
In the meantime, enjoy the sites, sounds and insanity of Group B in the video below.