News: End of Group B

Fatal shunt and `supercar' ban

There was a time when rallying not only sold motor cars but also helped develop new ones. Alas, today the sport can hardly be said to fulfil either function. Popular identification with the cars of rally drivers is a phenomenon of the past, and what possible production purpose can there be in perfecting a specialised Metro, Delta, Peugeot 205 or Ford RS200 which has little hope of ever finding its way into a suburban driveway?

The tragic accident in Corsica which claimed the lives of Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto produced an immediate reaction from FISA, and a meeting in Ajaccio of executive committee members declared that steps would be taken to cease all further homologations of 'evolution' cars, to limit the duration and length of special stages, to ban certain body materials and 'skirts', to make automatic fire extinguishers mandatory, to cancel the proposed Group S and, from Jan 1, to prohibit GpB cars, and to create a new world championship exclusively for GpA cars, of which 5000 manufactured examples are necessary for homologation.

The announcement drew murmurs of horses and stable doors, but we nevertheless found ourselves in the unfamiliar situation of agreeing, in principle, with a FISA decision, at least insofar as the vehicle proposals are concerned; the question of limiting distance and duration is quite another matter.

It would have been better for all concerned had these new rules been introduced gradually; better still had they not been necessary.

To those who may wail that spectacle and excitement will diminish we offer a reminder that the Mini, the Lotus Cortina, the Saab 96 and many others were all highly exciting to be in and to watch.

Rallying is not an engineering science, it is a sport, and it's high time its make-up be revitalised with an ingredient which has been hidden by technicalities for too long.
June 1986