When Talbot clinched the WRC manufacturers’ title in 1981 with Toivonen and Guy Fréquelin in Sunbeam Lotuses, it provided the impetus for the parent company in France to design, build and develop a revolutionary 4WD for rallying.
The 205 T16 was homologated in April 1984 and made its WRC debut on the Tour of Corsica at the beginning of May: Vatanen led until crashing at two-thirds distance and Jean-Pierre Nicolas finished fourth. After that, Vatanen won five WRC rounds in a row and Peugeot took the manufacturers’ title and Timo Salonen the drivers’ in ’85.
The T16 on parade here was lent by Peugeot UK and was the car that Mikael Sundstrom drove in the 1986 British Championship, winning the Scottish Rally. Sadly, it was not driveable so Stig was unable to renew his acquaintance with this advanced machine.
Blomqvist drove twice for Peugeot in the WRC, taking a break from his Ford contract in 1986 to substitute for a ‘tired’ Salonen in the mid-season Argentina and 1000 Lakes: he finished third and fourth respectively. The car he drove was the second evolution 205 T16 E2. This was homologated exactly one year after its predecessor, April 1,1985. Internally, the engine underwent a series of mods, including a new cylinder head without siamesed ports, a Garrett turbo in place of the original KKK, a water-based intercooler and water injection. The rear chassis was now a spaceframe and the car sported a much larger front airdam and rear wing. A six-speed gearbox was also now available.
The E2 was equally successful in 1986, carrying Peugeot to its second crown and Kankkunen to his first drivers’ title.
Blomqvist’s view: The Peugeot was more specialised. The Audi was more of a converted road car: no central engine and, when we started, no centre differential or clever controls. The Peugeot had all those things. They were playing around with plate differentials and viscous couplings and others. And by the time I got to drive one it had a lot of sophisticated things.
It was lighter than the Audi. It was certainly quicker. But still I preferred the Audi for the 1000 Lakes: it did what I wanted so I could trust it. The Peugeot was a bit strange upon landing after a jump. All those cars with the engine in the back are bit funny like that. Today. I am sure, they could control that with better suspensions, but it was a problem back then. And it would have been better for the 205 if the [transverse, mid-mounted] engine had been rotating the other way – when you took off and lifted off the throttle, the gyroscopic effect made the car dip at the front. We tried adjusting the wing to make it better. but it always had that little dip.