Motorsport has long been regulated through rules and technical standards. In order to race competitively, each car in a category must meet a number of requirements, and the event must also be run to a set standard. The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile or FIA as it is knownis the largest and most established governing body, founded in 1904. The FIA’s regulations are intended to enable competitive racing while at the same time making it as safe as possible.
One of the categories under their jurisdiction is the World Rally Championship (WRC). After a series of fatalities, Group B, which allowed modified vehicles, was banned. Instead, the Group A regulations came into effect in 1987. Competing cars had to be heavily based on a production model. Here are 10 of the best Group A rally cars to ever compete.
10 Ford Escort RS Cosworth
The Ford Escort RS Cosworth took part in the World Rally Championship Group A between 1993 and 1998. The car was renamed Escort WRC in 1997 before being replaced by the Ford Focus RS WRC in 1999.
The car won several WRC titles. To compete in this category, Ford had to produce a road version of the car. This requirement is known as homologation and 2500 units were produced. A 2.0-litre Cosworth engine mated to a seven-speed gearbox provided the power.
9 Mitsubishi EVO VI
Mitsubishi EVO VI was released in 1999, the sixth generation of the car. Driver Tommi Mäkinen took the car to victory 4 times in a row in the WRC Driver’s Championship. The Finnish driver is one of the most successful WRC racers ever, with most of his success having been achieved in the Evo VI.
The car was powered by a 2.0 liter engine developing 304 horsepower. The turbo engine was mated to a sequential six-speed manual transmission.
8 Subaru Impreza WRX ST
The Impreza WRX STI made its first appearance at a WRC event at the 1993 Rally Finland. Arguably one of the most famous rally cars, it performed well, winning three consecutive manufacturer titles. While other cars have had more success, the Impreza WRX STI is an icon. It grew in popularity when legendary racing driver Colin McRae was at the wheel.
The car was produced in collaboration with Prodrive, a British racing engineering company.
7 Lancia Delta Group A
The Lancia Delta Group A made its debut in the 1987 World Rally Championship at the Monte Carlo Rally. The car performed well, scoring 46 WRC victories in its lifetime. The car also won the Constructors’ Championship six times in a row, from 1987 to 1992.
The Group A was powered by a 2.0-litre engine producing 265 hp, 100 hp more than the street-legal version.
6 Sierra Cosworth 2WD
Before the launch of the Ford Escort RS Cosworth, the Sierra Cosworth was Ford’s Group A racer. When the road-going Sierra was released in 1982, there was a distinct lack of interest. To stimulate demand, Ford selected the car that would be developed for motorsport.
The Cosworth engine greatly increased demand and enabled the car to compete in Group A rally events. The powerful 2.0 liter Cosworth unit produced 204 horsepower. However, the power was only sent to the rear wheels. The road car could go from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds and then to a top speed of 149 mph.
5 BMW E30 M3
BMW produced the E30 M3 between 1986 and 1991. In order to homologate the model for racing and rally use, a first batch of 5000 road-legal cars was produced. The car proved very popular and more than 17,000 were made.
The rally version of the car was built in collaboration with Prodrive, a British racing engineering company. The car leads BMW to victory in its debut season, with a win in the Rallye de France in Corsica.
4 Nissan R32 Skyline GT-R
JDM legend, the R32 Skyline GT-R was an ideal candidate for a rally conversion. The car was powered by a twin-turbo six-cylinder inline engine with an output of 276 hp. Off-road was a four-wheel drive system that provided excellent grip.
In the rally version, the engine was modified to produce 440 hp. Prior to the Group A competition, a series of other changes were required, such as suspension adjustments and the addition of a roll cage.
3 Toyota Celica GT-Four
The Toyota Celica GT-Four is widely regarded as one of the most successful rally cars from Japan. The car debuted in 1988 and raced until its replacement, the Toyota Corolla WRC, appeared in 1997.
During the car’s rally career, 30 WRC victories were achieved. Three generations of the car, the ST165, ST185 and ST205, ensured the success of the model. Nine different drivers competed in the car, one of the most successful was Carlos Sainz, the father of current Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Junior.
2 Nissan Pulsar GTi-R
The Nissan Pulsar GTi-R competed in the 1991 and 1992 WRC championships. The car was the high-performance version of the fourth-generation Pulsar.
The car was equipped with Nissan’s ATTESA all-wheel drive, which gave it a better competitive edge against other 4×4 competitors in Group A. The car was powered by a 2.0-litre turbo engine producing 162 kW, combined with a five-speed manual transmission. The compact car could go from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.4 seconds.
1 Peugeot 306 Maxi
The Peugeot 306 Maxi was powered by a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine that could run at over 10,000 rpm. Unlike some other Group A competitors, the car had front-wheel drive instead of four-wheel drive.
The 306 Maxi, driven by Gilles Panizzi, took podiums in Spain and Corsica.
This is the car Citroën built to compete against the best rally cars in the world
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