In 1982, the FIA’s new “Group B” rulebook was left purposefully vague to lure the big auto-makers back into rallying. With hardly any restrictions on aero’, and budgets eventually matching and even exceeding those found in sportscars and Formula One, the four seasons of Group B racing went on to become rallying’s high-water mark. Manufacturers from MG to Porsche and Ferrari to Ford created hyper-quick racing monsters that became known as the Killer Bs and left the FIA, after just four seasons, no option but to pull the plug on the rulebook.
The year 1986 proved pivotal. Tragedy at the Portuguese Rally in the spring, followed by the death of rallying superstar Henri Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto in Corsica, along with mounting deaths and injuries to spectators, and with drivers complaining of tunnel vision, it all came to a head when Formula One driver Marc Surer lost control of his Killer B on live television in an accident that cost the life of his co-driver Michel Wyder.
Those tragedies, alongside shenanigans involving mechanical F1-derived “skirts” and other semi-banned technologies, meant the FIA had no option but to ban Group B outright.
That left manufacturers with the world’s fastest tin-top cars, enormous budgets, rally-stars on big salaries … and nowhere to race.
Enter the European Rallycross Championship.
After a bit of wrangling, Division 2 was opened-up to the Group B killer-cars, and for the next six years, the epic Lancia Deltas, Audi Sport quattros, MG Metro R4Rs, Renault 5 Maxi Turbos, and Ford RS200s renewed their rivalries.
These beasts ran until 1994 when the rules were altered to allow prototypes to enter the series which brought the curtain down on one of the greatest eras of motorsport.
If you like your action fast, quick and dirty, you’ve come to the right place. This is motorsport at its most primal, and the Fun Pack will bring three Group B cars to Project CARS 2, along with one of the original venues on which they ran―the scene of the British Rallycross Grand Prix from 1982 through 1995―Brands Hatch Rallycross Historic.
Ford RS200 Evolution―born from failure
In Group B racing, the Ford RS200 is about as iconic as it gets. Its birth, though, was sired by the failure of the Ford Escort RS 1700T, Ford’s initial foray into Group B that, by 1983, had shown itself as uncompetitive: a rear-wheel drive, heavy car with a 1.8-turbocharged engine that was wheezing its way to just over 300hp was never going to play with the Audis and Lancias.
Desperate, Ford even attempted to stick a Formula 2-derived, 2.4-litre Hart engine into the RS in late-1982, but all that did was prove that the platform was all wrong.
What was needed, Ford engineers decided, was a whole new car―built on a four-wheel drive system like the Audi quattro, with low weight like the Renault 5 Maxi, and a powerful engine that had to be stuck mid-ship like the Lancia Stratos. A costly enterprise, but one that the Ford execs were keen to bankroll―success in Group B, in the mid-’80s, had become that critical.
For the body, Ford turned to Ghia, the Turin-based design house that had been around since 1916: Ghia had found fame back in the late-’20s when they created aluminium-enclosed, light-weight Alfa Romeos, and were also, by the mid-’70s, branded on Ford’s cars to designate the top “trim-level”. (Nowadays, that’s been replaced by “Titanium”.)
For the new Ford, Ghia decided to design a car that would be enclosed in fiberglass-composite to save on weight, which meant British-based fiberglass-experts Reliant were contracted to build the actual body. For the chassis, Ford brought in Formula One-guru Tony Southgate who was tasked with developing a double wishbone suspension with twin dampers. The mid-mounted engine was a Ford-Cosworth “BDT” that, in full rally-spec’, was good for around 450bhp.
The car debuted in Group B in 1986. It would last just one year before the FIA pulled the plug. In that time, the RS would prove itself to be a serious handful; the turbo became legendary for its lag at low-revs, and the mid-mounted engine meant the car’s handling was difficult to master. In the right hands, though, it was a race winner.
The RS managed a podium at the WRC Rally of Sweden, but that result was swept away by the tragedies that followed shortly thereafter. For the RS program, this was devastating news as the car was still very much in mid-evolution. Indeed, for ’87, the RS was meant to be the subject of a large-scale upgrade that included a new power-unit―a 2.0-litre that gave extra low-RPM torque to combat the then-legendary lag. Brian Hart’s new engine would be capable―on max boost―of around 650bhp, and 0-100kmh in 2 seconds flat. (And that was on dirt).
It would go on to become a star of the nascent rallycross scene and you can now finally get your hands on the RS200 Evolution that is coming to the Project CARS 2 Fun Pack.
Renault 5 Turbo Maxi
If you were working in motorsport in 1978, Renault was probably the place you wanted to be. At Le Mans, the Project CARS 2-available Renault Alpine A442B was about to break Porsche’s dominance in sportscar racing. In Formula One, Renault’s turbo program was on the cusp of revolutionizing the series. And in world rally, Renault were about to return to the top with a new car, designed to bring the game back to the Ferrari-powered Lancia Stratos that had broken the dominance of the Renault Alpine A110s.
But fighting on so many fronts meant Renault could only assign a tiny budget to its rally program. Indeed, Renault’s VP of Production Jean Terramorsi’s brief to the engineers assigned with building a new rally car was simple; use an existing Renault production car, along with a production engine.
The problem was, the then-dominant Lancias were bespoke race cars with their Ferrari engines placed mid-ships. Renault had no such car available until Marc Deschamps at Bertone took a Renault 5, dragged the engine from the front to the middle, and swapped the front wheel drive system with rear wheel drive.
Terramorsi, months before he would pass away from a heart attack, loved the new “supermini” and assigned his budget along with four chosen engineers to work on “Project 822” at the Alpine factory out in Dieppe.
The car proved difficult to produce, particularly the engine. With no budget, finding a power unit fit for purpose proved frustrating: the V6 from the Renault 30 was far too heavy, and the 2-litre from the TS too clumsy. That’s when all eyes turned to the Renault 5 Alpine, a small engine out of Renault’s hot hatch that was pushing out about 90bhp.
For Renault, now masters of turbo-charging, the challenge was to boost this tiny little engine to be able to compete with the Ferrari Dino V6. By the time they were ready to roll their new prototype out on March 9, 1978, the 822-01 prototype was pushing out around 170bhp. Even better, the engine was light, which meant the car was precisely as had been projected; light, nimble, and quick, as Gérard Larrousse, Renault Sport’s Director, noted when he took the car for its first run.
With further lightening and work on handling complete, the new Renault 5 Alpine was ready for production in 1980. In 1981, at the season-opening Rally Monte Carlo, the new Renault won at a canter. But by 1983, with the new Group B rules, the car was made irrelevant by the new generation of super rally cars.
Renault would work hard at getting the 5 competitive for Group B. All that work culminated with the Fun Pack-bound Renault R5 Maxi Turbo. This featured a massively turbo-charged 1.5-litre engine with Renault’s bespoke mechanical anti-lag system (a first), and enough wings and wheel arches to keep the car firmly on the dirt. By the end of Group B, the Maxi 5 was pushing out close to 350hp on a car weighing in at 900KGs. With its rear-wheel drive and tiny body, the Maxi Turbo was very much the silhouette of the future of rallycross where it became an absolute legend.
Audi Sport quattro S1
The Audi quattro S1 was created specifically for the Group B regulations. It used Audi’s unique 5-cylinder turbo-charged engine from the original Audi quattro (that had changed the face of rallying when it debuted back in 1980), but upped the boost to push out around 350bhp. When it comes to Group B monsters, this was the poster child of all that was glorious about that era of rallying.
By 1984, Audi had perfected its four-wheel drive system and the Sport quattro was constructor’s and driver’s champion. For 1985, Audi brought the S1 to life. To keep the weight down―being four-wheel drive, weight was always a problem with the quattro―it had a body made of carbon-kevlar. With 650bhp on tap from a 2.1-litre turbocharged engine on a platform weighing in at just over 1,000KGs, wings on every surface, and a proven four-wheel drive system, it was a revelation.
In 1985, Michèle Mouton, the first woman to win an international rally, took one up Pikes Peak and eviscerated the record. They say Audi engineers boosted the engine up to over 1,000bhp by the late 1980s, but couldn’t find any drivers capable of driving it―nevertheless, it became one of rallycross’s most distinctive cars, particularly at the scene of the British Rallycross Grand Prix in the late 1980s, a circuit designed by British rallycross champion Trevor Hopkins, that also comes with the Fun Pack.