Group A: 1987 - 1996
With Group B now outlawed, the FIA needed to introduce a new class structure for the 1987 season onwards. The answer? Group A.
In comparison to Group B, the Group A regulations meant that all of the vehicles competing were strictly based on their production counterparts, with limitations on aspects such as power, weight and aerodynamics. These restrictions also helped to bring down the overall cost to manufacturers and encouraged more privateer teams to enter the rallies.
Of course, with new regulations came brand-new rally cars and vehicles including the Lancia Delta Integrale, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Ford Escort Cosworth and Toyota Celica GT-Four all graced the stages.
Building on the success that they enjoyed with the Delta S4 Group B car, the Lancia marque was once again quick out of the blocks and were seemingly unbeatable with their new Delta Integrale. The team dominated the Manufacturers’ points right through until 1992, taking the prestigious title an incredible six years on the trot. Juha Kankunnen and Miki Biasion also enjoyed their share of success with the car, claiming the Drivers’ championship victory two times each during the era.
As the World Rally Championship headed into the 1990s, Japanese manufacturers Mitsubishi, Subaru and Toyota all changed up a gear and showed impressive pace.
Spanish hero Carlos Sainz topped the leaderboard in the Drivers’ championship in 1990 and 1992 in his Toyota Celica GT-Four, whilst Juha Kankunnen did the same on his debut year with the team in 1993, taking his fourth championship victory and bringing Toyota their first Manufacturers’ world title in the process.
The Group A era also saw a fresh crop of talent making their first foray into the world stage. A young Colin McRae was contracted to the Subaru team for the 1992 season and he immediately impressed onlookers with his flamboyant driving style. Despite having limited experience of rallying’s top flight, the Scot chalked up fifth position in his debut year and also claimed his maiden WRC victory at Rothmans Rally New Zealand. McRae’s hard work paid off in 1995 when he sealed the championship in Britain after an intense battle with teammate Carlos Sainz.
After working his way up the ranks on the British and European rallying scene, the late Richard Burns also made his factory WRC debut at the Network Q RAC Rally in 1993. Burns brought his Subaru Legacy RS home in seventh place and went on to enjoy several further outings before moving to Mitsubishi in 1996.
For the remainder of the 1990s, the World Rally Championship continued to be dominated by Japanese protagonists Subaru and Mitsubishi. Subaru took the Manufacturers’ title in 1996 with the Impreza 555 before a change in regulations made way for the next generation of world rally cars.
|1987||Juha Kankunnen (FIN)||Lancia Delta Integrale||Lancia|
|1988||Miki Biasion (ITA)||Lancia Delta Integrale||Lancia|
|1989||Miki Biasion (ITA)||Lancia Delta Integrale||Lancia|
|1990||Carlos Sainz (ESP)||Toyota Celica GT-Four||Lancia|
|1991||Juha Kankunnen (FIN)||Lancia Delta Integrale||Lancia|
|1992||Carlos Sainz (ESP)||Toyota Celica GT-Four||Lancia|
|1993||Juha Kankunnen (FIN)||Toyota Celica GT-Four||Toyota|
|1994||Didier Auriol (FRA)||Toyota Celica GT-Four||Toyota|
|1995||Colin McRae (GBR)||Subaru Impreza 555||Subaru|
|1996||Tommi Mäkinen (FIN)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution||Subaru|