Lancia Delta Group A

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Lancia Delta HF Group A
2006-03-03 Motorshow Geneva 012.JPG
Lancia Delta HF integrale Group A
Category Group A
Constructor Lancia
Predecessor Lancia Delta S4
Technical specifications
Suspension (front) MacPherson struts
Suspension (rear) MacPherson struts
Engine 1,995 cc (121.7 cu in) inline-four, DOHC, 2 BS. Single Garrett turbocharger, intercooler. Front-transverse mounted.
Transmission 5- or 6-speed manual. Front open differential, centre epicyclic gearing with viscous coupling, rear Torsen.
Competition history
Debut 1987 55ème Rallye de Monte-Carlo
First win 1987 55ème Rallye de Monte-Carlo
Last win 1992 34º Rallye Sanremo
Constructors' Championships 1987 WRC, 1988 WRC, 1989 WRC, 1990 WRC, 1991 WRC, 1992 WRC
Drivers' Championships

The Lancia Delta Group A is a Group A rally car built for the Martini Lancia by Lancia to compete in the World Rally Championship. It is based upon the Lancia Delta road car and replaced the Lancia Delta S4. The car was introduced for the 1987 World Rally Championship season and dominated the World Rally Championship, scoring 46 WRC victories overall and winning the constructors' championship a record six times in a row from 1987 to 1992, in addition to drivers' championship titles for Juha Kankkunen (1987 and 1991) and Miki Biasion (1988 and 1989).

Competition history[edit]

1987[edit]

Markku Alén's Delta HF 4WD at the 1987 RAC Rally

During the early 1980s the top level of rallying was dominated by the Group B formula, for which Lancia produced the rear-drive 037 and then, when that became obsolete, the Delta S4. The entire formula was abolished at the end of the 1986 season, however, after a string of fatal accidents, leaving Group A as the top formula for the 1987 and subsequent seasons.

The sudden change in the rules left many manufacturers without a suitable car, with the exception of Lancia. The Delta HF 4WD (Abarth SE043), with its two-litre turbocharged engine and four-wheel-drive, was clearly a more suitable Group A rally car than its rivals, the underpowered Mazda 323 and Ford Sierra XR4x4, the powerful but rear-drive Ford Sierra RS Cosworth and BMW M3, and the front-drive Opel Kadett GSi and Renault 11 Turbo. However, it was not without flaws. The wheel arches were restrictive, the wheels and therefore the brakes were too small, and the suspension travel was limited. Access to key components for servicing was also restricted by the car's compact size and transverse-engined layout, the one defect that subsequent evolutions could not fully rectify. Even so, little doubt was expressed before the 1987 season began that Lancia, and one of its drivers, would win the World Championship.

In 1987 the Lancias were driven by Massimo Biasion, Juha Kankkunen and Markku Alén. Biasion opened with victory in the Monte Carlo Rally and later in the season won the Argentina and Sanremo rallies. However, Juha Kankkunen’s four podium places, coupled with victories on the Olympus Rally and the final round, the RAC Rally, saw him clinch the title ahead of Markku Alén, whose title hopes ended on the RAC with a series of accidents, including overturning the car in front of the television cameras on one of the opening day's short spectator stages. Lancia won seven of the eleven rounds which counted towards the manufacturers’ championship and with them the world title. However Kankkunen, reputedly disillusioned with team politics and the apparent favoritism shown towards Biasion, left the team at the end of the season and rejoined Toyota.

1988[edit]

The Delta HF 4WD also won the first two events of the 1988 season, Bruno Saby taking the win at Monte Carlo and Markku Alén in Sweden, before the HF integrale "8v" (Abarth SE044) appeared at the third round in Portugal. Team boss Cesare Fiorio remarked in an interview before that event that the Integrale’s larger wheels, bigger brakes, improved suspension and greater power would make it more competitive on asphalt, although on gravel it represented a relatively small improvement over the 4WD. Markku Alen went out with transmission failure early in the event, giving rise to some concern about the strength of the transmission and causing the team to undertake a great deal of precautionary maintenance to Biasion's car. However, the Italian driver suffered no serious mechanical problems and continued to take victory. A new and stronger six-speed gearbox was already under development and was introduced for the next event. Lancia then dominated the rest of the season. Only once were they beaten in a straight fight, on the dry asphalt of Corsica by Didier Auriol in a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth. By the season’s end Lancia had won ten of the eleven rounds which counted for the manufacturers’ series, and Biasion was drivers’ World Champion, having clinched the title on the penultimate round. Markku Alén rounded off the season with victory on the RAC Rally, a personal first for the Finn.

1989[edit]

1989 Group A HF integrale on display at the Birmingham Motor Show

Martini Lancia continued their domination of the sport for a third year in 1989, winning the first six rallies in which manufacturer points were awarded, and ultimately winning the title with plenty of room to spare. Italian Miki Biasion, Finn Markku Alén and Frenchman Bruno Saby returned to the team, while other successful drivers employed by the team through the year included French native Didier Auriol, Swede Mikael Ericsson, and Argentine driver Jorge Recalde. The team drove the Lancia Delta HF integrale "8v" through the year, until the Sanremo Rally, where the HF integrale 16v (Abarth SE045) made its début (where, for the first and only time, it ran in Italian racing red). Biasion seized the championship handily, becoming the WRC's second repeat champion.

1990[edit]

Delta Integrale 16V

Lancia continued to use the HF integrale 16v throughout the 1990 season. Juha Kankkunen rejoined the team, joining Biasion and Auriol. Lancia won the manufacturers’ title, with six wins, but these were shared between the team's three drivers, and in the drivers’ title race Sainz, driving a Toyota Celica GT-Four ST165, took the lead. The issue was eventually settled on the RAC Rally, when Kankkunen crashed whilst leading, leaving the Spanish driver to take the title, the first time since 1986 that Lancia had not won both drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships.

1991[edit]

The 1991 season saw another close battle between Toyota and Lancia. There was some pre-season speculation that the Delta was now outclassed by the Celica, an impression reinforced by Carlos Sainz's win on the opening round, the Monte Carlo. However, in the hands of Juha Kankkunen the Delta took wins in Kenya, Argentina, Finland and Australia, and Didier Auriol also won at Sanremo, giving Lancia the manufacturers’ title for a record fifth time. Meanwhile, Sainz crashed out in Australia and retired with electrical failure in Catalunya, putting Kankkunen in contention for the driver’s title. By this time Toyota and Lancia were reputedly working with blank checks and win-at-all-costs budgets from their parent companies, and rumors abounded of creative interpretations of the rules, especially on the part of Lancia. However, nothing was ever proven, although it was common knowledge that all of the major Group A cars had far more power than the notional 300 bhp limit, probably closer to 400 in most cases. The Lancia was among the most powerful, which, along with its reliability, accounts partly for its continued success in the face of handicaps such as poor weight distribution (the Delta was always nose-heavy) and a transmission system less sophisticated than that of the Toyota. The 1991 RAC Rally saw a close battle in the British forests between Kankkunen and Sainz, which was settled late in the event when the head gasket blew on Sainz's Toyota, giving Kankkunen his third driver's championship.

1992[edit]

Hf integrale "Evo" Safari; 2nd overall with Kankkunen/Piironen at Safari Rally 1992, on display at Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile
Jolly Club's Delta HF integrale, as driven by Carlos Sainz and co-pilot Luis Moya for the 1993 WRC Season

During the latter part of the season, Lancia developed the Delta HF integrale "Evoluzione" (Abarth SE050), sometimes nicknamed the "Deltona" or "Super Delta", which would début on the 1992 Monte Carlo. This final evolution, with its stiffer body, wider wheel arches, bigger wheels and brakes, improved suspension and aerodynamics and more powerful engine, was 5-6% faster under most circumstances than the 16v car. However, it represented the most that could be extracted from a design that was fundamentally outdated and, with no successor planned, Lancia officially withdrew from rallying at the end of 1991. For the next two seasons the cars would be run by the semi-private Jolly Club team, albeit initially with continuing support from the factory.

For 1992 Toyota had an all-new Celica, in contrast to Lancia’s updated Delta, leading to renewed speculation that Lancia would be outclassed. In fact the Celica initially proved problematic and Auriol dominated the early part of the season for Lancia, taking a record six wins and pulling out a large championship lead. Kankkunen also scored consistent podium finishes and a win in Portugal, whilst guest driver Andrea Aghini won the Rallye Sanremo. Lancia therefore took the manufacturers’ title for a sixth consecutive year. Meanwhile, Sainz initially struggled with the new car and slipped behind, even struggling at times to beat a resurgent Ford team with its rather unwieldy Sierra, but a late-season fight-back by the Spaniard, coupled with retirement in Sanremo and only tenth place in Catalunya for Auriol, saw Kankkunen, Auriol, and Sainz enter the RAC rally within three points of each other. The three-way title race was decided when Auriol’s engine failed and Kankkunen went off the road, leaving Sainz to take an unexpected second driver’s title.

1993[edit]

Sainz soon competed in 1993 in the Jolly Club backed Lancia Delta HF integrale (in order to prepare a switch from Subaru in 1994 for Sainz himself), but with limited success, marking the end of the competitive career of the Lancia Delta Group A.

WRC victories[edit]

No. Event Season Driver Co-driver Car
1 Monaco 55ème Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo 1987 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF 4WD
2 Portugal 21º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1987 Finland Markku Alén Finland Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
3 Greece 34th Acropolis Rally 1987 Finland Markku Alén Finland Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
4 United States 22nd Olympus Rally 1987 Finland Juha Kankkunen Finland Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF 4WD
5 New Zealand 17th AWA Clarion Rally New Zealand 1987 Austria Franz Wittmann Austria Jörg Pattermann Lancia Delta HF 4WD
6 Argentina 7º Marlboro Rally Argentina 1987 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF 4WD
7 Finland 37th 1000 Lakes Rally 1987 Finland Markku Alén Finland Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
8 Italy 29º Rallye Sanremo 1987 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF 4WD
9 United Kingdom 36th Lombard RAC Rally 1987 Finland Juha Kankkunen Finland Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF 4WD
10 Monaco 56ème Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo 1988 France Bruno Saby France Jean-François Fauchille Lancia Delta HF 4WD
11 Sweden 38th International Swedish Rally 1988 Finland Markku Alén Finland Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF 4WD
12 Portugal 22º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1988 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Carlo Cassina Lancia Delta HF integrale
13 Kenya 36th Marlboro Safari Rally 1988 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF integrale
14 Greece 35th Acropolis Rally 1988 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF integrale
15 United States 23rd Olympus Rally 1988 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF integrale
16 Argentina 8º Marlboro Rally Argentina 1988 Argentina Jorge Recalde Argentina Jorge del Buono Lancia Delta HF integrale
17 Finland 38th 1000 Lakes Rally 1988 Finland Markku Alén Finland Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF integrale
18 Italy 30º Rallye Sanremo - Rallye d'Italia 1988 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF integrale
19 United Kingdom 37th Lombard RAC Rally 1988 Finland Markku Alén Finland Ilkka Kivimäki Lancia Delta HF integrale
20 Monaco 57ème Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo 1989 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF integrale
21 Portugal 23º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1989 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF integrale
22 Kenya 37th Marlboro Safari Rally 1989 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF integrale
23 France 33ème Tour de Corse - Rallye de France 1989 France Didier Auriol France Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF integrale
24 Greece 36th Acropolis Rally 1989 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF integrale
25 Argentina 9º Rally Argentina 1989 Sweden Mikael Ericsson Sweden Claes Billstam Lancia Delta HF integrale
26 Italy 31º Rallye Sanremo - Rallye d'Italia 1989 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
27 Monaco 58ème Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo 1990 France Didier Auriol France Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
28 Portugal 24º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1990 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
29 France 34ème Tour de Corse - Rallye de France 1990 France Didier Auriol France Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
30 Argentina 10º Rally Argentina 1990 Italy Miki Biasion Italy Tiziano Siviero Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
31 Australia 3rd Commonwealth Bank Rally Australia 1990 Finland Juha Kankkunen Finland Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
32 Italy 32º Rallye Sanremo - Rallye d'Italia 1990 France Didier Auriol France Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
33 Kenya 39th Martini Safari Rally 1991 Finland Juha Kankkunen Finland Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
34 Greece 38th Acropolis Rally 1991 Finland Juha Kankkunen Finland Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
35 Finland 41st 1000 Lakes Rally 1991 Finland Juha Kankkunen Finland Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
36 Australia 4th Telecom Rally Australia 1991 Finland Juha Kankkunen Finland Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
37 Italy 33º Rallye Sanremo - Rallye d'Italia 1991 France Didier Auriol France Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
38 United Kingdom 47th Lombard RAC Rally 1991 Finland Juha Kankkunen Finland Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v
39 Monaco 60ème Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo 1992 France Didier Auriol France Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF integrale "Evo"
40 Portugal 26º Rallye de Portugal Vinho do Porto 1992 Finland Juha Kankkunen Finland Juha Piironen Lancia Delta HF integrale "Evo"
41 France 36ème Tour de Corse - Rallye de France 1992 France Didier Auriol France Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF integrale "Evo"
42 Greece 39th Acropolis Rally 1992 France Didier Auriol France Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF integrale "Evo"
43 Argentina 12º Rally Argentina 1992 France Didier Auriol France Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF integrale "Evo"
44 Finland 42nd 1000 Lakes Rally 1992 France Didier Auriol France Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF integrale "Evo"
45 Australia 5th Telecom Rally Australia 1992 France Didier Auriol France Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF integrale "Evo"
46 Italy 34º Rallye Sanremo - Rallye d'Italia 1992 Italy Andrea Aghini Italy Sauro Farnocchia Lancia Delta HF integrale "Evo"