Every picture tells a story – Vintage Rallycross photo of the week 40/2011
For the 1987 ERC Finn Matti Alamäki had been able to get a Group B Lancia Delta S4 from the WRC factory team in Italy. As soon as his compatriot Seppo Niittymäki found this out he could not sleep peaceful anymore. With the aid of Ari Vatanen and the Finnish Peugeot importer Oy Maan Auto AB the by then Ford Escort Mk3 Xtrac driver was allowed to get his own foot into the door of Peugeot Talbot Sport (PTS) in France and to grab a Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2 for the first of those six years we call the ‘vitamin B era’ of Rallycross. Although Alamäki was the faster one of the two fellow-countrymen by the end of 1987 it was Seppo Niittymäki who had won four of the eleven ERC rounds to claim the title while Matti became the all but happy runner-up.
During that season Alamäki understood that he needed a Peugeot himself to win his third title, the first two he bagged in 1981 and 1985, and while Seppo gave up motorsport and sold his winning Pug to Norwegian Terje Schie the man from Pori was introduced by his friend Juha Kankkunen to PTS. For 1988 Alamäki got another 205 T16 E2, but the rules had been changed yet, the turbo factor was raised from 1.4 to 1.7 as well as new weight limits had been introduced. Therefore, the engine capacity for Matti’s car was reduced to 1760cc (1760 x 1.7 = 2992cc), but while the power output remained about the same (550+bhp) the weight limit for a 3 litre car was 960kgs now (the 1987 Niittymäki 205 figures: 1775 x 1.4 = 2485cc, 540bhp, 890kgs).
At the end of the 1988 ERC Alamäki had won six of the eleven rounds and missed the points maximum by just one second place and three points only. The 1989 ERC started well for the reigning champion, he won the last of the three (1987, 88, 89) Spanish European rounds at the Circuit de Sils near Girona. However, only one week later at the Rallycross-Ring at Melk in Austria the Finn experienced the first big blow in his three Peugeot years. After being involved in several fights during the first (13th time) and second heats (9th time) it was the 2nd fastest time in the third runs that eventually paved him the way into the B final. Immediately after the start the champ went into the lead and saw himself already entering the A final. But it did not take long that the engine compartment of the Peugeot 205 was in full flames, leaking motor oil had started to burn and after the fire was extinguished by the track marshalls the car was in terrible shape. Anyway, three weeks later the Finn arrived at the Högstabanan in Sweden with a completely overhauled vehicle to start an outstanding series of wins. At the end of the 1989 series he claimed the second title with the Peugeot by scoring the maximum of 140 points – and even needed to drop two of his victories as only seven of the eleven ERC rounds were to count by then…
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