Rallycross entered a boom period 25 years ago. Group B cars arrived en masse and, for the next six years, would dominate the sport. These monsters, exiled from rallying after a spate of accidents became faster, lighter and more powerful as, in rallycross, they found their ultimate form. It’s true that every cloud has a silver lining, for Rallycross the cloud over rallying didn’t just present an opportunity but opened a golden era, perhaps the best years the sport has ever known. To mark that anniversary RallycrossWorld will look back at the 1987 season in parallel with the 2012 European Rallycross Championship.
Matti Alamäki had a miserable event at Hämeenlinna. © Tim Whittington/RallycrossWorld.com
Arriving on home ground with two wins under his belt and confidence high, Seppo Niittymäki completed the hat trick with his easiest win yet at Hämeenlinna. While there is no doubting the Finn and his Peugeot 205 T16 E2 were in fine form at the Moottorirata Ahvenisto, Niittymäki’s third win owed much to the poor form and bad luck of his challengers.
While Niittymäki swept to fastest times in the first and second heats before sitting out the third and providing Olle Arnesson with the opportunity to take fastest time with his Audi Sport Quattro S1. Arnesson had a relatively easy run in the third heat because Martin Schanche, returning to the series here after skipping the Swedish event in favour of his sportscar commitments, was out of the running in the first heat when the clutch in his Ford RS200 failed and destroyed the bell housing. Matti Alamäki, meanwhile, was also in trouble in the first heat, front diff failure halting the Lancia Delta S4 and restricting him to 19th place in the second. The car was patched up in time for the third heat when Alamäki was second fastest, but by now the damage was done and he languished in the C final where he was beaten by Kjetil Bolneset’s Audi Quattro.
Building on his good run in Sweden two-weeks earlier, Will Gollop qualified third in Finland and then chased Niittymäki and Arnesson home to climb onto the ERC podium for the first time. Finnish veteran Timo Virtanen grabbed fourth with his Quattro, ahead of Rolf Nilsson’s RS200 and young Finnish Porsche driver Jukka Pelttari who had earlier won the B final.
Schanche and Alamäki were not the only ones to experience problems in Finland, Pekka Rantanen crashed his RS200 in the first heat and, although returning to drive in the later races with the repaired car, failed to make it into the finals. Having scored points on his debut in Sweden, Audi Sport Quattro S1 racer Sven Lestander struggled at Hämeenlinna and ended the event in 17th place, pipped to the last place in the finals by German Adolf Heinz and his older ‘long’ Quattro. Norwegian Tor Balstad had entered his MG Metro 6R4 for the Swedish event, but had been a non-starter. Making it to the start in Finland, Balstad ended the event 24th of the 26 starters, only Quattro driver Terje Sauthon and Schanche, neither of whom made it past the first heat, behind him.