The B boom #7

by Tim Whittington |

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.

Martin Schanche got top perform his lap of honour for the first time in an RS200. © Tim Whittington/

Back in the day the Belgian round of the European championship moved between the three tracks in the country on rotation and in 1987 it was the turn of the Glossocircuit at Arendonk to host the event. Basically ‘U’ shaped, the track was small but often delivered good racing. On this occasion it also provided a much needed boost for Martin Schanche who had endured a miserable first half year in his RS200 but who emerged to take the car’s first European championship win on the little Belgian track.

It was championship leader Seppo Niittymaki who set the early pace. The Finn had raced at Arendonk earlier in the year as he learned his new Peugeot 205 T16E2 and hit the ground running in the championship event. Fastest times in the first and second heats meant there was no need to start the third, when Schanche, Ford Motorsport’s John Taylor present to keep an eye on him, set fastest time. The third heat effort put Schanche on the front row alongside Niittymäki, and when the A final started it was the Ford that powered into the lead. Up front there was no real action, Schanche leading all the way and Niittymäki fending off an attack from Matti Alamäki that broke the bodywork on the front of the latter’s Lancia Delta to keep second place.

Will Gollop had wound up in the B final after problems with the crank sensor in his Metro 6R4. With the car restored to full health he made light work of winning that one and was the man on the move in the A final, passing Ludo Steukers’ Porsche and then zapping Olle Arnesson’s Quattro Sport S1 to take fourth place in the last lap.

There was a new member of the Group B gang in Belgium, Norwegian Andreas Nærby bringing his Metro 6R4 for its first ERC start. Perhaps not strictly speaking Group B cars, but in addition to the locally-based Kumpen Car Glass Porsches and Renault Alpine, there was also the A610 Renault Alpine 4×4 of Frenchman Jean-Pierre Demoisson.

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