Britain in 1985 was wild. Thatcher was in charge, the Battle of Beanfield took place, the Sinclair C5 both entered and exited production, and Group B rally cars tore up Wales in one of the most sensational showings in rally history.
Thanks to the good people at VHS Rallies on Youtube, the entirety of BBC Rally Report’s coverage of the 1985 Lombard RAC Rally is available and ready to watch from the comfort (and social distance) of your living room.
The 1985 RAC Rally was the last race of what would end up being the penultimate season of Group B competition, and coming into the race things were far from decided as far as championships were concerned. After two years of dominance by Audi and Lancia, the field was starting to widen out a little bit. Cars like the Renault 5 Turbo and Toyota Celica TCT were starting to make inroads, winning races, and giving the big players reason for pause. Come the end of the season, though, one challenger stood apart from the rest. One that gave the Germans and Italians goosebumps.
That was Peugeot. It was in 1985 that Peugeot would be able to come away with a manufacturers’ championship for the first time since Group B began, its raucous mid-engined, all-wheel-drive 205 T16s driven to victory by Finns Ari Vatanen and Timo Salonen.
But despite all of that excitement surrounding Peugeot, it didn’t even make the podium at the RAC. The top two finishers were another set of Finns, Henri Toivonen and Markku Alén in their turbo- and supercharged Lancia Delta S4s while third place was a hometown win for MG, whose Metro 6R4 made its only podium finish ever at the race with Tony Pond behind the wheel.
The BBC coverage is excellent because it combines really impressive camera work for such an early race with some insightful interviews. Hearing from Tony Pond, who managed to tame that Metro 6R4 into an actual podium finish, at the end of day two gives a great impression of just how strenuous these races were on drivers.