By 1985 it had become apparent that with the successes being racked up by the latest four wheel drive Audi Sport Quattro and Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Lancia would have to abandon it’s supercharged 2 wheel drive Lancia 037 and join the four wheel drive rallying band wagon if it wanted to remain competitive in World Championship Rallying.
Over the course of 1985/86 Lancia built 200 Lancia Delta S4 Stradales with CroMo tube frame chassis, covered with epoxy and fiberglass 2 door body panels, vaguely reminiscent of the Lancia Delta 4 door hatch back but hinged in the roof for easy access to the rear.
Like the Peugeot Turbo 16 the engine was mounted transversely behind the passenger seat but it was not only supercharged as per Lancia 037 but also turbocharged to improve overall power, while the S4’s four wheel drive system was developed with Hewland.
Power out put for the motor at 5 bar boost was said to be 1000hp but in Staradale, road spec, 250 hp was deemed sufficient while in Corsa, competition spec between 500hp and 600hp was more likely.
The competition version of the S4 made it’s debut on the RAC Rally in November 1985 and Henri Toivonen with Neil Wilson navigating came home first ahead of team mates Markku Alén and Ilkka Kivimäki.
The following season the S4 scored four victories; Monte Carlo for Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto, Acropolis for Miki Biasion and Tiziano Siviero with Markku Alén and Ilkka Kivimäki winning the Sanreno and Olympus Rallys.
Markku and Lancia might have been crowned World Rally Champions, but that was before the governing body the FIA found that the organisers of the San Remo Rally had been wrong to disqualify the Peugeot team from a commanding lead of the rally for using skirts to aid the handling of their cars and so the FIA had little option but to annul the San Remo results which handed the world titles to Juha Kankkunen and Peugeot.
However the season was clouded and the course of rallying was changed after first three spectators were killed and another 30 were injured when a Group B Ford RS200 plunged into a crowd in Portugal and later Henri and Sergio lost their lives after their S4 plunged into a ravine and burst into flames in Corsica.
In the aftermath of these events Group B was cancelled from the end of 1986 and Audi withdrew from the Ford curtailed it’s Rally RS200 programme while Audi immediately withdrew from international rallying completely.
The photo above show’s Markku and Ilkka on the opening Wollaton Park stage of the 1985 RAC Rally while the remaining photographs show S4 Replica’s at Race Retro and Goodwood Festival of Speed built I believe by Rally Legend Replica’s in Blackburn.
Thanks for joining me on this “Twincharging” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me for Mercedes Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !