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-   -   Should Group B Rally Racing make a comeback? (https://www.tombraiderforums.com/showthread.php?t=224334)

Catapharact 16-04-20 01:17

Should Group B Rally Racing make a comeback?
 
All Auto Sports Enthusiasts have either watched videos or have read about the infamous Group B Rally Championships from the 80s.



For some, it was a Raw, Unadulterated expression of Motor Sports where both men and machine were pushed to their ultimate limits. For others, its a horrifying reminder as to why those "pesky and boring" FIA regulations exist and why its so important to abide by them.

For those who aren't familiar with Rallying or just Auto Sports in general, Group B were a set of very lax regulations set by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) in 1982 for Rally Racing.

FIA's regular set of rules for Rallying (Group A,) were very specific and had limits on Power, Weight, Technology that is used in the car and the overall cost of the car. Aso, as per homologation rules, 2500 models of the competition car need to be made out of 25,000 of the various models associated with the same vehicle. For Example, if your competing car happens to be a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, you need to produce 2,500 road legal cars of the same trim out of the 25,000 regular Mitsubishi Lancers you will be producing.

Group B regulations had very few restrictions on weight or technology used in the cars, and apart from different Engine Displacement Classes, Manufacturers were allowed to juice up the power of their cars as much as they wanted. On top of all of that, Manufacturers only had to produce just 200 of the competing vehicles for homologation. Needless to say, manufacturers were quick to take advantage of the lax set of regulations and produced absolute monsters like the Group B Audi Quattro S1 and the Group B Ford RS200.

However, with lax regulations came horrible consequences. Given the blistering speeds the Group B Rally Cars were travelling at and the dangerous tracks these cars were running in, it was very hard for drivers to react fast enough to keep these beasts under control. Crashes started to mount up; and given the lax control over car safety regulations, some of those crashes were fatal.

Furthermore, crowd control in some of the Group B events was very poor. It wasn't uncommon for moronic spectator to stand in the middle of the track while a race car sped towards them and try to jump out of the way. Some even went as far as trying to touch the cars as they sped by. There were instances where Audi Technicians would find severed fingers inside their competition cars because some idiot couldn't pull his hand away in time.

In May, 1986, Finnish Rally Car driver Henri Pauli Toivonen and his car fell off a cliff at an unguarded turn at the Portugese Rally. The car then caught on fire. The rescue crew couldn't save him or his partner and they both burned to death. The Group B Championships that year were cancelled and in 1987, the FIA disbanded Group B completely.

Despite the tragedies associated with Group B Rally Racing, some Auto Enthusiasts consider Group B as pure rally racing and pretty much revered the Drivers as Ultimate Racing Legends. Now, given how far we have come with Motorsports Technology, do you think we should revive Group B Rally Racing again?

Cochrane 16-04-20 07:00

My first thought was a flippant, „why, do you think we have too many alive rally drivers right now?“ Group B earned its reputation for a reason. Modern technology can reduce the risk a lot compared to what it was back then, but at some level, cars will become too fast to safely travel around certain tracks. And nobody wants to see rallying with Formula 1 style runoff areas.

But suppose that issue could be fixed somehow. Compared to modern WRC cars, there's maybe about 100 hp more power in group B, so enough to make a difference, but probably still manageable.

Then the real issue which is both more and far less interesting is cost control. You see, the racing series that I want to see brought back most of all is the 1993-1996 FIA class 1 touring car regulations as used by the German DTM (and later ITC), and specifically the Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI. My favorite race car of all time. These cars were basically what you'd want a modern Group B to be: Safe, the safest of their time, but also mean-looking monsters full of every bit of technology imaginable, with all wheel drive, electronic suspension and more. Many of the technologies they've had are not even used in Formula 1 these days. It was awesome.

And it ended after four seasons because these were some of the most expensive race cars of their time outside of Formula 1. There wasn’t enough interest from domestic German fans to support it (which wasn’t helped by bad TV deals), and the attempts to internationalize it under the name ITC just increased costs but didn’t actually solve the issues or get more manufacturers interested.

The amount of money you can put into a race car has gone up drastically since Group B times. Modern unlimited Group B racing would quickly yield the most expensive rally cars of all time. And then we'd likely see either manufacturers dropping out quickly, or the one manufacturer who is willing to spend the most will dominate the series at will (as we've seen in WRC, Le Mans, the old WTCC, and arguably Formula 1).

I also think fewer manufacturers are willing to spend money on Motorsports these days, and while I hate that, it's kind of understandable. Ecology and preventing emissions is more important than ever, and Motorsports is kind of the opposite of that. That's why e.g. Volkswagen stopped all internal combustion Motorsports at the end of last year.

There's a reason why all the major developments in Motorsports series recently have gone for spec series, silhouette racers, or GT3-style Balance Of Performance. I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happened to rallying soon.

(Well, honestly, who knows how much Motorsports we'll still have when all this Coronavirus is over. Definitely still some, sure, but when all european manufacturers are in crisis mode, that won’t be positive)

So in short: I’d love for Group B or something like it to come back, but realistically speaking, even if you could solve the safety issues, it would not be financially sustainable in the current day and age.

(Typed on an iPad while tired. Sorry about all the typos and unnecessarily capitalized instances of the word Motorsports, my iPad decided that it had to be)

Catapharact 16-04-20 15:24

There is no denying if WRC regulations were trimmed down to the level of Group B Rally Racing standards, we can easily see manufacturers creating Monsters exceeding 800 HP with all the modern tech. at their disposal.

Heck, an independent turning shop which was sponsored by Toyota has already created a 1000+ HP drifting car based on the new Supra:



While the car in question won't be using all of its power in drifting, just imagining all this tech. on a no holds barred Rally Car simply blows my mind. We have pretty much reached Pikes Peak Hill Climb level monstrosities like the Escudo or Cultus Pikes Peak Cars which at the time needed TWO motors to do the job of one.

So yeah, it would be interesting to see how such insane beasts can be tamed with modern advancements in Traction Control, Braking Systems, and Tire Technology.

As for emissions related issues, since you mentioned Volkswagen and their commitment to not enter combustion engine related competitions, they have easily proven that you don't need to create a combustion engine car to have an exciting and extremely overpowered racer. Their Volkswagen I.D. R that competed during the Pikes Peak Hill Climb challenge broke new records and proved to auto enthusiasts everywhere that Electric and Hybrid cars have broken all the rules when it comes to autoracing.

Which only leaves the matter of funding and interest by Manufacturers in creating new tech. state of the art rally racing cars... Which as you said, is the mainline issue. F1 and Rally Racing interests were already on the decline way before the COVID crisis hit us. I can only imagine the fallout this will bring about in the Autoracing world. Keep in mind though that this isn't the first time the world of Motorsports had to deal with such a crisis. Remember the Oil Embargo of the 70s? Everyone thought that Motorsports as we knew it had ended then, but the interest still remained. I am hopeful that this would be the case after the COVID crisis as well.

Quote:

Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI
As much as I like to take the piss out of Alfa Romeo for being a discount Ferrari wannabe, I cannot deny the fact this car was one of my all time favourite competition cars :D. Just the sound of that V6 was enough to give anyone goosebumps.

Cochrane 16-04-20 19:11

Well, if there's one thing the 1980s have proven, it's that with turbocharging, the only things limiting your power output are your dreams and how much you mind whether the engine blows up. And we should have gotten better at that last part over the years. :D

I feel like electric racing isn't quite there yet for an electric group B to make sense, but we're getting closer. If you look at E-TCR, the format is still very much built around very short races because the capacity for long races is lacking. And Formula E is essentially running on purpose-built go-kart tracks for the same reason. But I can definitely imagine it getting there. With WRX going electric from 2021 (possibly, I wouldn't be surprised if it was delayed a year now), we're already getting a preview of what that could look like.

But as of right now… we don't know whether there'll be a market for electric racing that'll be capable of replacing the conventional racing market. Both for spectators and sponsors. Rates of car ownership are dropping, and emotional attachment to cars and, loosely speaking, the whole concept of a car fandom, that's all at the start of a downward trend. It'll probably stabilise somewhere, but I don't know where, and what kind of money will be left in the motorsports industry at the end. So that's a big unknown. And right now I think the interest in "new thing that promises to be incredibly expensive!" seems really, really low.

(I imagine if there was an electric group B, they'd use spec powertrains. It's what almost everybody else is doing, because nobody is getting excited about the tech specs or sound or design of electric motors.)

My guess is that there will be motor sports in five years, and that many of the biggest series will look fairly similar to where they are now. Maybe with more budget caps, but at the end, Formula 1 isn't going to go away. But most things that are smaller and not so present outside of enthusiasts circles, like rallying, all the local touring car series, all other open wheel series - some of that won't survive or only at a much smaller scale, and right now I have no idea which will be which.

(Okay, I'll make one prediction, completely unrelated to the topic of this thread: Most of the millions of single-country TCR series will fold and/or become part of multi-national series because they can't fill the starter grid otherwise. Same for lower levels of GT3 and GT4.)




As for Alfa Romeo being a discount Ferrari wannabe: Are you sure you're not confusing it with Maserati? :D (Is Maserati even still around? Haven't heard anything from them in ages ever since I don't live next to a Maserati dealer anymore.)

Catapharact 17-04-20 14:38

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cochrane (Post 8187972)
Well, if there's one thing the 1980s have proven, it's that with turbocharging, the only things limiting your power output are your dreams and how much you mind whether the engine blows up. And we should have gotten better at that last part over the years. :D

The very words the Renault lives by :p; Or used to live by anyway. Looking at Renault now in comparison to its former glory days stabs you in the heart. Oh how the mighty have fallen...

While we are on the subject and a bit off-topic but here is a question for all the Auto-Enthusiasts out there:

Forced Induction vs. Naturally Aspirated: Which one works for you?

Forced Induction is the way of the future obviously. Tighter emission standards pretty much guarantee it. However, just imagining the strain taken on by Turbocharged Four Bangers gives me a headache. The only V4 Turbocharged Engine that I would trust to make it over 100,000 KM without blowing a head gasket would be Honda's K20C1; Which currently is being used in their new Honda Civic Type R.

And then there is AMG who just said "why not both?" and created the V8 Biturbo :p. Ah love those guys...

Quote:

I feel like electric racing isn't quite there yet for an electric group B to make sense, but we're getting closer. If you look at E-TCR, the format is still very much built around very short races because the capacity for long races is lacking. And Formula E is essentially running on purpose-built go-kart tracks for the same reason.
Good that you brought up Formula E because a hell of a lot of folks that I know are too caught up on the "Indycar vs. F1" debate to even consider watching Formula E :p. Speaking of which, because of this damned Coronavirus, this will be the first year that I will miss going to Toronto's Honda Indycar Race at Toronto's Harbourfront.

Quote:

But I can definitely imagine it getting there. With WRX going electric from 2021 (possibly, I wouldn't be surprised if it was delayed a year now), we're already getting a preview of what that could look like.
... Much to the dismay of potheads and IT specialists everywhere :p.

I swear, the novelty of a Boxer Engine never really caught on with me. Apart from the Wankle Engine fanboys, I have never encountered such a fanatic cult of a following for such an old Engine design.

I mean, I get it; Its small, its compact so you can mount it lower for Balancing and feel like you are driving something with more power even when you aren't. And then, when the darned thing breaks down, your wallet cries in agony when are technician has to tear half the car apart to get to the problem.

Quote:

Rates of car ownership are dropping, and emotional attachment to cars and, loosely speaking, the whole concept of a car fandom, that's all at the start of a downward trend. It'll probably stabilise somewhere, but I don't know where, and what kind of money will be left in the motorsports industry at the end. So that's a big unknown. And right now I think the interest in "new thing that promises to be incredibly expensive!" seems really, really low.
Would you equate that to rising cost of Automobile Ownership and the high price of Modern Day high performance Sports Cars?

I mean, during the 90s leading into 2000, we had budget high performers like the Integra Type R, Lancer Evolution, Honda S-2000, etc. and as such, those who had smaller budgets in large market counties like the U.S. could afford a somewhat high performance vehicle for a good price. They could easily find cheap but reliable aftermarket parts for those cheap cars. Even high end performance vehicles with the likes of Nissan GT-R and the Acura NSX weren't that out of reach for a somewhat well off middle class family. Nowadays, the only affordable but maintainable rear wheel drive vehicle in the market are the Toyota 86 and Mazda Miata.

Also, keeping emissions standards in mind, I believe the law of diminishing returns pretty much applies perfectly to combustion engines. There are only so many ways you can modify a combustion engine to make it more efficient is relation to the overarching costs of maintenance that will be needed to support such an engine. Higher costs of maintenance = less of an incentive to buy a car.

Quote:

As for Alfa Romeo being a discount Ferrari wannabe: Are you sure you're not confusing it with Maserati? :D (Is Maserati even still around? Haven't heard anything from them in ages ever since I don't live next to a Maserati dealer anymore.)
Maserati is a classic case of what you get when combining two of the worst possible engineering mindsets in creating a vehicle :p. French and Italian minds creating a car = Don't expect the thing to go beyond 50,000 KM without replacing the entire head gasket of the engine.

And yes, they are still around... However, their brand has depreciated so much that you can now buy a used Maserati with fairly good mileage on it for a price lower than that of a used Volkswagen Golf GTI :p.

Cochrane 18-04-20 14:22

Ah, sorry, forgot to reply here!

Forced vs natural induction: My main point of comparison is that I used to have a 2.0 Liter naturally aspirated car (Alfa 147), and now a 1.4 Liter turbocharged one (Alfa Giulietta), with both cars about the same weight (which is actually quite impressive considering how the Giulietta is larger and safer) and both engines having the same rated power of 150 HP/110 kW. And… just from a driving perspective, the 2.0 was more fun. Sure, in normal driving, there is little to no difference, but if you really want to accelerate, you do notice the turbo lag, and it's annoying.

That said, the new car uses way less fuel, and I honestly think it'll be more reliable, because the 2.0 TwinSpark engine was a mess in that regard. Loosing all engine power at 180 km/h on the left lane of the Autobahn is absolutely not fun…

Boxer: Don’t forget the reduced vibrations! Lots of advantages there. But yeah, overall, probably not worth it. Of course, cars are an emotional topic, so if boxer engines are the only interesting thing your car has going for it, you will become a boxer fan. Outside of super cars, the general path is first that you drive that car because your parents decided it was the best with an Excel spreadsheet, and then you become emotionally attached because it's your car, and then you find justifications for this attachment (yes, I admit, that is 100% the backstory behind me being an Alfa Romeo fan. No regrets). It sounds stupid, but it must be working, because I can’t imagine any other reason why people would be VW fans.

Cheap sports cars: Yes, absolutely. With modern safety and exhaust regulations, it has become almost impossible to build a cheap car in smallish numbers. That's probably a good thing overall, fewer deaths and all, but it sucks. You can’t build a sports car at a price that someone with their first job could reasonably afford. The closest you can get these days is a sports model, i.e. the GTIs and such, and even those are ridiculously expensive.

That said, I think the whole part where millennials are less interested in cars than the generations before them is only partially related to this. First, there's more focus on environmentalism, and from that point of view, cars are kind of a mistake to begin with. Then we got the whole digital issue: People are less likely to show off their great cars to gain social points and more likely to show off their smartphones. A car doesn’t represent the freedom to hang out with your friends so much anymore; now you can be connected with them at all times. Plus, more and more people live in cities, where cars are often slightly less necessary and always definitely way more annoying.

Mind you, I'm just quoting conventional wisdom I've read from elsewhere, I have no idea how much of that really makes sense. But I can tell you from personal experience that I’m the only one in my circle of friends or acquaintances who cares a lot about cars. Most of them have a car, but for them it's a tool, not a hobby.

Definitely agreed on law of diminishing returns. I used to work in the car industry, at a parts supplier in the research and development area. They had about 200 people working on a contract for fuel injection systems for one single manufacturer, and that's not counting the people who do generic research and development, testing, validation and prototype production. Just for the fuel injection system, mind you.

The truth is there are no big efficiency gains hidden in the modern combustion engine any more. There are still areas where you can get five, maybe ten percent if you invest a truly outrageous amount of money, or do all sorts of hybrid things, but the engine itself has become insanely complex. Frankly, it's a miracle that these things are as cheap and reliable as they are today.

Catapharact 22-04-20 18:00

Just when I was thinking that we should introduce more affordable entry level sports cars in the market again, this incident happens on Monday Night on what is probably the busiest intersection in downtown Toronto:



Thanks to idiots like him, insurance rates for Sports Cars are going to skyrocket and we all can't have nice things :(.

Catapharact 29-04-20 18:28

Apologies for double posting in this thread mods, but given the nature of the news, its only appropriate that I post it in this thread rather than marking a new one :).

Cochrane, as your predicted, things are looking bleak for the auto sports world.

Audi will be pulling out of the DTM Racing Tour by the end of 2020.

Cochrane 30-04-20 14:53

Let's see what happens to DTM now. I still remember 1996; I can't imagine that this will be different. Yes, there is the hypothetical possibility of japanese Super-GT cars, and I've heard people suggest using GTE cars to fill up the starter field, or to just become a GT3 sprint racing series. Honestly, I think the DTM is dead until further notice.

(Maybe they'll rebrand TCR Germany as DTM. That'll be sure to make all the fans really happy! :D)

In a broader sense, this is super surprising. Volkswagen Motorsport has already been scaling back most of its internal combustion racing drastically. The TCR versions of the new Golf and A3 were already cancelled late last year if I recall correctly. I have no idea what's going on with their GT cars but I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to wind that down as well.

It's hard to remain optimistic about motorsports in that light. Before Corona, we might have said that these were the sacrifices that were inevitable on the way to a new exciting all-electric world of motorsports. But now, with no money going into motorsports anywhere? I'm sure a lot of companies specialising in that business will close their doors sooner or later, and a lot of sponsors and manufacturers will also watch their money much more closely, so I imagine a lot of the current motorsports world will die, and the things that won't will get way smaller.

Catapharact 30-04-20 18:58

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cochrane (Post 8192059)
Let's see what happens to DTM now. I still remember 1996; I can't imagine that this will be different. Yes, there is the hypothetical possibility of japanese Super-GT cars, and I've heard people suggest using GTE cars to fill up the starter field, or to just become a GT3 sprint racing series. Honestly, I think the DTM is dead until further notice.

Its quite the long shot, that's for sure. However, given the recent lukewarm reception for Japanese Super Cars like the Acura NSX, I don't know if it would be worth the investment for many Japanese Automakers to invest in Super GT Racing in the future.

Damn those Acura NSX fanboys and their **** Tinted "Nostalgia" goggles.

Quote:

(Maybe they'll rebrand TCR Germany as DTM. That'll be sure to make all the fans really happy! :D)
It certainly won't make fans of DTM happy :p. Downgrading DTM silhouette cars to the level of a measly Touring Racer?! Blashphamy!


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