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WRC Rally Italy

Ranking Lancia’s greatest rally cars

Confirmation of Lancia’s return to rallying evokes memories of its glorious past culminating in a record 10 World Rally Championship constructor titles.

Henri Toivonen / Juha Piironen, Lancia 037

Photo by: LAT Photographic

The Italian brand leaned into its history during Monday’s announcement where it confirmed a return to the stages through a Rally4 programme with its new Ypsilon hatchback. A version of its new offering was unveiled in a livery that recaptured the iconic Martini Racing stripes, synonymous with the brand in the 1980s and 1990s.   

While Lancia’s return to rallying won’t initially see it competing in the World Rally Championship, rally fans will be hoping this Rally4 programme is merely the first step towards a more significant plan, once the WRC’s future regulations become clearer next month.  

However, the prospect of the Lancia name competing in rallying again in the near future, offers an opportunity to relive its past and rank the greatest hits that helped create the Lancia legend.

5 - Lancia Fulvia

RAC Rally

RAC Rally

The Fulvia guided Lancia back into motorsport through the crucible of rallying in 1965, 10 years after it withdrew from Formula 1. The eye-catching V4 engine coupe, which developed 130 horsepower at its peak through its 1.6-litre variant, enjoyed instant success on home soil winning the Italian Rally Championship on its debut, the first of eight national titles and two European championships.

The Fulvia was victorious on the world stage, securing the 1972 International Championship for Manufacturers, the precursor to the World Rally Championship, following wins in Monte Carlo, Morocco and Sanremo. Although winless in the WRC, it did help Lancia score points towards its maiden WRC constructor crown in 1974.

4- Lancia Delta S4

Miki Biasion, Tiziano Siviero, Lancia Delta S4

Miki Biasion, Tiziano Siviero, Lancia Delta S4

Photo by: Christian Alias

Epitomising the beasts that spawned during the WRC’s famous Group B era, the Delta S4 was perhaps the most sophisticated and brutal. This mid-engine pocket rocket combined turbocharging and supercharging to reduce turbo lag at low speeds. As a result, its 1.8 litre Fiat twin cam engine delivered more than 500 horsepower to its four-wheel drive system.

Henri Toivonen claimed victory on its WRC debut in the 1985 Lombard RAC Rally, one of four WRC wins for the car. Along with the Peugeot 205 T16 Evo 2, the Delta S4 was the ultimate Group B car before the FIA scrapped the ruleset following a horrendous crash in Portugal and a fatal accident for Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto in Corsica.

3- Lancia 037

Markku Alén, Ilkka Kivimäki, Lancia 037 Rally

Markku Alén, Ilkka Kivimäki, Lancia 037 Rally

Photo by: Motorsport Images

The Delta S4’s predecessor, the 037, guided Lancia to its fourth WRC constructors’ title in 1983 and arguably its most impressive. This two-litre supercharged, mid-engined, rear wheel drive monster was the answer to Audi’s four-wheel drive Quattro. While it lacked in the horsepower stakes (280bhp) compared to the Audi (500bhp), it weighed only 960kg thanks to its lightweight, albeit fragile polyester resin/glass fibre chassis. It was also the first Lancia to adopt the now-famous Martini Racing colours.

It managed to beat Audi to the manufacturers’ crown in 1983, the last two-wheel drive to claim the title. Walter Rohrl and Markku Alen scored six WRC wins across 1983-1984. The car is now the subject of a new feature film “Race for Glory”, released this year, which charts the 1983 battle between the two brands.

2- Lancia Stratos

Sandro Munari, Silvio Maiga, Lancia Stratos

Sandro Munari, Silvio Maiga, Lancia Stratos

Photo by: Motorsport Images

There hasn’t been a rally car before or since that has managed to capture the look of the Lancia Stratos. The Bertone-designed car, powered by a 2.4 litre V6 from a Dino 246GT, weighing in at approximately 950 kilograms, was the brainchild of Lancia boss Cesare Fiorio, Gianpaolo Dallara, Marcello Gandini and former Ferrari man Mike Parkes.

It won the manufacturers’ crown on debut in 1974, thanks to Sandro Munari’s wins in Sanremo and Canada, while Jean-Claude Andruet triumphed in Corsica. The Stratos helped Lancia to titles in 1975 and 76, scoring 17 WRC wins. The car is perhaps best remembered in its iconic Alitalia colour scheme.  

This year marks 50 years since the Stratos helped put Lancia on the map as a WRC champion manufacturer. The Stratos is still competing today in historic rallies and last year lit up the Roger Albert Clark Rally in the hands of Seb Perez.  

1 - Lancia Delta HF/Integrale

Miki Biasion, Tiziano Siviero, Lancia Delta Integrale

Miki Biasion, Tiziano Siviero, Lancia Delta Integrale

Photo by: Motorsport Images

For some, it’s not the prettiest or the most spectacular of Lancia’s creations, but it is difficult to ignore the success the Delta enjoyed. This four-wheel drive weapon became the undisputed king of Group A. Through its several iterations, it won a staggering 46 WRC rallies from 1987-1992, marking it as the most successful car in the championship’s history.

The Delta claimed six consecutive constructors’ crowns during that period and four drivers’ titles, as Miki Biasion triumphed in 1988-89, while Juha Kankkunen succeeded in 1987 and 1991. Away from the stages, it will always have an affinity with those who grew up in the 1990s, given it was a protagonist in the iconic Sega Rally game series.

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