The ultimate approval of WRC in the 1990s is this: Toyota, of all the manufacturers, got put on a solid time-out because they engineered a cheat so unbelievably perfect that it bypassed even the most strict inspector’s eyes and even earned the praise of of officials. That’s barely scratching the surface of the timeline where I learned to love small, highly strung, mostly European machines that were set on “kill everything”. The group B series was over, it had been for years. The tragic deaths of Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto had cast a very dark cloud over rally racing, but there is truth in the statement that time heals all wounds. Most of the Group B issues had been taken care of…the cars were safer, the power more manageable, and the drivers…well, they knew the dangers, that’s for sure. The crowds still didn’t grasp the “yield to tonnage” concept and would still happily hop in the way of a speeding race car.
This is the era of legends. Tommi Makinen and Colin McRae, the Subaru 555 team and the Mitsubishi Ralliart group, Team Toyota Europe and the final radical Escort RS from Ford against the last good Lancias. Anybody who though that the wild, damn near lawless form of racing that WRC racing had been in the 1980s was dead had their reckoning just a few short years later.
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