Month: February 2014

1986 Olympus Rally Part 5: End of an era

This final leg of the rally marked the end of the Group B era in the World Rally Championship.  At the end of the last stage, the Group B cars were banned from competition by the FIA.  Group A would be the future in 1987.  I read a quote from Juha Kankkunen:  “The WRC is for boys, Group B was for men.”  I’d have to agree, comparing the Group B’s with the Group A’s we’d see next year on the Olympus, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The stages were held near Elma, WA for the final leg.

Markku had a manageable lead over Juha.

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Juha had a sizeable lead over John Buffum, something like 30 minutes.

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The two Toyotas of Waldegaard and Torph were still in the rally, Bjorn’s younger team mate, Lars-Eric Torph was leading him.  Steve Millen had crashed out somewhere in the Capitol Forest on Friday.

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The Alessandrini brothers were still going.

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This was probably the most “crowded” stage of the rally as far as spectators.  Compare this with the RAC rally photos from 1986…

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You can see JB has had a brush with the scenery and the left rear fender has been taped up.

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The final stage of the Group B era was a night stage.  After this it was all over.  Too bad they couldn’t have found a way to dial them back just a bit rather than go Group A.  I think rally lost a lot of its excitement when Group B went into the history books.

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This is my brother’s friend, Ray Hocker in a Group N Honda CRX.

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The finish was held at the State Capitol in Olympia.

John Buffum celebrates histhird place.  His best finish in a World Championship Rally and I think the best finish by an American still to this day.

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Markku takes the win over Kankkunen.  The margin of victory was 3 minutes 26 seconds, with John Buffum a further 24 minutes behind.  With the win Markku was the 1986 World Driving Champion.  At least until the FIA overturned the results of the 1986 San Remo Rally 11 days later and Kankkunen was then awarded the Championship.  Markku would never win the Championship and ironically, Alen and Kankkunen would be team mates at Lancia the next year.

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1986 Olympus Rally Part 4: Brooklyn Stages

Saturday was composed of classic Olympus Rally stages in the Brooklyn area of Grays Harbor County between Cosmopolis and Raymond.  The weather was dryer than Friday’s wet stages, with a bit of fog early and then a little sun to end the day.

Kankunnen and Alen were still locked in their own battle for the driver’s title.  Kankunnen had a technical problem with the 205 and Alen was now leading.

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This is one of my favorite shots.  I had it enlarged and it still hangs in my garage to this day.

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JB powering the Quattro over a crest.

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Waldegaard in the Toyota.  I climbed onto a stump to get this.

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The Allesandrini’s head off into the gloom.

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A service stop was held in Raymond.  I got a few good shots of the leading drivers.

John Buffum.

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Juha Kankunnen.

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Mr. Maximum Attack:  Markku Alen

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Allen’s Delta S4.  Notice that the teams were using rental trucks for support vehicles.  After the rally, we used to see rental trucks around the area with their factory Lancia or Peugeot stickers on the side.

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JB’s Sport Quattro.

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This stage is my favorite Olympus stage.  We always used to go to this one.  You can stand on a bank and watch the cars come down a hill into a dip and then a slight crest, then they turn in front of you and head down another hill before they go out of sight.  On this stage we were standing next to the Duke Video crew from the UK.  I should buy the DVD someday…

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There was a washed out area of the road due to some flooding in the area prior to the rally.  We were able to get some good close shots as the cars slowed to go by.  The road was little wider than the cars and the ravine/wash out went down about 20 or 30 feet..

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The sun actually came out for this last stage we went to.

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JB’s co driver must have mis-read a note..

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The future of Group A rallying, a few years early…

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1986 Olympus Rally Part 3: Capitol Forest Stages

On Friday the competitors headed out to the Capitol Forest just outside of Olympia after the overnight rest halt.  I had a final in the morning so I didn’t get down there until after lunch.  I missed the ORV Park stage with the famous water splash.  You can find some footage on FaceTube of it.  The day started out pretty rainy, but dried out as it progressed.

First through were the leaders Kankunnen and Alen in their private battle for the Driver’s title.

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Lars Erik Torph’s TTE Celica Turbo.

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The event hadn’t been re-seeded, so Buffum was 5th on the road, but running in 3rd.

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Rod Millen was soldering on in his Group A Mazda.

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Here’s the Alessandrini’s hitting the bank.  A chunk of the air dam was broken off and some spectator took it home as a souvenir.   I wonder if they still have it…

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Steve Millen’s TTE entered Celica.  Wonder if he liked driving this better than his regular stadium truck.

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Here’s an “arty shot” of the 205 at a later stage.

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Markku in a nice drift.

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One of the Toyotas.  I moved across the road from the last shot’s location after being drilled in the back by a rock from the Delta S4 after I took the last shot.

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JB and the Sport Quattro, Ex-Mouton Pikes Peak.

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1986 Olympus Rally Part 2: Special Stage 1

After the start at the Tacoma Dome, the competitors headed out to special stage 1:  Salishan.  It was a night time, tarmac stage held on some abandoned roads in the Salishan area of Tacoma.  To us it was a revelation.   We could not believe the speed of the Peugeot and Lancia at the hands of real WRC drivers.  We had been going to national SCCA Pro Rallies since the early 80’s, but the level of car and driver was on another plane.  These were taken with my Olympus OM-2s with a crappy flash.  Don’t worry, the daytime photos get better from here…

Kankunnen in the 205.

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Alen in the Delta S4.  I remember it had a really cool sound due to the turbo AND supercharger it ran.  In all of the video footage of it I’ve watched, its never been able to really capture the unique sound of the dual stage induction.

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The Group B Celica of Waldegaard.

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JB and his Sport Quattro.  The 5 cylinder Audi has to be my favorite sounding rally car.

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Jon Woodner in his customer 205T-16.  It was one of the road cars built to homologate for Group B.  He had it converted to rally spec in the UK as the factory would not sell him an ex-works car.  It was the only time we’d see the car in the rally.  He retired on the next stage when he crashed hard.  I’ve read stories from local drivers that came up on the crash site and thought it was two cars involved in the off.

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Millen and his Group A Mazda 323 GTX.

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The Alessandrinini brothers and their customer Delta S4.

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I forget who this was, I took it because it was a FIAT that we never saw in the states, FIAT having abandoned the US in 1981.

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1986 Olympus Rally Part 1: Scrutineering

Back in 1986, the Toyota Olympus Rally in Washington State, was the last round of the 1986 World Rally Championship.  It was the end of the Group B era, Group B was to be banned at the end of the 1986 season.  Peugeot and Lancia were battling for the Driver’s championship even though the Peugeot 205 in the hands of Juha Kankunnen was the dominant force of the ’86 season, due to some funny business at the San Remo rally earlier in the fall.  The two factories sent cars to the Olympus for Juha Kankunnen and Markku Allen.  I was a junior at the UW back in ’86 and my friend and my older brother and I were lucky enough to attend the event on a cold, December weekend.  I took these pictures at the Tacoma Dome, in Tacoma, WA on Thursday, December 4th, 1986, where Scrutineering and the start was held.  I used my trusty Olympus OM-2s with real film.

The Peugeot factory team was there with a 205T-16 Evolution for Juha Kankunnen.

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Lancia was represented both by the factory team with a Delta S4 for Markku Allen and by the private team of the Alessandrini brothers.  Note the Martini & Rossi on the factory car instead of the typical Martini only.

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Toyota was the event sponsor and fielded a team of three Toyota Team Europe Group B Celicas for Bjorn Waldegaard, Lars-Erik Torph and Steve Millen.  Steve is Rod Millen’s older brother and raced Off-Road stadium trucks for Toyota.  Here is Waldegaard and his Toyota,

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American rally legend John Buffum was there with is Audi of America supported Sport Quattro.  Michele Mouton drove the car at Pikes Peak in 1985, and JB had been battling Rod Millen in his AWD RX-7 in the US SCCA Pro-Rally series.

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Rod Millen was entered in a Group A Mazda 323 GTX, since his custom built RX-7 AWD he usually competed with wasn’t homologated for the WRC.

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“Monster” Tajima and Jean Lindamood in a Suzuki Cultus (Swift).

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Volkswagen of America had a couple of Golf’s in the event.  They were prepared by Guy Light’s Light Performance Works.

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Gary English entered the Alfa Ricambi sponsored Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT.  I’m a dyed in the wool Alfisti, so I had to take a picture.  Too bad about the background…

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