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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