No ifs, no buts, no arguments; if you wanted to win in the WRC with any regularity in the late '80s, you needed a Lancia Delta HF Integrale. The unprepossessing hatchback from Turin came to dominate the top tier of the sport for the best part of half a decade, earning itself a very special place within the history of the sport in the process. This, combined with the high regard the Delta is held in by the rallying community, explains why Rallyday 2018 has opted to mark its 30th anniversary with a display of cars, including a number of ex-works examples.
Lancia found itself sitting pretty in the wake of Group B's sudden cancellation at the end of 1986. While competition managers from rival firms set about commencing Group A programmes based on whatever was remotely suitable, Lancia was ready to go; the Delta was four-wheel drive, compact and powered by a turbocharged 2.0 engine, the 3 key prerequisites for WRC success at the end of the '80s.
First seen in 1987 in HF AWD guise, the Group A Delta was dominant 'right out of the box' and went on to claim both titles in its debut season, before Lancia opened up its coffers and threw an ever increasing budget at the car. This lead to the Delta HF Integrale, which addressed many of the original car's faults and made its debut on the 1988 Monte Carlo Rally. Visually similar it might have been, but the HF was a far more potent proposition where it mattered; it sported widened steel arches for larger, 15in wheels and increased suspension travel, with a revised front end for enhanced cooling. There was also overhauled forced induction system, complete with enlarged intercooler and a Garrett T3 turbo. These ensured that the HF had no problem meeting the FIA mandated 300bhp limit, and by most accounts made a good 50bhp more than that!
The HF Integrale had sizable shoes to fill, so it says much about Lancia's commitment to World Rallying and its unmatched experience that it was able to pick from where the AWD left off, winning all but one round of the 1988 season. It took Miki Biasion to the Drivers' title at a canter, secured the Manufacturers' crown for its maker with relative ease thanks to 10 outright wins, then denied Toyota to repeat the feat the following year.
Seldom has a car made quite as much of an impact on the World Rally Championship as the Lancia Delta HF Integrale, making it an obvious choice for celebration at Rallyday 2018, the UK's ultimate rallying showcase. The UK's Lancia community has worked hard to ensure a healthy crop of road-going HFs will be there on the day, alongside a pair of ex-works WRC variants formally driven by Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol respectively. The HFs will have a dedicated area at Rallyday and will even take to the track, with a display session planned for later in the afternoon.
Rallyday will take place at Castle Combe, Wiltshire on Saturday 22nd of September. Click here for advance tickets priced at £18 per adult (£25 on the gate). Under-17s, accompanied by an adult, get in for free.