In 1982, motorsport was reorganized in a big way. Apart from single-seaters, just 4 types of racing cars were distinguished: Group A, B, C and N. Touring cars were either Group A or N, the latter providing very limited freedom of preparation. Group N really only took off in rallying, for national racing authoroties changed the rules providing a little more space for preparation.
Group A was the successor of the weak Group 2 category. It was based on the "group 1B" rules, which had replaced FIA group 1 in many countries. Unfortunately, although races (notably Spa) and even a European Trophy (coupe de l'avenir) should have had its effect on a single ruleset for Europe, differences between countries stopped any meaningful international competition.
Group A was FIA's answer to this. 5000 cars a year had to be produced (against 1000 for group 2). The modifications on the cars reflected group 1B, but brakes and gearboxes were free, provided they were homologated by the manufacturer (with no minimal number). Engine modifications were limited (exhaust manifold standard, pistons and camshafts free, but valve size and lift were restricted, altough lift was released in 1986). Suspension could be modified, but the mounting points could not be changed. Group A started with the well-known turbo capacity factor of 1,4, changed to 1,7 in 1988, when it was too late already.
An important difference to group 1B was that homologated carburettors, compression ratio (!) etc. were no longer allowed. Since Ford managed to homologate these goodies to the Escort RS 2000 and the Capri 3.0S, these cars were rendered incompetitive overnight.
Like group 2 1976, tyre width and weight was dependant on capacity, this was revised in 1988:
|engine size (cc)||fuel tank||max. tyre width (inch)||min. weight (kg)|
|over 5500 cc||120||13"||12"||1400||1500|
The divisions were 0-1600 cc, 1600-2500 cc and over 2500 cc.
It started like a dream. A touring car like a touring car should look, the BMW 528, won the championship, just like its BMW 1800 grandfather had done in the sixties. But the shape of things to come, the Jaguar XJ-S, already threw a shadow over group A. Although it was unlikely that in any year 5000 Jaguar XJS were produced, the car was homologated. BMW, who had rather raced the 635 CSi, but were sure that it couldn't be homologated anyway, homologated the 635 in 1983. An even more unlikely tourer, the Maserati Biturbo, got its homologation as well.
Another problem was that just 500 cars of an "evolution" type could be homologated, after homologation of the base model. So we were treated to Volvo turbo's with water injection, and a Sierre RS 500 with a big turbo, which made the street version nearly undrivable.
Despite all this, group A brought us great racing, impressive cars and some very heated competition. And Spa was back...
Frank de Jong
Amsterdam, the Netherlands