A Revolutionary Midship Turbo 4WD Supercar
In 1981, Jean Todt ended his job as a co-driver at Talbot after helping the team to win the Manufacturers’ Title with a Sunbeam Lotus. He moved on to become the director of the new Peugeot Talbot Sport. Todt started working right away on building the new Group B era rally car. The project was called “M24 Rally.” During the 1981 WRC season, the Audi Quattro showed a great overall performance. It was a machine that showed the world the new style of rally car racing.
For a rally car, having a common identity with the manufacturer’s factory production car is the most important aspect. The new machine was thoroughly thought out to maintain the image of the 205, but still have the 4WD and turbo engine needed to win races. Peugeot used a midship unlike the Audi Quattro in order for the car to have full potential. The Peugeot 205 was introduced in 1983. Back then, the Group B required an annual production volume of 200 cars for the machine to pass the vehicle check. Peugeot started their sales of a 4WD midship car with a turbo engine. The 1.8L DOHC engine mounted in the 205 T16 with the 1.4 engine displacement multiplication factor back then would result in 2500 cc, and the minimum car weight set at 900kg.
The 1984 Tour de Course was the debut race for the 205 Turbo 16. With Lancia 037, Audi Quattro, Renault 5 Turbo, and the Opel Ascona already competing since the beginning of the season. Everyone was interested to see where the 205 Turbo 16 would place. The drivers for Peugeot were Ali Vatanen, the 1981 WRC champion, and Jean-Pierre Nicolas. Lancia’s Markku Alen lead the race in the beginning but retired due to machine trouble. Vatanen came out on top with the 205 Turbo 16. With the rain coming down towards the middle of the race, Peugeot widened its lead from the competitors. There were rumors that the midship turbo 4WD rally car would be too innovative for rally racing, but the performance proved otherwise. However, at SS20 Vatanen coursed out and retired from the race. Nonetheless, Nicolas ranked in fourth for the machine’s debut race. In the next round, Acropolis, both machines experienced engine and drive shaft troubles with resulted in the two cars not finishing the race. However, the speed that both cars had been surprised the competitors. Peugeot’s first victory with the 205 Turbo 16 was in the 1000 Lakes Rally. Vatanen lead 31 out of 51 SS and proved that the new 4WD torque split system used in the machine was performing well. Vatanen went on to win Sanremo and RAC. Although the 1984 Manufacturers’ Title and Drivers’ Title went to Audi with Stig Lennart Blomqvist, Peugeot definitely brought in a new era of cars.
In the 1985 Monte Carlo and Sweden, which were the two first rounds of the season, Vatanen finished in the first place. In Portugal, his teammate Timo Salonen claimed the victory. Although the team missed the wins in Safari and Tour de Course, Salonen won four consecutive wins from Acropolis to 1000 Lakes. Peugeot won the year’s Manufacturers’ Championship Title, and Salonen won his fifth consecutive Drivers’ Championship Title. That year at the Tour de Course, the evolution model E2 debuted. The horsepower was raised from 350 to 450. In Sanremo, power steering was adopted into the machine. However, Peugeot’s competitor, Lancia also debuted their S4 changing with their previous 037 at the RAC and won the race. 1986 was a year everyone expected a Peugeot vs Lancia battle. Also, Vatanen experienced a major crash in Argentina, and it took him a year and a half to get back into rally racing.
The driver that came to Peugeot was Juha Kankkunen, who previously raced with Toyota. With Vatanen’s absence, Kankkunen helped Peugeot battle against Lancia. Just as expected, he won Sweden, Acropolis and New Zealand. Salonen won the 1000 Lakes Rally. At the Sanremo Rally in Italy, Peugeot and Lancia were leading the race with a close battle. However, all of a sudden, the 205 Turbo 16 E2 was disqualified. The race organizers pointed out their use of illegal side skirts. As a result, Sanremo was won by Lancia’s Markku Alen. Alen went on to win more rounds after Sanremo and won the championship. However, the FIA announced later that the results of Sanremo were annulled, and all teams were cleared of their points in the round. As a consequence, Alen was ripped off his title as champion, and Kankkunen won the season’s championship instead.
With the accident that took place during the Tour de Course, the WRC decided that Group B will end in 1986. The 205 Turbo 16 E2 changed its racing mound to rally raid. Vatanen and Shekhar Mehta entered in the 1987 Dakar Rally, and Vatanen’s 205 Turbo GR won. Vatanen also entered the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb (USA) in the same year but lost to the Audi Quattro S1 driven by Walter Röhrl.
Peugeot didn’t return to the WRC until 1995 with the 306 MAXI F2 kit car.
Results of Peugeot 205 Turbo 16
|1984||1000 Lakes Rally||A.Vatanen||T.dHarryman||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16|
|1984||Rallye Sanremo||A.Vatanen||T.dHarryman||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16|
|1984||RAC Rally||A.Vatanen||T.dHarryman||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16|
|1985||Rallye de Monte-Carlo||A.Vatanen||T.dHarryman||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16|
|1985||Swedish Rally||A.Vatanen||T.dHarryman||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16|
|1985||Rallye de Portugal||T.Salonen||S.Harjanne||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16|
|1985||Acropolis Rally||T.Salonen||S.Harjanne||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2|
|1985||Rally of New Zealand||T.Salonen||S.Harjanne||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2|
|1985||Rally of Argentina||T.Salonen||S.Harjanne||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2|
|1985||1000 Lakes Rally||T.Salonen||S.Harjanne||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2|
|1986||Swedish Rally||J.Kankkunen||J.Piironen||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2|
|1986||Tour de Corse||B.Saby||J-F.Fauchille||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2|
|1986||Acropolis Rally||J.Kankkunen||J.Piironen||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2|
|1986||Rally of New Zealand||J.Kankkunen||J.Piironen||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2|
|1986||1000 Lakes Rally||T.Salonen||S.Harjanne||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2|
|1986||RAC Rally||T.Salonen||S.Harjanne||Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 E2|