1982 WRC Season Commentary

1982 WRC Summary by Chris Biewer :

This is the first year of group B. As it is a transition year in which groups B, 4 & 2 compete alongside each other, the group positions awarding makes points system receives another twist.

As for the 1982 event calendar, the Rally New Zealand has returned. However the Rally Argentina had to be cancelled because of the Falkland War. Thankfully that situation calmed in time for next year. The Rallye do Brasil 1982 was a major embarrassement. Muddy events are generally a welcome, interesting and unique challenge, but mixed with unpassable passages and huge organisational short comings, this one had only 5 cars at the finish, 2 of which were alcohol driven Volkswagens that scored makes points! To add to the annoyment of the works teams, there were not enough cars for group points in group 4, so Audi and Opel got only half points and were beaten in the scores by the alcoholic Volkswagens!

Sweden and Bandama count to the driver WRChampionship only and best 7 results are counted.

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Amazingly, for the third year running the reigning WRChampion is without a drive! This time this is a result of Rothmans switching their cigarette millions from David Sutton to the Opel works team while David Sutton himself jumps at the chance to be running Audi Sport UK in the BRC. The private Ford WRC team is no longer and Ari Vatanen is without a WRC drive.

Before the MCD turn R-E-D team buys two David Sutton Escorts to at least run Ari Vatanen in a BRC program, Ari manages a most curious farewell to his title winning Ford time: David Sutton - who in 1982 is Audi Sport UK - enters Ari in the Rally Sweden. It is the most legendary Vatanen/Rothmans Escort UYY 256S and since this is past deadline the last entry of an Escort by the David Sutton team, they don't even trouble to remove the old Rothmans colour scheme - who moved to Opel. Indeed you could say Ari drove a Ford in Opel colours run by Audi! He comes 2nd overall too, despite an early off and despite this being a snow rally in the 4x4 era!

But more than one team has realised during 1981 that 4x4 & turbo is the future of the WRC. Not only does David Sutton turn his back on the conventional Escorts, the reigning manufacturer WRChampions Peugeot Talbot Sport quit running the conventional Talbot Sunbeam Lotus in the WRC. Instead the 1981 Guy Fréquelin navigator, Jean Todt, is appointed to set up a whole new operation that will develop a new 4x4 turbo group B car.

In this connection it is worth to mention that there was some confusion around Stig Blomqvist as to whether he was a works driver for Audi or not. He was not, even though the results may suggest differently. Stig remained under contract with Talbot, so Talbot's BRC and RAC outings remained a priority for Stig, but as time allowed he was a rather regular WRC guest with official Audi team.

The Röhrl-Opel partnership was not a happy one. Röhrl publically blamed the car for the crash in Portugal, saying he could never trust this car again. As soon as Röhrl won the driver WRChampionship on the penultimate round, he duly refused to start on the RAC, where Opel still had a good chance to win the manufacturer WRChampionship. 1982 ended in one of the biggest public arguments the WRC has ever seen.

The drivers title final itself was a sad curiosity. We were so close to have a lady driver win that title, but during the penultimate round Bandama Rallye Michèle Mouton learned about the death of her dad, understandably lost nerves, crased out and that was that.

Combine the last 3 chapters above with the fact that there was no nomination system for makes points, and we have the most amazing season's showdown that year: For the last round, RAC 1982, the makes title battle was still open between Opel and Audi. Walter Röhrl refused to start this rally for Opel. Although Stig Blomqvist won 2 WRC events for Audi, his Peugeot-Talbot UK contract meant he was not available for Audi in this last round. And still these 2 makes gathered a most amazing driver line up for this last event: Opel with Ari Vatanen, Henri Toivonen, Jimmy McRae, Jochi Kleint & Björn Johansson, Audi with Hannu Mikkola, Michèle Mouton, Malcolm Wilson, John Buffum, Harald Demuth & Lasse Lampi - 11 cars between only these 2 teams! Of course there were also works entries from Lancia, Peugeot-Talbot, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota.... what an entry in one event!
 

1982 WRC Factory Team and Driver Line Ups :
 

Audi Audi, 1982 - Audi Sport : 1st on 116 points.
 

 

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Opel Opel, 1982 - Rothmans Opel Rally Team : 2nd on 104 points.
 

 

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Nissan Nissan, 1982 - Nismo Datsun : 3rd on 57 points.
 

 

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Ford Ford, 1982 - Ford : 4th on 55 points.
 

 

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Toyota Toyota, 1982 - TTE : 5th on 41 points.
 

 

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Renault Renault, 1982 - Régie Renault : 6th on 34 points.
 

 

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Porsche Porsche, 1982 - Fréres Almeras avec Esso : 7th on 28 points.
 

 

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Mitsubishi Mitsubishi, 1982 - Denzel Ralli Art : 8th on 28 points.
 

 

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Lancia Lancia, 1982 - Martini Racing Lancia Abarth : 9th on 25 points.
 

 

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Peugeot Peugeot, 1982 - Peugeot Talbot Sport : 10th on 24 points.
 

 

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Citroën Citroën, 1982 - Citroën Sport : 11th on 23 points.
 

 

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Ferrari Ferrari, 1982 - Charles Pozzi : 12th on 16 points.
 

 

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Volkswagen Volkswagen, 1982 - Volkswagen do Brasil (alcohol!) : 13th on 14 points.
 

 

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Mazda Mazda, 1982 - Rod Millen : 14th on 14 points.
 

 

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MG Rover MG Rover, 1982 - BL Cars : 15th on 12 points.
 

 

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Subaru Subaru, 1982 - STI Nurijuki Koseki : 16th on 10 points.
 

 

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