|1985 started as 1984
finished. Vatanen won the Monte Carlo although this time he had
to fight hard with Rohrl in the Sport Quattro. Blomqvist finished
4th also in a Sport. Sweden saw the 5th consecutive win for
Vatanen with Blomqvist runner up. Mikkola was 4th and Rohrl
retired from his least favourite event with engine failure.
Portugal was oh so close as Rohrl lead until the final day when
his gearbox broke dropping him to 3rd.. Vatanen had retired early
on so Rohrl's problems handed the win to Salonen in the 2nd
Peugeot. Blomqvist had a troubled rally back in 4th. Audi entered
2 Sports for the Safari but Blomqvist was out on the 5th stage
with gearbox failure and Mikkola retired on the 20th stage with
engine problems. Salonen managed to get the Peugeot home in 7th.
Corsica saw a surprise win for the new Renault 5 Maxi Turbo with
Bruno Saby 2nd with the all new evolution 2 Peugeot 205 T16. Only
Rohrl had entered and he retired with brake problems. Greece
showed that Peugeot had found strength as well as speed as
Salonen won from Blomqvist. Rohrl retired with suspension failure.
New Zealand saw Audi's fortunes slipping away further when
Peugeot scored their first 1-2 with Salonen leading Vatanen home.
Rohrl was 3rd and Blomqvist 4th. Argentina will be remembered for
the debut of the second evolution Sport Quattro, the multi-winged
S1 and also sadly for the accident that so nearly cost Vatanen
his life. Salonen won with Rohrl retiring the new car after 8
stages with engine failure. Finland saw Salonen win and claim the
drivers title but he was harried all the way by Blomqvist in the
S1. This car was much better balanced on the yumps as well as
producing a reported 550 bhp. Mikkola retired the second S1 with
engine failure. Italy saw the only win of the season with Rohrl
surprisingly dominating the San Remo in the S1. For once the
Peugeots had no answer and Salonen finished some 6 1/2 minutes
behind in 2nd. This was to be the Audi's swan song. A single
sport was entered for the Ivory Coast with Mouton at the wheel.
However, after problems, the car was withdrawn. The RAC was one
of the coldest for years with Ice and snow in abundance. Lancia
debuted the new delta S4 and had the perfect start with a 1-2 for Toivonen and Alen. Tony Pond was third in the New Metro 6R4. Both
S1's retired. Rohrl's semi automatic car rolled out on stage 16
and Mikkola 's car suffered electrical failure on the 23rd stage.
It was little consolation that all the Peugeots crashed out too.
Audi finished runners up in the makes series whilst Blomqvist was
second to Salonen in the drivers championship.
1986 will be remembered for the tragic loss of one of the most talented rally drivers ever, Henri Toivonen, and the demise of the Group B super cars. The year started with Toivonen winning the Monte Carlo despite a road accident. The Audi S1's were 3rd (Mikkola) and 4th (Rohrl). Blomqvist had moved to Ford to drive the new RS200 and Mouton was running a private Peugeot T16 E1. For the first time, Audi stayed away from Sweden to prepare for Portugal. It was this event that drove the first nail into the coffin of Group B but not to any fault of the cars. Poor crowd control meant that Santos in an RS200 came around a corner at speed only to find spectators in the road watching the car he was catching. He had nowhere to go except into the crowd. Three spectators were killed and dozens injured. However, the organisers did not immediately cancel the stage and so the following drivers were greeted by the horrific scene. All the top drivers immediately withdrew from the event and amazingly were criticised by the organisers for doing so. Audi took this further with the decision that rallying was not sufficiently well organised to cope with the speeds of the evolving Group B cars and so withdrew from active competition. Toivonen's death in Corsica led to the FIA banning Group B at the end of the 1986 season.