Mohd Azad Jasmi

By: Azad Jasmi

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Thursday, 3-Jul-2008 17:40 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Into the world of Statutory Declaration (SD).

I dont like to discuss on the SDs done by Raja Petra and Saiful but when there's another guy called Balasubramaniam did another SD, I presume that Malaysia will be entering into another chapter of SD Competition, which may leave the public to be constantly less focused on their daily tasks and dilute their attention on the current economic situation and most people will be rushing to grab the newspapers early in the morning or surf on the net to get to read the related blogs pertaining Malaysia's political scenarion in order to know, if there's another person SD is lodged. We are now entering into the world on Statutory Declaration. Below is the SD done by Balasubramaniam. May be someone else will be furnishing us with another SD tomorrow and followed by another one on the following day.

Read the STATUTORY DECLARATION below.



THE STATUTORY DECLARATION


I, Balasubramaniam a/l Perumal (NRIC NO: xxxxxx-xx-6235) a Malaysian Citizen of full age and residing at xxxxx, Selangor do solemly and sincerely declare as follows :-

1. I have been a police officer with the Royal Malaysian Police Force having jointed as a constable in 1981 attached to the Police Field Force. I was then promoted to the rank of lance Corporal and finally resigned from the Police Force in 1998 when I was with the Special Branch.

2. I have been working as a free lance Private Investigator since I left the Police Force.

3. Sometime in June or July 2006, I was employed by Abdul Razak Baginda for a period of 10 days to look after him at his office at the Bangunan Getah Asli, Jalan Ampang between the hours of 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m each working day as apparently he was experiencing disturbances from a third party.

4. I resigned from this job after 2 ½ days as I was not receiving any proper instructions.
5. I was however re-employed by Abdul Razak Baginda on the 05-10-2006 as he had apparently received a harassing phone call from a Chinese man calling himself ASP Tan who had threatened him to pay his debts. I later found out this gentleman was in fact a private investigator called Ang who was employed by a Mongolian woman called Altantuya Shaaribuu.

6. Abdul Razak Baginda was concerned that a person by the name of Altantuya Shaaribuu, a Mongolian woman, was behind this threat and that she would be arriving in Malaysia very soon to try and contact him.

7. Abdul Razak Baginda informed me that he was concerned by this as he had been advised that Altantuya Shaaribuu had been given some powers by a Mongolian ‘bomoh’ and that he could never look her in the face because of this.

8. When I enquired as to who this Mongolian woman was, Abdul Razak Baginda informed me that she was a friend of his who had been introduced to him by a VIP and who asked him to look after her financially.

9. I advised him to lodge a police report concerning the threatening phone call he had received from the Chinese man known as ASP Tan but he refused to do so as he informed me there were some high profile people involved.

10. Abdul Razak Baginda further told me that Altantuya Shaaribuu was a great liar and good in convincing people. She was supposed to have been very demanding financially and that he had even financed a property for her in Mongolia.

11. Abdul Razak Baginda then let me listen to some voice messages on his handphone asking him to pay what was due otherwise he would be harmed and his daughter harassed.
12. I was therefore supposed to protect his daughter Rowena as well.

13. On the 09.10.2006 I received a phone call from Abdul Razak Baginda at about 9.30 a.m. informing me that Altantuya was in his office and he wanted me there immediately. As I was in the midst of a surveillance, I sent my assistant Suras to Abdul Razak Baginda’s office and I followed a little later. Suras managed to control the situation and had persuaded Altantuya and her two friends to leave the premises. However Altantuya left a note written on some Hotel Malaya note paper, in English, asking Abdul Razak Baginda to call her on her handphone (number given) and wrote down her room number as well.
14. Altantuya had introduced herself to Suras as ‘Aminah’ and had informed Suras she was there to see her boyfriend Abdul Razak Baginda.
15. These 3 Mongolian girls however returned to Abdul Razak Baginda’s office at the Bangunan Getah Asli, Jalan Ampang again, the next day at about 12.00 noon. They did not enter the building but again informed Suras that they wanted to meet Aminah’s boyfriend, Abdul Razak Baginda.

16. On the 11.10.2006, Aminah returned to Abdul Razak Baginda’s office on her own and gave me a note to pass to him, which I did. Abdul Razak Baginda showed me the note which basically asked him to call her urgently.

17. I suggested to Abdul Razak Baginda that perhaps it may be wise to arrange for Aminah to be arrested if she harassed him further, but he declined as he felt she would have to return to Mongolia as soon as her cash ran out.
18. In the meantime I had arranged for Suras to perform surveillance on Hotel Malaya to monitor the movements of these 3 Mongolian girls, but they recognized him. Apparently they become friends with Suras after that and he ended up spending a few nights in their hotel room.
19. When Abdul Razak Baginda discovered Suras was becoming close to Aminah he asked me to pull him out from Hotel Malaya.
20. On the 14.10.2006, Aminah turned up at Abdul Razak Baginda’s house in Damansara Heights when I was not there. Abdul Razak Baginda called me on my handphone to inform me of this so I rushed back to his house. As I arrived, I noticed Aminah outside the front gates shouting “Razak, bastard, come out from the house”. I tried to calm her down but couldn’t so I called the police who arrived in 2 patrol cars. I explained the situation to the police, who took her away to the Brickfields police station.
21. I followed the patrol cars to Brickfields police station in a taxi. I called Abdul Razak Baginda and his lawyer Dirren to lodge a police report but they refused.
22. When I was at the Brickfields police station, Aminah’s own Private Investigator, one Mr. Ang arrived and we had a discussion. I was told to deliver a demand to Abdul Razak Baginda for USD$500,000.00 and 3 tickets to Mongolia, apparently as commission owed to Aminah from a deal in Paris.

23. As Aminah had calmed down at this stage, a policewoman at the Brickfields police station advised me to leave and settle the matter amicably.

24. I duly informed Abdul Razak Baginda of the demands Aminah had made and told him I was disappointed that no one wanted to back me up in lodging a police report. We had a long discussion about the situation when I expressed a desire to pull out of this assignment.

25. During this discussion and in an attempt to persuade me to continue my employment with him, Abdul Razak Baginda informed me that :-
25.1 He had been introduced to Aminah by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at a diamond exhibition in Singapore.
25.2 Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak informed Abdul Razak Baginda that he had a sexual relationship with Aminah and that she was susceptible to anal intercourse.
25.3 Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wanted Abdul Razak Baginda to look after Aminah as he did not want her to harass him since he was now the Deputy Prime Minister.
25.4 Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Abdul Razak Baginda and Aminah had all been together at a dinner in Paris.

25.5 Aminah wanted money from him as she felt she was entitled to a USD$500,000.00 commission on a submarine deal she assisted with in Paris.

26. On the 19.10.2006, I arrived at Abdul Razak Baginda’s house in Damansara Heights to begin my night duty. I had parked my car outside as usual. I saw a yellow proton perdana taxi pass by with 3 ladies inside, one of whom was Aminah. The taxi did a U-turn and stopped in front of the house where these ladies rolled down the window and wished me ‘Happy Deepavali’. The taxi then left.

27. About 20 minutes later the taxi returned with only Aminah in it. She got out of the taxi and walked towards me and started talking to me. I sent an SMS to Abdul Razak Baginda informing him “Aminah was here”. I received an SMS from Razak instructing me “To delay her until my man comes”.
28. Whist I was talking to Aminah, she informed me of the following :-
28.1 That she met Abdul Razak Baginda in Singapore with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
28.2 That she had also met Abdul Razak Baginda and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at a dinner in Paris.
28.3 That she was promised a sum of USD$500,000.00 as commission for assisting in a Submarine deal in Paris.
28.4 That Abdul Razak Baginda had bought her a house in Mongolia but her brother had refinanced it and she needed money to redeem it.
28.5 That her mother was ill and she needed money to pay for her treatment.
28.6That Abdul Razak Baginda had married her in Korea as her mother is Korean whilst her father was a Mongolian/Chinese mix.
28.7 That if I wouldn’t allow her to see Abdul Razak Baginda, would I be able to arrange for her to see Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

29. After talking to Aminah for about 15 minutes, a red proton aeroback arrived with a woman and two men. I now know the woman to be Lance Corporal Rohaniza and the men, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azahar. They were all in plain clothes. Azilah walked towards me while the other two stayed in the car.

30. Azilah asked me whether the woman was Aminah and I said ‘Yes’. He then walked off and made a few calls on his handphone. After 10 minutes another vehicle, a blue proton saga, driven by a Malay man, passed by slowly. The drivers window had been wound down and the driver was looking at us.

31. Azilah then informed me they would be taking Aminah away. I informed Aminah they were arresting her. The other two persons then got out of the red proton and exchanged seats so that Lance Corporal Rohaniza and Aminah were in the back while the two men were in the front. They drove off and that is the last I ever saw of Aminah.

32. Abdul Razak Baginda was not at home when all this occurred.
33. After the 19.10.2006, I continued to work for Abdul Razak Baginda at his house in Damansara Heights from 7.00 p.m. to 8.00 a.m. the next morning, as he had been receiving threatening text messages from a woman called ‘Amy’ who was apparently ‘Aminah’s’ cousin in Mongolia.

34. On the night of the 20.10.2006, both of Aminah’s girl friends turned up at Abdul Razak Baginda’s house enquiring where Aminah was. I informed them she had been arrested the night before.

35. A couple of nights later, these two Mongolian girls, Mr. Ang and another Mongolian girl called ‘Amy’ turned up at Abdul Razak Baginda’s house looking for Aminah as they appeared to be convinced she was being held in the house.

36. A commotion began so I called the police who arrived shortly thereafter in a patrol car. Another patrol car arrived a short while later in which was the investigating officer from the Dang Wangi Police Station who was in charge of the missing persons report lodged by one of the Mongolians girls, I believe was Amy.

37. I called Abdul Razak Baginda who was at home to inform him of the events taking place at his front gate. He then called DSP Musa Safri and called me back informing me that Musa Safri would be calling handphone and I was to pass the phone to the Inspector from Dang Wangi Police Station.

38. I then received a call on my handphone from Musa Safri and duly handed the phone to the Dang Wangi Inspector. The conversation lasted 3 - 4 minutes after which he told the girls to disperse and to go to see him the next day.

39. On or about the 24.10.2006, Abdul Razak Baginda instructed me to accompany him to the Brickfields police station as he had been advised to lodge a police report about the harassment he was receiving from these Mongolian girls.

40. Before this, Amy had sent me an SMS informing me she was going to Thailand to lodge a report with the Mongolian consulate there regarding Aminah’s disappearance. Apparently she had sent the same SMS to Abdul Razak Baginda. This is why he told me he had been advised to lodge a police report.

41. Abdul Razak Baginda informed me that DPS Musa Safri had introduced him to one DSP Idris, the head of the Criminal division, Brickfields police station, and that Idris had referred him to ASP Tonny.

42. When Abdul Razak Baginda had lodged his police report at Brickfields police station, in front of ASP Tonny, he was asked to make a statement but he refused as he said he was leaving for overseas. He did however promise to prepare a statement and hand ASP Tonny a thumb drive. I know that this was not done as ASP Tonny told me.

43. However ASP Tonny asked me the next day to provide my statement instead and so I did.

44. I stopped working for Abdul Razak Baginda on the 26.10.2006 as this was the day he left for Hong Kong on his own.

45. In mid November 2006, I received a phone call from ASP Tonny from the IPK Jalan Hang Tuah asking me to see him regarding Aminah’s case. When I arrived there I was immediately arrested under S.506 of the Penal Code for Criminal intimidation.

46. I was then placed in the lock up and remanded for 5 days. On the third day I was released on police bail.
47. At the end of November 2006, the D9 department of the IPK sent a detective to my house to escort me to the IPK Jalan Hang Tuah. When I arrived, I was told I was being arrested under S.302 of the Penal Code for murder. I was put in the lock up and remanded for 7 days.

48. I was transported to Bukit Aman where I was interrogated and questioned about an SMS I had received from Abdul Razak Baginda on the 19.10.2006 which read “delay her until my man arrives”. They had apparently retrieved this message from Abdul Razak Baginda’s handphone.
49. They then proceeded to record my statement from 8.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. everyday for 7 consecutive days. I told them all I knew including everything Abdul Razak Baginda and Aminah had told me about their relationships with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak but when I came to sign my statement, these details had been left out.
50. I have given evidence in the trial of Azilah, Sirul and Abdul Razak Baginda at the Shah Alam High Court. The prosecutor did not ask me any questions in respect of Aminah’s relationship with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak or of the phone call I received from DSP Musa Safri, whom I believe was the ADC for Datuk Seri Najib Razak and/or his wife.

51. On the day Abdul Razak Baginda was arrested, I was with him at his lawyers office at 6.30 a.m. Abdul Razak Baginda informed us that he had sent Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak an SMS the evening before as he refused to believe he was to be arrested, but had not received a response.

52. Shortly thereafter, at about 7.30 a.m., Abdul Razak Baginda received an SMS from Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and showed, this message to both myself and his lawyer. This message read as follows :- ” I am seeing IGP at 11.00 a.m. today …… matter will be solved … be cool”.

53. I have been made to understand that Abdul Razak Baginda was arrested the same morning at his office in the Bangunan Getah Asli, Jalan Ampang.

54. The purpose of this Statutory declaration is to :-
54.1 State my disappointment at the standard of investigations conducted by the authorities into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Altantuya Shaaribuu.

54.2 Bring to the notice of the relevant authorities the strong possibility that there are individuals other than the 3 accused who must have played a role in the murder of Altantuya Shaaribuu.
54.3 Persuade the relevant authorities to reopen their investigations into this case immediately so that any fresh evidence may be presented to the Court prior to submissions at the end of the prosecutions case.

54.4 Emphasize the fact that having been a member of the Royal Malaysian Police Force for 17 years I am absolutely certain no police officer would shoot someone in the head and blow up their body without receiving specific instructions from their superiors first.
54.5. Express my concern that should the defence not be called in the said murder trial, the accused, Azilah and Sirul will not have to swear on oath and testify as to the instructions they received and from whom they were given.

55. And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declaration Act 1960.

SUBCRIBED and solemnly )

declared by the abovenamed )

Balasubramaniam a/l Perumal ]

this day of 2008 )
Before me,

………………………………….
Commissioner for Oath
Kuala Lumpur





Thursday, 3-Jul-2008 17:35 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Malaysia & A World in Turmoil

I recently read about some news related to the topic posted by our Malaysia's ex Prime Minister in his blog. You may or may not agree with the points written but at least there are some notes for us to ponder on the current economic turmoil. Below are the well-written points:-

1. The Malaysian Government appears not to be perturbed by what is happening in the world.

2. It appears to be convinced that it can isolate and insulate itself from whatever is happening to the world.

3. It seems to be confident that it will be left untouched.

4. It merely reacts to situations as they arise one by one.


5. The mainstream media hardly ever mention the turmoil that the world is facing. Certainly no in-depth analysis has been made. Only Malaysian Business has asked whether we are prepared for the worldwide catastrophe that must bring chaos and problems to our economy, finance, politics and social life. The rest seemed blithely unconcerned. Certainly the people are not being prepared for the inevitable.

6. We are admittedly more fortunate than many other countries. When costs are rising and manufactured exports are shrinking, our commodities have come to our aid. Our export earnings from petroleum and gas, palm oil, rubber and tin have increased many times over.

7. The rise in the price of petrol and products has begun to affect our lives, our living standards and our complacency.

8. We produce about 650,000 barrels a day, consume 400,000 and export roughly 250,000 barrels. We used to earn 30 US Dollar per barrel; today we earn 140 US Dollar, almost all profit. Work out the revenue from 250,000 barrels per day for one year.

9. Besides, we produce 900,000 barrels equivalent of gas, mostly exported. There is no need to take notice of the petrol we produce in Sudan and elsewhere, all selling at 100 US Dollar plus.

10. But we also earn more, much more from palm oil. It used to cost us RM600 per ton to produce. It must be slightly more now. But one ton of palm oil used to sell for RM800 before. Now it sells for more than RM3,000. The palm oil plantation companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

11. But the prices of rubber and even tin have also increased tremendously.

12. For the Government it must mean a great increase in revenue. The profits from petroleum accrue 100% to the Government. I believe in 2006 when oil price was about 70 US Dollar Petronas made a profit before tax of 60 billion Ringgit.

13. Whereas the tax on corporate incomes of the manufacturing companies is minimal, corporate tax revenue from companies producing and exporting palm oil, rubber and tin is very high. If we care to look at the profits of companies today many make well over a billion a year, some more than three billion.

14. So the Government should be flushed with money. But companies not involved in the production of raw material cannot be doing so well. Their imported raw materials including oil and components have all increased in price. They have to increase their export and domestic prices but profits may be less.

15. The construction companies have few contracts to share among themselves. The big Government projects have not materialised. The sub-contractors and building material suppliers are not doing well either.

16. The big construction companies have gone abroad. Some are doing quite well but they cannot help Malaysian subcontractors as the local subcontractors are entitled to get the contracts.

17. Malaysian investors are also not investing in the country. They have a good choice for making money investing in such countries as China and Vietnam. They will pay taxes in these countries.

18. In the meantime the world is undergoing a traumatic economic and financial turmoil. It began with the devaluation of the US Dollar. I do not know how much US Dollar bonds are held by Malaysia. I remember telling the Governor of Bank Negara to reduce our dollar holdings before I stepped down. I hope she has done so. Otherwise we would lose 80 Malaysian sen for every US Dollar we hold. When we hold 30 or 40 billion US Dollar the loss can be considerable.

19. We may make some money from the other currencies which have appreciated against our Ringgit.

20. The US Dollar is going to go down further due to unwise playing around with money. Sub-prime lending was considered profitable before but now the market has collapsed. The loan papers had been readily bought by institutions but now the papers are worthless because no one wants to buy them. And the borrowers are not paying simply because they have no money.

21. The US which condemned us so righteously for bailing out companies now approves massive bailouts by Institutions and the Federal Reserve Bank. These are not small amounts. They are talking about US200 - US400 billion dollars.

22. Bear Stearns sale is a classic case but other banks are faring no better. They will have to sell at fire-sale prices like the banks of Southeast Asia had to do after currency traders bankrupted these banks. A taste of their own medicine should have a salutary effect on the arrogance of the big money people, and their countries.

23. The financial problems of the United States have spilled over to the European countries. They too had been involved in sub-prime lending, either directly or indirectly.

24. The US dollar is going to shrink further as countries unload their dollar holdings, refuse to buy US Dollar bonds, and use other currencies for trading. Oil producers may demand to be paid in their own currencies. The international financial regime will then collapse.

25. The US Dollar is not backed by anything. It sustains its value because it is used as a trading currency. When countries start using other currencies for trading and quickly dispose off the US Dollar in favour of Euro or Yen; when the US Dollar is no longer used for the reserves of the rich countries, then the US Dollar will not be worth the paper on which it is printed.

26. The United States already suffers from twin deficits. When the dollar becomes useless the United States will go into deep recession. Printing more money by the Federal Reserve Bank (which incidentally is not owned by the Government but by other banks) will only result in its devaluation and inflation in the United States.

27. The United States must surely go into severe recession (I am sure the United States will do something illegal in order to prevent this from happening). But whatever, United States recession will affect the whole world.

28. Unprecedentedly the world is experiencing food shortages, something which it had not seen for decades.

29. I will not say anything about the world as everyone knows and I know I am not an economist or a financial expert. But I will try and guess what would happen to Malaysia.

30. Twenty percent of our export goes to the United States. Obviously this market would not be able to absorb what we have to sell to them. We will not lose all but quite a substantial sum will be lost.

31. The economies of the developed countries will also suffer, maybe less than the United States. But our export to them would shrink also.

32. With the money form our petroleum export and revenue from other raw materials we had been able to subsidise for some time. But the prices of fuel and other goods will all increase far beyond the percentage of the increase in oil prices after the subsidy was withdrawn. This is aggravated by the actual increase in prices of foodstuff and food grains, building materials, and assorted imported goods. Even the items produced within the country will increase in price because of imported contents.

33. But the Government is still talking about 5%-7% inflation. This is quite meaningless to lower and middle-income people who must pay 40% more for petrol and 100% more for rice. Other necessities too have increased in price by well over 5%-7%. Stopping price control in the belief that the market will determine prices is imprudent.

34. One of the reasons why Malaysia's inflation rates had remained low compared to other developing countries and even some developed countries is the control over prices of essential goods. Without control there will always be profiteering. And profiteering will result in a high rate of inflation.

35. Today wage earners in particular are suffering. Wages have not increased to compensate for increased cost of living. While chasing prices with increases in wages can cause a wage/price spiral, but judicious increases to cushion off the rising costs would reduce the impact of inflation on the lower income people.

36. Malaysia must give up the idea of competing on the basis of low cost labour. Against China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia we just cannot win. We must provide other elements attractive to investors.

37. Confidence in the consistency of Government policies and political stability would be among the factors attractive to business. There can be a lot of other things that can be provided to offset the rise in wages. After all we must remember that many developed countries have very high wages. Even if we double the salaries and wages paid in Malaysia we would still be far lower than wages in developed countries.

38. We had planned to go hi-tech in order to increase income. But there is not much moving in the implementation of this policy. Instead we want to be an agricultural country again. Planting food crops on the side tables of roads may increase food production but it will not help fight inflation on the scale needed for overcoming the turmoil in the world.


Thursday, 26-Jun-2008 16:31 Email | Share | | Bookmark
History of Le Mans 24 Hours

Circuit de la Sarthe Ford Chicanes
The diesel-powered Audi R10
The dominant Group C formula - Porsche 962s (1982-1993)
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The 24 Hours of Le Mans (24 Heures du Mans) is a sports car endurance race held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, Sarthe, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance, it is organised by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and runs on a circuit containing closed public roads that are meant not only to test a car and driver's ability to be quick, but also to last over a 24-hour period.

Purpose

At a time when Grand Prix racing was occurring throughout Europe, Le Mans was envisioned as a different test from motorsports at the time. Instead of focusing on the ability of a car company to build the fastest machines of the time, the 24 Hours of Le Mans would instead concentrate on the ability of manufacturers to build sporty yet reliable cars. This would drive innovation in not only reliable but also fuel-efficient vehicles, since the nature of endurance racing requires as little time to be spent in the pits as possible.

At the same time, due to the design of Le Mans, a drive would be created for better aerodynamics and stability of cars at high speeds. While this was shared with Grand Prix racing, few tracks in Europe featured straights the length of the Mulsanne. The fact that the road is public and therefore not maintained to the same quality as some permanent racing circuits also puts more of a strain on parts, causing more emphasis on reliability. Beginning in the late 1970s, the demand for fuel economy from around the world led the race to adopt a fuel economy formula known as Group C in which competitors were given a set amount of fuel, from which they had to design an engine. Although Group C was abandoned when teams were able to master the fuel formulas, fuel economy would still be important to some teams as alternative fuel sources would appear in the early 21st century, attempting to overcome time spent during pit stops.
These technological innovations have had a trickle-down effect, with technology used at Le Mans finding its way into production cars several years later. This has also led to faster and more exotic supercars due to manufacturers wishing to develop faster road cars for the purposes of developing them into even faster GT cars.

The Race

The race field has usually consisted of approximately 50 competitors. Each car is required to have no fewer than two seats, although in recent years only the ability to place a seat in the cockpit has been understood but not enforced. No more than two doors are allowed; open cockpit cars do not require doors.
Although all cars compete at the same time, there are separate classes. An overall winner is awarded at the end of the event, while class prizes are given as well.
Classes have varied over the years, but currently there are four. Custom-built Le Mans Prototypes (LMP) are the top two classes, LMP1 and LMP2, divided by speed, weight, and power output. The next two classes are production-based grand tourer (GT) classes, also divided by speed, weight, and power output as GT1 and GT2. Although the top class is the most likely winner of the event, lower classes have won on occasion due to better reliability.

Drivers

Originally, there were no rules on the number of drivers in a car or how long they can drive. Although almost all teams used two drivers in the early decades, some Le Mans drivers like Pierre Levegh attempted to run the race themselves, hoping to save time by not having to change drivers, although this was later banned. Up until the 1980s there were teams where only two drivers competed, but by the end of the decade it was placed into the rules that at least three drivers were necessary.
By the 1990s, due to the speeds of the cars and the strain it put on drivers, further rules were put in place in order to aid in driver safety. Drivers could not drive more than four hours consecutively, and no one driver could run for more than fourteen hours total. This has reduced driver fatigue during the races.

Unique rules and traditions

Although the 24 Hours of Le Mans was part of the World Sportscar Championship for most of its existence, it has regularly had rules which differed from those used in other series, partially due to the length of the event. Some rules are for safety reasons, while others are for the purposes of competition.
For many decades, cars were required to run at least an hour into the race before they were allowed to refill fluids for the car, such as oil or coolant, with the exception of fuel. This was an attempt by the ACO to help increase efficiency and reliability. Cars which could not last the first hour without having to replace lost fluids were disqualified.

Another rule that is unique to Le Mans is a requirement for cars to be shut off while they are being refueled in the pits. Based not only the notion that it is safer and less of a fire hazard to do so, this also allows for another test of reliability, because cars have to test their ability to restart many times under race conditions. Another element of this rule is that mechanics are not allowed to work on the car or its tires while it is being refueled, which has led teams to adapt innovative ways in which to decrease the time of these lengthy pit stops. As an exception to this rule, drivers are allowed to get out of the car and be replaced by another driver during refueling.

At Le Mans there are various traditions that have been seen over the years. One of the longest lasting is the waving of the French tricolor to start the race. This is usually followed by a fly-over featuring jets trailing red, white and blue smoke. A similar flag tradition is the waving of safety flags during the final lap of the race by track marshals, congratulating the winners and other finishers. The 24 Hours of Le Mans also saw the first known instance at a major race of a winning driver celebrating by spraying champagne instead of drinking it. When Dan Gurney won the 1967 race with co-driver A.J. Foyt, the two drivers mounted the victory stand and Gurney was handed a magnum of champagne. Looking down, he saw Ford CEO Henry Ford II, team owner Carroll Shelby and their wives, as well as several journalists who had predicted disaster for the high-profile duo. Gurney shook the bottle and sprayed everyone nearby, establishing a tradition reenacted in victory celebrations the world over for the next 40 years. Gurney, incidentally, autographed and gave the bottle of champagne to a LIFE magazine photographer, Flip Schulke, who used it as a lamp for many years. He recently returned the bottle to Gurney, who keeps it at his home in California.

Schedule

The first race was held on May 26 and 27 1923 and has since been run annually in June, with exceptions occurring in 1956, when the race was held in July, and 1968, when it was held in September, due to nationwide political turmoils earlier that year (see May 1968). The race has been cancelled twice: once in the year 1936 (Great Depression) and from 1940 to 1948 (World War II and its aftermath).
The race weekend also usually takes place the second weekend of June, with qualifying and practice taking place on the Wednesday and Thursday before the race, following an administrative scrutineering of the cars on Monday and Tuesday. Currently these sessions are held in the evening, with two separate two hour sessions held each night. A day of rest is scheduled on Friday, and includes a parade of all the drivers through the center of the town of Le Mans.

A test day was also usually held prior to the event, traditionally at the end of April or beginning of May. These test days served as a pre-qualification for the event, with the slowest cars not being allowed to appear again at the proper qualifying. However, with the cost necessary to transport cars to Le Mans and then back to their respective series in between the test and race weeks, the test day was moved to the first weekend of June for 2005. The notion of pre-qualifying was also eliminated in 2000, when all competitors invited to the test would be allowed into the race. The Le Mans Legend races have also been part of the schedule since 2001, usually running exhibition races during qualifying days, a few hours prior to the sessions for the Le Mans entrants.

Traditionally, the race starts at 16:00 on the Saturday, although in 1968 the race started at 14:00 due to the lateness of the race on the calendar. In both 1984 and 2007, the start time was moved ahead to 15:00 due to the conflicting French General Election. In 2006, the ACO scheduled a 17:00 start time on Saturday, June 17 in order to maximize television coverage in between the FIFA World Cup games. Discussions are being held that may see the regular start time being moved to 15:00 from 2008 onwards.

Classification

Originally, the race results were actually determined by distance. The car which covered the greatest distance was declared the winner. This is known to have caught out the Ford team in 1966. With a dominant 1-2 lead, the two cars slowed to allow for a photo opportunity at the finish line, with Denny Hulme slightly ahead of Bruce McLaren. However, since McLaren's car had actually started much farther back on the grid from Hulme, McLaren's car had actually covered the farthest distance over the 24 hours. With the margin of victory determined to be eight meters, McLaren and co-driver Chris Amon were declared the winners. This distance rule was later changed with the advent of rolling starts, leading to the winner being declared by number of laps.

To be classified in the race results, a car is required to cross the finish line after 24 hours. This has led to dramatic scenes where damaged cars wait in the pits or on the edge of the track close to the finish line for hours, then restart their engines and crawl across the line to be listed amongst the finishers. However, this practice of waiting in the pits was banned in recent years with a requirement that a team complete a set distance within the last hour to be classified.
Another rule put into place by the ACO was the requirement that cars complete 70% of the distance covered by the winner. A car failing to complete this number of laps, even if it finished the race, was not deemed worthy of classification due to the poor reliability or speed.

Le Mans start

The permanent main straight and pits for both the Circuit de la Sarthe and Bugatti Circuit.
The races traditionally began with what became known as the Le Mans start, in which cars were lined up alongside the pit wall in the order in which they qualified. The starting drivers would stand on the opposite side of the front stretch. When the French flag dropped to signify the start, the drivers would run across the track to their cars, which they would have to enter and start without assistance, before driving away. This became a safety issue in the late 1960s when drivers would ignore their safety harnesses, a recent invention. This led to drivers running the first few laps either improperly harnessed due to attempting to do it while driving or sometimes not even harnessed at all, leading to several deaths when cars were involved in accidents due to the bunched field at the start.

This starting method inspired Porsche to locate the ignition key switch to the left of the steering wheel. This allowed the driver to use his left hand to start the engine, and his right hand to put the transmission into gear. This location of the ignition key switch is still found today on all Porsche models.
Feeling this type of start was unsafe, the 1969 event saw Le Mans rookie Jacky Ickx oppose the method by walking across the track while his competitors ran. Although nearly hit by a faster competitor's car while walking, Ickx took the time to fasten his safety belts before pulling away. Sadly, the first lap of that race saw privateer racer John Woolfe killed in an accident, while Ickx would go on to win the race.
The traditional Le Mans practice was altered for 1970. Cars were still lined up along the pit wall, but the drivers were already inside and strapped in. At the dropping of the French tricolor, the drivers would then start their engines and drive away. However, in 1971 this method would be done away with altogether as a rolling start (sometimes known as an Indianapolis start) was introduced, which has been used ever since.

The circuit


The circuit on which the 24 Hours of Le Mans is run is named the Circuit de la Sarthe (Circuit of the Sarthe), after the Sarthe department that Le Mans is within. It consists of both permanent track and public roads that are temporarily closed for the race. Since 1923 the track has been extensively modified, mostly for safety reasons, and currently is 13.65 km in length. Although it initially entered the town of Le Mans, the track was cut short in order to better protect spectators. This led to the creation of the Dunlop Curve and Tertre Rouge corners before rejoining the old circuit on the Mulsanne. Another major change was on the Mulsanne itself, when the FIA decreed that it would no longer sanction any circuit which had a straight longer than 2 km. This led to the addition of two chicanes, slowing the high speeds that cars had been capable of reaching on the old five km long straight.

The public sections of the track differ from the permanent circuit, especially in comparison to the Bugatti Circuit which is inside the Circuit de la Sarthe. Due to heavy traffic in the area, the public roads are not as smooth or well kept. They also offer less grip because of the lack of soft tyre rubber laid down from racing cars, though this only affects the first few laps of the race. The roads are closed only within a few hours of the practice sessions and the race, before being opened again almost as soon as the race is finished. Workers have to assemble and dismantle safety barriers every year for the public sections.

History

1923-1939

The 24 Hours of Le Mans was first run on May 26 and 27, 1923, through public roads around Le Mans. Originally planned to be a three year event awarded the Rudge Whitworth Triennial Cup, with a winner being declared by the car which could go the farthest distance over three consecutive 24 Hour races, this idea was abandoned in 1928 and overall winners were declared for each single year depending on who covered the farthest distance by the time 24 hours were up. The early races were dominated by French, British, and Italian drivers, teams, and cars, with Bugatti, Bentley, and Alfa Romeo being the dominant marques. Innovations in car design began appearing at the track in the late 1930s, with Bugatti and Alfa Romeo running highly aerodynamic bodywork in order to run down the Mulsannes Straight at faster speeds. In 1936 the race was cancelled due to general strikes in France, then with the outbreak of World War II in late 1939, the race went on a ten year hiatus while France reconstructed itself.

1949-1969

Following the reconstruction of the circuit facilities, the race was resumed in 1949 with renewed interest from major automobile manufacturers. After the formation of the World Sportscar Championship in 1953, of which Le Mans was a part, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, and many others began sending multiple cars backed by their respective factories to compete for overall wins against their competitors. Unfortunately this fierce competition would also lead to tragedy with an accident during the 1955 race in which the car of Pierre Levegh crashed into the crowd of spectators, killing more than 80 people. This led to widespread safety measures being brought into place not only at the circuit, but elsewhere in the motorsports world. However, even though the safety standards improved, so did the speeds of the cars. The move from open-cockpit roadsters to closed-cockpit coupes would help produce speeds over 320 km/h on the Mulsanne. Race cars of the time were still mostly based on production road cars, but by the end of the 1960s, the Ford Motor Company would enter the picture with their GT40s, taking four straight wins before the era of production-based wins would come to a close.

1970-1981

For the new decade, the race took a turn towards more extreme speeds and automotive designs. These extreme speeds led to the replacement of the typical standing Le Mans start with a rolling Indianapolis start. Although production-based cars still raced, they were now in the lower classes while purpose-built sportscars become the norm. The Porsche 917, 935, and 936 were dominant throughout the decade, but a resurgence by French manufacturers Matra-Simca and Renault saw the first victories for the nation since the 1950 race. This decade is also remembered for strong performances from many privateer constructors, with two scoring the only victories for a privateer. John Wyer's Mirage won in 1975 while Jean Rondeau's self-titled chassis took 1980.

1982-1993

The rest of the 1980s was known for the dominance by Porsche under the new Group C race car formula which pushed for fuel efficiency. Originally running the effective 956, it was later replaced by the 962. Both chassis were cheap enough for privateers to purchase them en masse, leading to the two chassis winning six years in a row. Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz returned to sports car racing while an influx of Japanese manufacturer interest saw prototypes from Nissan and Toyota. However, Mazda's unique rotary-powered 787B would be the only manufacturer to succeed. For 1992 and 1993, Peugeot entered the sport and dominated the race as the Group C formula and World Sportscar Championship were fading in participation.

The circuit would also undergo one of its most notable changes in 1990, when the 5 km long Mulsanne was modified to include two chicanes in order to stop speeds of upwards of 386 km/h from being reached. This began a trend by the ACO to continually attempt to slow portions of the track down, although speeds over 320 km/h are still regularly reached at various points on a lap.
1994-1999

Following the demise of the World Sportscar Championship, Le Mans saw a resurgence of production-based grand tourer cars. Thanks to a loophole in the rules, Porsche was successfully able to convince the ACO that a Dauer 962 Le Mans supercar was a production car, allowing Porsche to race their Porsche 962 for one final time, dominating the field. Although the ACO attempted to close the loop hole for 1995, newcomer McLaren would win the race in their supercar's first appearance thanks to reliability, beating faster yet more trouble prone prototypes. The trend would continue through the 90s as more exotic supercars were built in order to skirt the ACO's rules regarding production-based race cars, leading to Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Nissan, Panoz, and Lotus entering the GT categories. This culminated in the 1999 event, in which these GT cars were faced with the Le Mans Prototypes of BMW, Audi, and Ferrari. BMW would survive with the victory, their first ever.

This strong manufacturer influence led the ACO to lending the Le Mans name to a sports car series in the United States in 1999, known as the American Le Mans Series, which competes to this day and serves to qualify teams to enter Le Mans.

2000-2007

Following the 1999 event, many major automobile manufacturers would pull out of sports car racing due to the costs associated with running the event. Among them, only Audi would remain, easily dominating the race with their R8. Although Panoz, Chrysler, and MG would all briefly attempt to take on Audi, none could match the R8's performance. After three victories in a row, Audi provided engine, team staff and drivers to their corporate partner Bentley, who had returned in 2001, and the factory Bentleys were able to succeed ahead of privateer Audis in 2003. At the end of 2005, after five overall victories for the R8, and six to its V8 turbo engine, Audi took on a new challenge by introducing a diesel engined prototype known as the R10 TDI. Although not the first diesel to race, it was the first to achieve victory at Le Mans. This era saw other alternative fuel sources being used, including bio-ethanol, while Peugeot decided to follow Audi's lead and also pursue a diesel entry in 2007 with their Peugeot 908.

A second ACO-backed series was also formed, similar to the American Le Mans Series, but concentrating on Europe. The Le Mans Endurance Series (later shortened to Le Mans Series), would resurrect many well known 1000 km endurance races. This would later be followed by the Asian centered Japan Le Mans Challenge in 2006.

Innovations

Over its lifetime, Le Mans has seen many types of innovations in automotive design in order to counteract some of the difficulties that the circuit and race present. These innovations have either been dictated by rules or have been attempts by manufacturers to outwit the competition. Some of these innovations have made their way into the common automobile and are used nearly every day.

Aerodynamics

One of the keys to Le Mans is top speed, caused by the long straights that dominate the circuit. This has meant that cars have attempted to achieve the maximum speeds possible instead of relying on downforce for the turns. While early competitors cars were street cars with their bodywork removed to reduce weight, innovators like Bugatti developed cars which saw the beginnings of aerodynamics. Nicknamed Tanks due to their similarity to a tank, these cars used simple curves to cover all the mechanical elements of the car and increase top speed. Once Le Mans returned after World War II, most manufacturers would adopt closed bodies which were streamlined for better aerodynamics. This led to a separation from Grand Prix cars, which rarely had large bodywork.

As the years went on, bodywork became larger while at the same time lighter. The larger bodywork was able to provide more downforce for the turns without increasing the drag, allowing cars to maintain the high top speeds. These extended bodyworks would usually concentrate on the rear of the car, usually being termed long tail. The bodywork also began to cover the cockpit for less drag, although open cockpits would come and go over the years as rules varied. Aerodynamics reached its peak in 1989 before the Mulsanne Straight was modified. During the 1988 race, the crew of a W.M. prototype taped over the engine openings and set a recorded speed of 404 km/h (251 mph) down the Mulsanne in an attempt for some publicity, although the car was nearly undrivable elsewhere on the circuit and the engine was soon destroyed from a lack of cooling. However, for the 1989 event, the Mercedes-Benz C9 reached 399 km/h (248 mph) under qualifying conditions.

Engines

A wide variety of engines have competed at Le Mans, in attempts to not only achieve greater speed but also to have better fuel economy, and spend less time in the pits. Engine sizes have also varied greatly, with the smallest engines being a mere 569 cc (Simca Cinq) and the largest upwards of 7986 cc (Chrysler Viper GTS-R). Supercharging was an early innovation for increasing output, first being raced in 1929, while turbocharging would not appear until 1974.
The first car to enter without an engine run by pistons would be in 1963, when Rover partnered with British Racing Motors to run a gas turbine with mixed success, repeating again in 1965. The American Howmet Corporation would attempt to run a turbine again in 1968 with even less success. Although the engines offered great power, they were notoriously hot and uneconomical for fuel.

Another non-piston engine that would appear would be a Wankel engine, otherwise known as the rotary engine. Run entirely by Mazda since its introduction in 1970, the compact engine would also suffer from fuel economy problems like the turbine had, yet would see the success that the turbine lacked. After many years of development, Mazda finally succeeded in being the only winner of the race to not have a piston-powered engine, taking the 1991 event with the 787B.
Alternative fuel sources would also play a part in more normal engine designs, with the first non-gasoline car appearing in 1949. The Delettrez Special would be powered by a diesel engine, while a second diesel would appear in the form of the M.A.P. the following year. Although diesel would appear at other times over the race existence, it would not be until 2006 when a major manufacturer, Audi, would invest in diesels and finally succeed, with the R10 TDI.

Ethanol fuel appeared in 1980 in a modified Porsche 911, taking a class win. The alternative biological fuel source would return again 2003 with Team Nasamax, leading to the ACO deciding that the 2008 event will see all cars running partial mixtures of bio-ethanol fuel.

Brakes

With increased speeds around the track, brakes become a key innovation for teams attempting to safely bring their cars down to a slow enough speed to make turns such as Mulsanne Corner. Disc brakes were first seen on a car when the Jaguar C-Type raced at Le Mans in 1953. The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR would introduce the concept of an air brake in 1955, using a large opening hood on the rear of the car.
In the 1980s, anti-lock braking systems would become standard on most Group C cars as a safety measure, ensuring that cars did not lose control while still moving at approximately 320 km/h. By the late 1990s, reinforced carbon-carbon brakes would be adapted for better stopping power and reliability.

Successful marques and drivers

The most succesful driver at Le Mans of all time, Tom Kristensen. He has won the race eight times.
Over the years, many manufacturers have managed to take the overall win, while even more have taken class wins. By far the most successful marque in the history of the race is Porsche, who have taken 16 overall victories, including seven in a row from 1981 to 1987. Ferrari follows with nine, also including six in a row from 1960 to 1965, while Jaguar has seven wins. Bentley, Alfa Romeo, and Ford all managed to win four races in a row, with Bentley recording two other victories in other years as well. Recently the Audi marque has dominated the event, winning in eight of the ten years they have participated. Audi and Team Joest have had two hat-tricks, the first being in 2000, 2001, and 2002. The only Japanese marque to win the race so far has been Mazda, although nearly every major Japanese manufacturer has made attempts at the race. Mazda's 1991 victory also saw the only win by a rotary engine, one of Mazda's hallmarks.
For drivers, two drivers stand apart for their number of victories. Initially Jacky Ickx held the record at six, scoring victories between 1969 and 1982, earning him an honorary citizenship to the town of Le Mans. However newcomer Tom Kristensen has been able to quickly eclipse this record with eight wins between 1997 and 2008, including six in a row. Three-time winner Woolf Barnato is still the only driver to have won every Le Mans he has participated in, from 1928 to 1930.
Henri Pescarolo has won the race four times, yet currently holds the record for the most Le Mans appearances at 33. Japan's Yojiro Terada, currently still active as a driver, holds the record for the most Le Mans starts without a win.

Accidents

With the high speeds associated with Le Mans, the track has seen a number of accidents, some of which have been fatal to drivers and spectators. The worst moment in Le Mans history was during the 1955 race in which more than 80 spectators and driver Pierre Levegh were killed. In the shock following this disaster, many major and minor races were cancelled in 1955, such as the Grand Prix races in Germany and Switzerland, the latter banning motorsport throughout the entire country. This accident brought wide sweeping safety regulations to all motorsports series, for both driver and spectator protection. In 1986 Jo Gartner drove a Porsche 962C and crashed into the barriers on the Mulsanne straight, killing him instantly. His accident was the most recent fatality in the race itself, however there was a fatality in 1997 during the practices.

In one of the most recognizable recent accidents, calamity would once again strike Mercedes-Benz, although without fatality. The Mercedes-Benz CLRs which competed in 1999 would suffer from aerodynamic instabilities that caused the cars to become airborne in the right conditions. After initially happening at the Le Mans test day, Mercedes claimed they had solved the problem, only to have it occur again at Warm Up hours before the race. Mark Webber was the unlucky driver to flip the car on both occasions. The final and most damaging accident occurred during the race itself when Peter Dumbreck's CLR became airborne and then proceeded to fly over the safety fencing, landing in the woods several metres away. No drivers were badly hurt in any of the three accidents, but Mercedes-Benz quickly withdrew their remaining entry and ended their entire sportscar program.

Appearances in media

The 1969 event, known for its close finish, was documented in a short film entitled La Ronde Infernale. This was given a limited cinema release but is now available on DVD.
The race became a major motion picture in 1971 when Steve McQueen released his simply titled Le Mans, starring McQueen as Michael Delaney, a driver in the 1970 event for the Gulf Porsche team. Likened to other motorsports films such as Grand Prix for Formula One racing and Winning for the Indianapolis 500, Le Mans is the best known film to center on sports car racing. It was filmed during the race using modified racing cars carrying cameras, as well as purchased Porsche 917s, Ferrari 512s and Lola T70s for action shots made after the race. The Porsche 908 which served as a camera car in the race actually finished, yet was so far behind the winners due to lengthy reel changes during pit stops that it was not classified in the results.

A modern film not centering on Le Mans yet featuring events from the 2002 race was Michel Valliant, about a French comic book motorsports hero. Again using two camera cars to tape action during the race, the French film was not as widely accepted as Le Mans had been. The 1974 TV show The Goodies also featured an episode entitled The Race, involving a comedic trio attempting to run Le Mans.
The race has also been used for several video games over the years, some of which have allowed players to compete for the full 24 hours. Although most used the Le Mans name itself, the PlayStation 2 game Gran Turismo 4 also included the Circuit de la Sarthe and allowed players to run the full 24 hour races with or without the chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight.

Coverage

Motors TV have covered the Le Mans 24 Hours in the entirety since 2006. This has included coverage of the scrutineering, qualifying, driver parade, warm up and the whole race. In the United States, Speed Channel airs partial live coverage through a combination of coverage from the French host broadcaster and their own pit reporting crew. In 2008, Motors TV will no longer have television rights for the race, while Eurosport secured a multi-year deal to show the entire race including the qualifying and the motorcycle race. Every hour of the 2008 race will be broadcast but only partly on the main channel, while Eurosport 2 broadcasts the rest of the segments. Also live streaming video coverage will be provided on Eurosport's web page.

The race is also broadcast on radio by Radio Le Mans. Broadcast from the circuit for the full 24 hours as well as before and after, it offers fans at the race the ability to listen to commentary through radio. Radio Le Mans is also broadcast through internet radio on their website, or on the GlobeCast Radio channel on Sky Digital.

Vintage racing

Since 2001, the ACO has allowed the Le Mans Legend event to participate on the full Circuit de la Sarthe during the 24 Hours week. These exhibition races involve classic cars which had previously run at Le Mans or similar to ones that had. Each year, a set era of cars is allowed to participate, with the era changing from year to year. Though mostly amateur drivers, some famous drivers have appeared to race cars they had previously run, such as Stirling Moss.
Starting in 2002, the Le Mans Classic has taken place on the full 13 km circuit in July, as a biannual event. The races take places over a full 24 hour day/night cycle, with starts on set times allowing cars from the same era to compete at the same time. A team typically consists of a car in each class, and the team with the most points accumulated over five or six classes declared the overall winner. The classes are based on the era in which the cars would have competed, the exact class requirements are re-evaluated for every event since for every event the age for the youngest entries is shifted by 2 years. Although the format of the first event saw 5 classes doing more short races, later events have seen 6 classes do less but longer races. With the upcoming 2008 event probably allowing early Group C contenders, this format could see yet another revision with either more classes or classes spanning longer periods in time. Drivers are also required to have an FIA International Competition license to participate. This event also includes a large concours and auction.

References
• Le Mans 1965 in Automobile Historique nº48 May 2005 (in French)
• 24 heures du Mans 1973 in Automobile Historique nº49 June/July 2005 (in French



Saturday, 12-Apr-2008 04:23 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Group B Era

The beginning of Group B

Rallying today is growing in leaps and bounds; More manufacturers than ever are taking part in the world rally championship, and even more are participating in various national championships. Last year, 16.5 million people spectated at the 14 rounds of the WRC, the highest live attendance figure of any form of motorsport. The drivers are among the best in the world, and the cars are extremely quick and very entertaining to watch.

But there was a time when rallying was very different. The early 1980s saw a category created specifically for manufacturers who wanted to show off their engineering capabilities; Group B was born. The Group B rally supercars quickly evolved into 500+ horsepower, four-wheel-drive chest-thumping beasts with space frames, kevlar bodywork, and many other high-tech pieces. The cars reached a point where many wondered if the cars had reached a point where the drivers could not fully control them. For instance, the Lancia Delta S4 could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.3 seconds on a gravel road. Henri Toivonen drove an S4 around Estoril, the Portuguese Grand Prix circuit, so quickly that he would have qualified sixth for the 1986 Portuguese Grand Prix. Nigel Mansell sampled a Peugeot 205 T16 and said it could out-accelerate his F1 car. And, perhaps most impressive (frightening?), the driver's reaction times were cut in half compared with previous rally cars. The Group B rally cars and their pilots were the stuff of which legends are made.

The early 1980s saw a category created specifically for manufacturers who wanted to show off their engineering capabilities; Group B was born. The Group B rally supercars quickly evolved into 500+ horsepower, four-wheel-drive chest-thumping beasts with space frames, kevlar bodywork, and many other high-tech pieces. Extrapolated from a minimum series of 200 in basicly simmilar roadgoing cars. The group B cars reached a point where many wondered if the cars had reached a point where the drivers could not fully control them. For instance, the Lancia Delta S4 could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.3 seconds on a gravel road. Henri Toivonen drove an S4 around Estoril, the Portuguese Grand Prix circuit, so quickly that he would have qualified sixth for the 1986 Portuguese Grand Prix. Nigel Mansell sampled a Peugeot 205 T16 and said it could out-accelerate his F1 car. And, perhaps most impressive (frightening?), the driver's reaction times were cut in half compared with previous rally cars. The Group B rally cars and their pilots were the stuff of which legends are made.

The 205 T16's pace in Corsica shocked the rally community. Peugeot had built a strong team, with Ari Vatanen as the driver and Jean Todt (now the manager of the Ferrari F1 team) running the rally program. Vatanen crashed out of the Corsican rally, but went on to give the 205 its first win at the 1000 Lakes rally in Finland later that year. By this time, Audi had introduced it's Sport Quattro, while the Lancia 037 was already showing it's age. Peugeot looked set to walk away with the 1985 titles after an impressive year of preparation during 1984.

Peugeot did dominate most of the 1985 season, but things didn't go according to plan. Peugeot lost Ari Vatanen in a near-fatal crash in Argentina, but his teammate Timo Salonen took up the challenge and brought both titles to Peugeot. However, the 1985 RAC rally saw a whole pack of new challengers hungry to challenge Peugeot's dominance. Lancia debuted its new Delta S4, which was supercharged and turbocharged, Ford unveiled the RS200, Audi entered it's radical S1 Quattro, and Peugeot countered the newcomers with the 205 T16 Evolution 2. Lancia's new S4 came away with first and second places; by this point, wings had to be added to the cars to keep them on the road.

The end of Group B
The pace of technology in Group B was astounding, but FISA was planning Group S. Group S was to be a class which would allow manufacturers to produce highly futuristic cars, and only ten copies would be required for homologation. However, the inevitable finally happened: during the 1986 Port Wine rally in Portugal, a Ford RS200 left the road on a spectator stage, killing three and injuring dozens; after the crash, all the works teams withdrew from the rally. But the final blow for Group B came on May 4, 1986.

Lancia's lead driver, Henri Toivonen, was dominating the 1986 championship and the Tour de Corse rally when his S4 left the road during a twisty tarmac stage. The car went off the edge of the road, hitting trees and rocks while sliding down a hillside. Toivonen and his navigator, Sergio Cresto, were killed. There were no witnesses to the crash, and the subsequent fire completely destroyed the car, leaving the remains unrecognizable as a vehicle. The heat from the fire was so intense that all that remained of the car was a blackened space frame. Group B and Group S were instantly cancelled for the 1987 season; Ford and Audi withdrew from Group B immediately. The other works teams decided to see the season out.

Rallying after Group B

Rallying after Group B looks a bit different. The replacement cars, the Group A and WRC classes, are getting close to the speeds of the Group B cars, but they aren't quite there yet. One only has to look at the fastest times up Pike's Peak for a comparison between the speed differences of the Group A & B cars. But the modern rally cars are very spectacular and exciting to watch. Modern rally drivers are among the best drivers in the world. Plus, rallying today has more factory teams already participating or planning entries in the WRC. Rallying today is growing in leaps and bounds; More manufacturers than ever are taking part in the world rally championship, and even more are participating in various national championships. Last year, 16.5 million people spectated at the 14 rounds of the WRC, the highest live attendance figure of any form of motorsport. The drivers are among the best in the world, and the cars are extremely quick and very entertaining to watch.
Was it right for FISA to ban the Group B cars? If FISA had done a better job of regulating the cars, then maybe the Group B cars could have stayed. But since FISA focused the majority of their attention on F1, they didn't realize how fast the Group B cars had become; it took an accident like Toivonen's to get FISA's attention. The Group B cars had reached the point where they belonged on a racetrack, not on a rally stage. The cars were so fast that a driver's eyes didn't have time to adjust their focus properly between corners. Group B lived a short, but very interesting, life






Saturday, 12-Apr-2008 04:23 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Group B Era

The beginning of Group B

Rallying today is growing in leaps and bounds; More manufacturers than ever are taking part in the world rally championship, and even more are participating in various national championships. Last year, 16.5 million people spectated at the 14 rounds of the WRC, the highest live attendance figure of any form of motorsport. The drivers are among the best in the world, and the cars are extremely quick and very entertaining to watch.

But there was a time when rallying was very different. The early 1980s saw a category created specifically for manufacturers who wanted to show off their engineering capabilities; Group B was born. The Group B rally supercars quickly evolved into 500+ horsepower, four-wheel-drive chest-thumping beasts with space frames, kevlar bodywork, and many other high-tech pieces. The cars reached a point where many wondered if the cars had reached a point where the drivers could not fully control them. For instance, the Lancia Delta S4 could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.3 seconds on a gravel road. Henri Toivonen drove an S4 around Estoril, the Portuguese Grand Prix circuit, so quickly that he would have qualified sixth for the 1986 Portuguese Grand Prix. Nigel Mansell sampled a Peugeot 205 T16 and said it could out-accelerate his F1 car. And, perhaps most impressive (frightening?), the driver's reaction times were cut in half compared with previous rally cars. The Group B rally cars and their pilots were the stuff of which legends are made.

The early 1980s saw a category created specifically for manufacturers who wanted to show off their engineering capabilities; Group B was born. The Group B rally supercars quickly evolved into 500+ horsepower, four-wheel-drive chest-thumping beasts with space frames, kevlar bodywork, and many other high-tech pieces. Extrapolated from a minimum series of 200 in basicly simmilar roadgoing cars. The group B cars reached a point where many wondered if the cars had reached a point where the drivers could not fully control them. For instance, the Lancia Delta S4 could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.3 seconds on a gravel road. Henri Toivonen drove an S4 around Estoril, the Portuguese Grand Prix circuit, so quickly that he would have qualified sixth for the 1986 Portuguese Grand Prix. Nigel Mansell sampled a Peugeot 205 T16 and said it could out-accelerate his F1 car. And, perhaps most impressive (frightening?), the driver's reaction times were cut in half compared with previous rally cars. The Group B rally cars and their pilots were the stuff of which legends are made.

The 205 T16's pace in Corsica shocked the rally community. Peugeot had built a strong team, with Ari Vatanen as the driver and Jean Todt (now the manager of the Ferrari F1 team) running the rally program. Vatanen crashed out of the Corsican rally, but went on to give the 205 its first win at the 1000 Lakes rally in Finland later that year. By this time, Audi had introduced it's Sport Quattro, while the Lancia 037 was already showing it's age. Peugeot looked set to walk away with the 1985 titles after an impressive year of preparation during 1984.

Peugeot did dominate most of the 1985 season, but things didn't go according to plan. Peugeot lost Ari Vatanen in a near-fatal crash in Argentina, but his teammate Timo Salonen took up the challenge and brought both titles to Peugeot. However, the 1985 RAC rally saw a whole pack of new challengers hungry to challenge Peugeot's dominance. Lancia debuted its new Delta S4, which was supercharged and turbocharged, Ford unveiled the RS200, Audi entered it's radical S1 Quattro, and Peugeot countered the newcomers with the 205 T16 Evolution 2. Lancia's new S4 came away with first and second places; by this point, wings had to be added to the cars to keep them on the road.

The end of Group B
The pace of technology in Group B was astounding, but FISA was planning Group S. Group S was to be a class which would allow manufacturers to produce highly futuristic cars, and only ten copies would be required for homologation. However, the inevitable finally happened: during the 1986 Port Wine rally in Portugal, a Ford RS200 left the road on a spectator stage, killing three and injuring dozens; after the crash, all the works teams withdrew from the rally. But the final blow for Group B came on May 4, 1986.

Lancia's lead driver, Henri Toivonen, was dominating the 1986 championship and the Tour de Corse rally when his S4 left the road during a twisty tarmac stage. The car went off the edge of the road, hitting trees and rocks while sliding down a hillside. Toivonen and his navigator, Sergio Cresto, were killed. There were no witnesses to the crash, and the subsequent fire completely destroyed the car, leaving the remains unrecognizable as a vehicle. The heat from the fire was so intense that all that remained of the car was a blackened space frame. Group B and Group S were instantly cancelled for the 1987 season; Ford and Audi withdrew from Group B immediately. The other works teams decided to see the season out.

Rallying after Group B

Rallying after Group B looks a bit different. The replacement cars, the Group A and WRC classes, are getting close to the speeds of the Group B cars, but they aren't quite there yet. One only has to look at the fastest times up Pike's Peak for a comparison between the speed differences of the Group A & B cars. But the modern rally cars are very spectacular and exciting to watch. Modern rally drivers are among the best drivers in the world. Plus, rallying today has more factory teams already participating or planning entries in the WRC. Rallying today is growing in leaps and bounds; More manufacturers than ever are taking part in the world rally championship, and even more are participating in various national championships. Last year, 16.5 million people spectated at the 14 rounds of the WRC, the highest live attendance figure of any form of motorsport. The drivers are among the best in the world, and the cars are extremely quick and very entertaining to watch.
Was it right for FISA to ban the Group B cars? If FISA had done a better job of regulating the cars, then maybe the Group B cars could have stayed. But since FISA focused the majority of their attention on F1, they didn't realize how fast the Group B cars had become; it took an accident like Toivonen's to get FISA's attention. The Group B cars had reached the point where they belonged on a racetrack, not on a rally stage. The cars were so fast that a driver's eyes didn't have time to adjust their focus properly between corners. Group B lived a short, but very interesting.





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