Part eleven, Germany, October 4 1987: New champ crashes out
Rallycross entered a boom period 25 years ago. Group B cars arrived en masse and, for the next six years, would dominate the sport. These monsters, exiled from rallying after a spate of accidents became faster, lighter and more powerful as, in Rallycross, they found their ultimate form. It’s true that every cloud has a silver lining, for Rallycross the cloud over rallying didn’t just present an opportunity but opened a golden era, perhaps the best years the sport has ever known. To mark that anniversary RallycrossWorld will look back at the 1987 season in parallel with the 2012 European Rallycross Championship.
Niittymäki leads Schanche into the first corner, they ended their race at the next bend. © Tim Whittington/RallycrossWorld.com
Seppo Niittymäki was almost certain to be the European champion before the final event of the year in Germany, the Finn confirming his title by taking his place on the A final grid, something he did with a certain amount of style by placing his Peugeot 205 T16E2 on pole with fastest times in the first two heats. There would be no perfect ending to the year for the Finn, however…
On the back of his strong showing at Lydden, Mark Rennison earned himself a run in the German event and qualified second to Niittymäki with third fastest times in the opening pair of heats and second in the third qualifier. Martin Schanche went to the main event in third place ahead of Matt Alamäki who’d won the ‘lap record race’ and may well have been higher up the grid had he not lost a certain third heat victory when the Lancia picked up a puncture. Will Gollop was the last direct qualifier but was then absent from the A final after the Metro 6R4 suffered its first mechanical problem of the year and was left in the paddock because of an engine problem.
One of the stars of the wet Norwegian event, Dagfinn Larsen brought his BiTurbo Metro 6R4 to Germany where he won the C final but was then unable to progress beyond sixth place in the B. Rolf Nilsson and RS200 colleague Mikael Nordström fought their way past the Porsche of Mauno Jokinen and then duelled for the B final victory, a battle in which the former came out on top.
Niittymäki led the A final from Schanche, the pair running side-by-side down the long straight to the second corner where Schanche’s RS200 snapped into a spin under braking, plunging into the sand trap on the outside of the corner and taking Niittymäki’s Peugeot with it. With Gollop a non-starter, just three cars were left, and as Nilsson had brushed the barriers in the first corner, it was really just two; Alamäki hounded all the way to the chequer by Rennison.