1983 Lancia LC2Lancia's re-introduction into the world of racing began with their 1.4 liter turbocharged four-cylinder racer dubbed the Beta Monte Carlo. With its engine size it qualified for the under-two liter category of the Group 5 class. Its potential was immediately realized and it dominated the 1979 through 1981 seasons winning the class World Championship. For the 1982 season, Lancia wanted to showcase their potential in an even more competitive class.
Lancia created a spyder bodied, four-cylinder racer called the LC1. It was built to Group C class specifications which focused heavily on limiting the amount of fuel used throughout the race. The four-cylinder engine was relatively fuel efficient, but it was seriously lacking in power when compared with its competition, such as the Porsche 956. Lancia did not have an engine to combat its competition so they turned to Ferrari which supplied a 308 QV variant. The V8, DOHC engine was modified to displace 2.65 liters and two KKK turbochargers were adapted. The legendary turner, Abarth, was tasked with performing the engine modifications. The 2.65 displacement size was chosen so that it would be eligible for competing at the Indianapolis 500. The engine was matted to a Hewland five-speed manual gearbox with disc brakes at all four-wheels. The chassis was designed by Gianpaulo Dallara and comprised of carbon-fibre and kevlar. Ground effects were formed to create additional down force. A radiator was used to cool the engine while intercoolers kept the turbo's at a reasonable temperature. The LC2 was finished in a white color with Martini stripes. Red and blue stripes were adorned over the front wheel wells.
At the 1983 Le Mans race, Lancia entered three examples of their LC2 racers. The vehicles proved their capability with speeds that rivaled those of the Porsche 956's. During the first few hours of the race, it appeared as though Lancia might emerge from the race victorious. This would not be the case; by the thirteenth hour, all three racers had retired due to various mechanical difficulties. Porsche went on to get the first eight places, humiliating the rest of the field.
For the following LeMans race, Lancia came even more prepared. Their engine was improved to displace even more horsepower while achieving better fuel economy; even the aerodynamics had been improved from the prior year.
Lancia entered two works cars for the 1984 LeMans endurance race. Since Porsche had chosen to boycott the race due to problems with the event's organizers, Lancia was poised to take home the checkered flag. During qualifications, Lancia secured both cars at the front row. During the first few hours of the race, the Lancia's were virtually un-contended. Bob Wollek recorded the fastest lap in his LC2 and the work's cars were on their way to victory. Unfortunately, mechanical difficulties again plagued the cars resulting in a disappointing eighth place. The engine and aerodynamics of the car were its strength but LeMans tests much more than that. The twenty-four hours of racing at high speeds tests the cars, drivers, and teams. Lancia had only a portion of this formula worked out.
A third visit to LeMans in 1985 saw further improvements to the racer. The engine had been enlarged to three-liters boasting an impressive 850 horsepower. During qualification, the car earned a third place grid position. At the start of the race, the car quickly muscled its way to the front of the pack. Everything was set for Lancia to experience the success they so desperately sought. They had seen much success on the World Rally Championship with their Lancia Fulvia and Stratos, and wanted to prove their potential at LeMans. Sadly, when the checkered flag fell the two works cars had managed a sixth and seventh place finish. Mechanical difficulties had again plagued the car's potential. Just as they had done in 1955, Lancia decided to retire from road racing.
During its career, the Lancia LC2 had captured two championship races and a second place finish in the World Championship.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2010
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