Welcome to Rally Flashback, where we revisit a previous running of the upcoming WRC round. This week we’re going back to the 1995 Rally de Catalunya, a rally famously affected by controversy.
The 1995 season was all about the battle between the 555 Subarus and the Castrol Celicas. The Mitsubishi Evo of part-time campaigner Kenneth Eriksson had won two rallies to this point, but would not contest Spain. Going into Catalunya, Toyota’s Juha Kankkunen, through the sheer force of his righteous mustache, led the championship over Subaru’s Colin McRae. The now-legendary Scot had clawed his way up from sixth in the points after a poor start to the season. Spaniard Carlos Sainz (Subaru) and Frenchman Didier Auriol (Toyota) were close behind in 3rd and 4th.
Toyota set the pace with a first stage victory by Armin Schwarz, and would win or equal first for twelve of the first fifteen stages between Schwarz and Kankkunen. Only Carlos Sainz would break through the Toyota onslaught for outright wins on SS2, 6, and 11, with equal first on SS7 and 9.
Ford’s Francois Delecour showed good pace, keeping his Cossie well up in the points, which would net him 4th at the end of the rally, though it didn’t look so at first. There was drama yet to come, which would work in his favor.
From that point, Toyota’s rally, and indeed its year, came apart. Kankkunen suffered a high speed crash after a poorly translated note caught him out, Schwarz too went off the road, and Auriol’s hood blew over the windshield before experiencing transmission issues. Kankkunen and Schwarz were out, but Auriol would continue, until...
The FIA, having removed Kankkunen’s turbo for a routine inspection, discovered that it contained a bypass after the inlet restrictor which allowed more air to enter the compressor. Additionally, the restrictor was not properly secured and was farther than the maximum 50mm from the compressor. These flagrant violations of the rules earned Toyota an unprecedented 12 month ban from the sport, with an immediate forfeiture of all points earned to that point in the season. In the context of this event, this cleared the way for a Subaru 1-2-3, which would not be without some controversy of its own.
Two-time World Champion Sainz had been Subaru’s best hope against the Toyotas here in Spain, and inherited the rally lead. McRae was on fire, however, winning or tying for first in Stages 15, 16, 18, 19, and 22. The points were close, and McRae, with a shot at the championship, was at his best. He initially disobeyed team orders to hold station in the order at the time of Toyota’s disqualification, at one point apparently running down a team manager standing in the roadway in an ill-considered attempt to slow him. He was later brought to task by David Richards, threatening immediate removal from the team, and thus took an intentional penalty to hold second to the end. Andrea Aghini would take his Mitsubishi to a stage win in SS23, the last of the rally, but Sainz would take the overall win at home, with teammates McRae and Piero Liatti behind.
For a detailed piece on Toyota’s turbo cheat, check out “Beautifully Engineered” HERE.
Here’s Eurosport’s summary of the rally:
And Subaru’s team order:
Enjoy the available live stages here on WRC Live: https://plus.wrc.com/live-stages/live/