Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16v #5 – Ixo

16v #5
1990 Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16v #5
Pilots: J. Kankkunen / J. Piironen
Team: Martini Lancia 
Race: 2nd overall at the Safari Rally in 1990
Ixo - RAC425C (diecast)

Published 12/08/23

In 1982, FIA altered the production car category of the famous Appendix J. FIA is always messing with racing rules, however in this particular episode they introduced the controversial Group B. Being succinct, Group B was too much. Though many consider the Group B years (1982 – 1986) as the “Golden Era of Rallying”, it was a rough time. Group B rules allowed manufacturers to go crazy with their cars, with very little restrictions. Though the cars were cutting edge, they were too fast and almost uniformly hard to handle. Moreover, rally racing in the early 80s was HUGELY popular, with European races attracting tens of thousands of spectators. And these crowds closely participated in the race action – pilots complained that they had to go through “human chicanes”. Yet, despite the obvious danger, race authorities were not very proactive in crowd control. So, what happened? Insane cars + unruly crowds = tragedy.

16v #5
Truth be told, the Delta’s first WRC title came because there was not much competition.

By 1986, after numerous accidents involving cars and fans, FIA pulled the plug. After the fatal accident of Henri Toivonen in the 1986 Tour de Corse, FIA banned Group B. With that, they promoted Group A as the top rallying class, with engine limits of 2000 cm³ and 300 hp. By then, every manufacturer who competed in the WRC used Group B-spec cars. In the case of Lancia, in 1986 it was the outrageous Delta S4. Since the FIA banned the S4, Lancia had to go back to the “base” of the S4, the Lancia Delta. Though the Delta HF 4WD had some shortcomings, with its four-wheel drive however, it worked out very well. So well in fact that Lancia won the 1987 WRC without much effort. The following year competition finally picked up, so Lancia evolved the HF into the Delta HF Integrale. And again, Lancia won the WRC.

16v #5
The success of the Delta in the WRC made the passenger car immensely popular and a commercial success.

In 1989, to keep above their competitors, Lancia released the Delta HF Integrale 16v. The 16v version, with its 1995 cm³ turbo-charged 16 valves inline-4 could deliver up to 330 hp. By then the playing field became harder, with competition coming mainly from Toyota. Nonetheless, the Integrale 16v was still the best, and Lancia won its third consecutive WRC. For the following 1990 season, Lancia didn’t change much in the car. So, for the 38th edition of the Safari Rally, in April, Martini Lancia arrived in Kenya with three Integrale 16v. Piloting the 16v #5 was Juha Kankkunen, with Juha Piironen as copilot. As ever with the Safari Rally, it was an unforgiving race. On April 11th 79 cars left Nairobi, however only 10 crossed the finish line on April 16th. A Toyota Celica GT-4 won, while 16v #5 finished in second place overall. 

16v #5
Two Safari Rally models. Of course the best is the 911 SC Safari, yet the Delta 16v #5 gets close.

Though the Integrale 16v #5 did not win in Kenya, it earned points that helped Lancia win the 1990 WRC. The Delta would win the WRC for Lancia a total of six times, consecutively from 1987 to 1992. Moreover, it also earned the drivers’ championship titles for Juha Kankkunen (1987 and 1991) and Miki Biasion (1988 and 1989). That makes Lancia the most successful manufacturer in the WRC, and the Delta the most successful car. A history like that caught my eye. And with the Delta being one of the most gorgeous hatchbacks ever, of course I needed a race version.

Adding the necessary decals is a small detail that does wonders for historic accuracy. Only Spark has this practice.

Fortunately, Ixo offers a VERY nice version of the car (the other option would be an uber-expensive HPI 😫). In scale the model looks the part – well, if you don’t mind the deadeye headlights. Honestly, if not for that, these models would be perfect. And to sweeten the deal, beneath the model plinth came the Marlboro decals to complete the livery. After all, the official name of the race was Marlboro Safari Rally. Interestingly, my Porsche 911 SC/RS #6 came with the complete Rothmans livery 🤨. Because Marlboro is more easily identified as a tobacco brand than Rothmans? Weird. Whatever the reason, the model is terrific, with a great bang for the buck.

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