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Ari Vatanen, the Peugeot 405 T16, the 1988 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and an ambitious French filmmaker. The result? Climb Dance.
By the late eighties, it was abundantly clear the only way to win on the global rally stage was to have a turbocharged car with four wheel drive. The revolution led by the might Audi Quattro changed the sport of rallying for ever. However, it was Peugeot which took the concept and ran with it during the notorious Group B era.
In 1986, Group B was banned after a series of fatal accidents. The FIA restricted power outputs on all teams. The power race of the World RAlly Championship was over. However, one global rally event remained where there was no limit on power, and it was outside the sphere of the World Rally Championship. The infamous Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado.
Pikes Peak was the ultimate hill climb event, and if you set the fastest time on the Race to the Clouds, you would be part of American Motorsport legend.
Audi triumphed with a hat trick of victories in 1985 with Michele Mouton, 1986 with Bobby Unser, and 1987 with Walter Rohrl. All of them drove heavily boosted versions of the Audi Sport Quattro seen in Group B rallying.
The big wigs at Peugeot saw the success of their German rival and sent a specially prepared Peugeot 405 T16 with 600hp and four wheel steering. The Driver? The greatest ‘Flying Finn’ rally driver of the day, Ari Vatanen.
Vatanen was a WRC veteran. Winner of countless WRC events, and the notorious Paris-Dakar Rally four times. He drove for Peugeot during Group B from 1984, and even survived a horrific accident in the 1985 Argentine Rally. His Peugeot 205 T16 somersaulted at 120mph, throwing him around inside the car.
Ari Vatanen decimated the Pikes Peak record, crossing the finish at the top with a record time of 10m 47sec . His record breaking run was also captured on film thanks to French Film Director Jean Louis Mourey.
Thanks to YouTube, petrolheads everywhere can watch the natural talent of the Flying Finn, as he blasts that famous hill.
You are gonna love this one!
By Ben Selby