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1981 Lancia Beta Montecarlo Turbo Group V

World Endurance Champion in 1980 and 1981

The first works Lancia to race at Le Mans since the Aurelia

Dallara monocoque cloaked in an elegant Pininfarina design

Abarth-developed, 460 bhp, turbocharged, 780 kg track-focused weapon

Lancia’s return to the World Endurance Championship



Lancia, Group 5 and the Beta Montecarlo Turbo

Introduced in 1975, the Beta Montecarlo was to prove to be the perfect platform for Lancia and Dallara to built this, the Beta Montecarlo Turbo which would go on to claim the World Championship for Makes in 1979 (under 2-litre class), and overall in 1980 and 1981! After eight years of absence, Lancia was back, and it was dominating.

The Beta Montecarlo Turbo was a silhouette racer, with only the centre section of the body and the engine block being shared with the road going namesake. At the front and rear, tubular subframes held the suspension, engine and gearbox. Lancia Corse called upon competition experts, Abarth, to design and develop the mechanical aspects, with Pininfarina responsible for the striking aerodynamics, with chassis guru, Gianpaolo Dallara, reworking the production car derived monocoque and suspension.

The Group V regulations balanced car performance by linking the engine displacement and minimum vehicle weight. The larger the displacement of your engine, the heavier the car had to be, this helped promote efficiency over outright brute power. The Beta Montecarlo featured a 1,425cc four-cylinder Abarth engine, which was force-fed by a massive KKK turbocharger, and an all-new 16-valve cylinder head. With this displacement (after the 1.4 equivalency factory for turbocharged engines), the Beta Montecarlo fell into the under 2-litre class, which allowed it a minimum weight of 780 kg. This package proved to be very efficient with up to nearly 500 bhp available, with less than 800 kg!

Silverstone 1978 marked the race debut of the Lancia Beta Montecarlo, being driven by Riccardo Patrese and Walter Rohrl. Lancia continued development and quickly dominated the 2-litre class, taking class victories at Pergusa and Brands Hatch, winning the 2-litre class and finishing second overall in the 1979 World Championship for Makes.

1980 saw further development, with the Beta Montecarlo dominating the field, taking victories in ten of the eleven rounds, but perhaps more impressive were the outright victories at Brands Hatch, Mugello and Watkins Glen, with all three seeing a Lancia 1-2 result! At the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1980, Carlo Facetti and Marini Finotto piloted a Beta Montecarlo Turbo to a 2-litre class victory and second overall in Group V! The Beta Montecarlo was not only fast, but also reliable.

In 1981, the Beta Montecarlo continued to dominate, with Lancia claiming victory in all six rounds of the World Endurance Championship of makes, including 2-litre class victory at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans. As seasons go, this was a demonstration of total domination, 100% class victory in the six events that counted towards the World Endurance Championship of Makes.

The Beta Montecarlo was Lancia’s return to endurance racing, victory and domination. This was the car that convinced Lancia to continue endurance racing, leading to the LC1 and later, the LC2 Group C. This was Lancias most successful endurance competition car, claiming class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, and claiming two World Sportscar Championships! And let’s not forget, it also wore the best livery thanks to sponsorship from Martini!

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