1983 Lancia LC2 Group C
- Works Lancia Martini Racing entrant in the 1983 & 1984 FIA World Sportscar Championship
- Works Lancia Martini racing entrant in the 1983 Le Mans 24 Hours
- Driven by four-times Le Mans 24 Hours winner, Henri Pescarolo, Formula One Grand Prix winner, Alessandro Nannini and four-time Daytona 24 Hours winner, Bob Wollek
- Double podium finisher and 1984 Kyalami 1000 km pole-sitter
- Powered by a purpose-built Ferrari V8 engine with twin KKK turbochargers and capable of over 800 bhp
Lancia, Group C and the LC2
The LC2 was Lancia’s official factory-backed effort in the FIA World Sportscar Championship from 1983 to 1986. Over the course of four seasons, the LC2 would claim eleven fastest laps, thirteen pole positions and three outright victories in the highest level of sportscar racing. Frighteningly fast, and powered by a Ferrari V8, this truly was Italy’s weapon in Group C.
For 1982, the FIA introduced new regulations for sports prototypes, known as Group C. These regulations would produce some of the fastest and most iconic sportscars ever seen. This was an era that would never be repeated again.
These new regulations required a closed-cockpit coupe design, immediately side lining the LC1 which was Lancia’s current entry in the World Sportscar Championship under the older, Group 6 regulations. The new Group C regulations also required entries to meet a fuel economy standard mandated at 100 kilometre for every 60 litres of fuel. In 1981/82 Lancia did not have an engine suitable for this competition. However, Lancia were owned by the FIAT Group who called upon the assistance of fellow FIAT company, Ferrari.
Ferrari allowed Lancia and Abarth to adapt the newly introduced, naturally aspirated, 3.0 litre, 32-valve, V8 engine. This engine had initially debuted in the Ferrari 308 GTBi QV, but in this naturally aspirated form would not generate enough power to be competitive. Lancia reduced the volumetric capacity of the engine to 2.6 litres but added two KKK K26 turbochargers to create enough power to be competitive, but also meet the required fuel efficiency.
Ensuring the car would be as competitive as possible from the outset, Lancia called upon the experience of their in-house racing team Abarth, but also Italian competition car masterminds, Dallara Automobili. Not only was the LC2 designed by Gian Paolo Dallara and his team of competition car chassis specialists, but his company was also responsible for the manufacture of the aluminium monocoque and Kevlar and carbon fibre bodywork. The bodywork features various scoops, all purposefully directing air-flow towards the intercoolers, front brakes, rear brakes and water radiator. On the underside, the flat floor led to two huge diffusers which exited between the rear wheels and gearbox casing below the large aluminium rear wing.
Over the course of its competition life, the LC2 went through continued development, leading to revised aerodynamics and an enlargement of the Ferrari V8 engine to 3.0 litre. Improved Magneti Marelli engine electronics allowed the larger more powerful 3.0 litre Ferrari V8 to consume the same fuel as the smaller 2.7 litre design.
In total, Lancia commissioned only seven LC2’s to be manufactured, with six being finished in the famous factory colours of the Lancia Martini Racing team. Today these cars are highly sought after and would go on to become Italy’s only entry in the Group C era of endurance racing. Making these Group C cars even more special is the powerplant, the only Ferrari-powered Group C cars, and it was these engines which made the LC2 fearsomely fast in a straight line.
The Ferrari-powered Lancia LC2 offered here, chassis 0001 is the very first example built by Dallara, Abarth and Lancia. This car made is appearance at the Lancia Martini Racing press conference held at the Martini Museum in Pessione, Turin in February 1983. At this event Lancia unveiled this, its latest and greatest sportscar alongside its soon-to-be World Rally Championship-winning Rally 037, the out-going LC1 and its Formula 1 Powerboat to be piloted by defending champion Renato Molinari.
Autodromo di Monza hosted round one of the 1983 FIA World Sportscar Championship, with this LC2 being driven in practise by Piercarlo Ghinzani wearing race number 5.
The next outing for chassis 0001 was the 1983 Le Mans 24 Hours. Wearing race number 6, this LC2 was driven by Alessanro Nannini, Jean-Claude Andruet and Paulo Barilla. Nannini was a Formula One regular, driving for the Italian Minardi team alongside Barilla, with Andruet having previously won the Monte Carlo, Tour de Corse and San Remo World Rallies. Lancia had now switched from radial Pirelli tyres, to the newer and more durable cross-ply Dunlop tyres. However, just prior to the Le Mans 24 Hours race, Dunlop advised the rear tyres required more camber angle, Lancia obliged but the result was the tyre sidewall was now proud of the bodywork. The ACO scrutineers insisted that Lancia add wheel-arch extensions above the rear wheels to cover the tyres.
The 1983 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 51st Grand Prix of Endurance and took place on 18th and 19th June, also being the fourth round of the World Endurance Championship. LC2-0001 was chosen to be fitted with a 16kh live TV camera by the Eurovision broadcaster. With this in mind, Lancia Martini Racing chose to qualify this car with its race engine.
Qualifying saw this Martini-sponsored LC2 conduct a fuel consumption test, which was miscalculated, and the car was stranded at Mulsanne corner. This led to a significant loss of track time, which resulted in this car lining up 13th on the grid. The sister LC2’s qualified 2nd and 4th overall, perhaps confirming rumours of Lancia being able to increase power to over 800 bhp in qualifying! The race was tough, and this car was hampered by ignition issues which required a new spark box and spark plugs to be fitted, along with turbo manifold failure. Despite the crew working hard to repair the turbos for more than three hours, this LC2 retired in the early hours of Sunday morning having covered 135 laps.
Lancia Martini Racing continued to develop the LC2 in preparation of the 1984 season, with this car being fitted with the enlarged 3.0 litre, more powerful and more durable Ferrari 308C engine. This car was also fitted with a new Abarth-modified Hewland transmission, with the suspension also being developed specifically for the latest Dunlop tyres. Brakes were also lightened, and the bodywork enhanced after careful aerodynamic studies.
This LC2 was chosen by Lancia Martin Racing for the penultimate round of the 1984 FIA World Endurance Championship, the Kyalami 1000 kilometres in South Africa in Early November. Amazingly the FIA scrutineering sticker from this event is still attached to the cockpit of LC2 0001! For Kyalami, the LC2’s had been fitted with further developed electronics system and enlarged brakes. This LC2, wearing race number 5 was assigned to four-time Daytona 24 Hours winner and European Champion, Bob Wollek and promising Italian Formula One driver, Paolo Barilla.
Wearing race number 5, LC2-0001 qualified on pole position with an average speed in excess of 202 km/h and nearly a second clear of the sister LC2 and almost three second clear of the third place Porsche 956. This was proof that the continued development and upgrades from Lancia Martini Racing were working.
The race saw 31 cars line up behind LC2-0001 for 244 laps of the 4.104 km Kyalami circuit in ideal warm dry conditions. Al 11:30 am the race started and the two works Lancia Martini Racing LC2’s disappeared into a commanding lead and took only nine laps to lap the entire field! The race passed without major issue with team manager Cesare Fiorio instructing the two LC2’s to cross the finish line side by side, with LC2-0001 finishing second overall, a very impressive display of total dominance by the Italian team.
In preparation for the 1985 All Japan Endurance Series, the official importer for Lancia and Maserati, Garage Italya Co Ltd purchased this car directly from the Lancia factory. With the aim of competing and winning the 1985 All Japan Endurance Series, Garage Italya also contracted sportscar legend and four-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, Henri Pescarolo alongside Alessandro Nannini.
The first race in Japan for LC2-0001 was the 1000 km of Fuji in early May 1985 where it continued its traditionally strong qualifying performance, lining up third on the grid. The race was underway, although this LC2 was hampered by an issue during a refuelling stop which led to a retirement. At the end of July, LC2-0001 returned to Fuji for round three of the All Japan Endurance Series where Nannini shared driving duties with Australian, Lucio Cesario. Once more, qualifying was an impressive affair, with this car setting the second fastest time, with gearbox issues leading to a retirement in the race. The final appearance in Japan was at the 1985 Fuji 1000 kms in October where it was driven again by Pescarolo, wearing race number 47, although the car did not start the race due to very poor weather. The race was eventually stopped after only 62 of the scheduled 226 laps.
This marked the end of LC2-0001’s racing career, with Garage Italya selling it to famed Japanese collector, Yoshijuki Hayashi, who prominently displayed this Ferrari-powered Group C race car in his personal museum. The car remained within the Hayashi Collection until it was bought by Manfredo Lippman in 1996. The car was shipped to America, where it was later displayed in the Blackhawk Museum in California for many years.
Having remained with Lipmann for twenty years, this LC2 was bought by a French racing driver in 2016 before joining The Campion Collection in 2017. Upon arrival in America, this LC2 was delivered to Andy Greene Sports and Vintage Race Cars for mechanical inspection and overhaul of the various required systems. Over $50,000 USD was spent on mechanically restoring the car with BBS also supply new wheels.
During its time in The Campion Collection, the engine has been removed and fully serviced with new cam belt tensioners and timing belts. The suspension and brakes have been rebuilt with new seals and new master cylinders and fluid reservoirs. Cosmetically the car was in very good original condition, but small amounts of bodywork were restored, and the car given a thorough inspection before returning to the track.
The seven Lancia Martini Racing LC2’s evoke memories of the golden era where three of Italy’s automotive powerhouses combined to create one of the fastest Group C cars. The LC2 is the only Group C car powered by a purpose-built Ferrari engine which proved to be extremely fast when mounted to the Dallara monocoque and raced by the works Lancia Martini Racing Team. The opportunity to obtain any LC2 is very rare, with this example even more irresistible by being one of only five factory-entered cars to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In its FIA World Sportscar Championship career, this car scored two podium finishes and a dominant pole position.
Today, the LC2 can be raced in the Peter Auto Group C Championship, but the real question - Are you ready to return this LC2 to the Le Mans circuit where it last raced in 1983?
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