In 2019, Formula 1 cars get from 0-60 in around about two seconds. In 1986, Ford’s Group B rally car, the RS200 EVO, did it in exactly the same amount of time. These cars were dangerously fast. So of course Ken Block wants to drive one in Northern Ireland.
The RS200, and indeed Group B rallying, came about at a crazy time when engineering was bumping up against the modern era, while safety technology was still pretty much stuck in the previous century.
Although these cars had roll cages, they still had the knack for catching fire, which on a rally stage is a big problem. Moreover, whoever was in charge of hiring crowd control clearly didn’t care about their job because fans would crowd around the cars while they were running. In fact, in Portugal, the game was to try and touch these firebreathing cars while they were driving by. Remember, this is in a time when the cars rivalled Formula 1 cars for speed despite driving on gravel.
It was only too predictable, then, that the sport would end in tragedy, as a fire involving a Lancia killed a driver and his co-driver shortly before an RS200 run by an amateur ran into a crowd killing fans. As quickly as the cars could start, the sport was canceled and common sense safety measures were implemented to make rallying even passably safe.
The result, though, is that the cars are now legendary among rally fans. So, for a rally driver like Block, you can understand why driving one to dinner is so much fun. Even though he owns one of his own.