Ford’s Monte dilemma at the dawn of Group A

As the 1987 season approached, Ford's WRC drivers had a tricky choice to make for the year's first rally

Rallye Montecarlo Monte Carlo (MC) 17-22 1 1987

And then it was 1987. A month and three days after saying farewell to Ford’s rocketship RS200, Stig Blomqvist had a decision to make.

The Monte Carlo Rally was coming what did he want? Total traction or a turbo?

Yes, yes, he had enjoyed the benefit of both in 1986, but Group B was gone. The new dawn – Group A – had arrived. And the Blue Oval could offer a Sierra RS Cosworth, a blown, rear-wheel drive race car or the V6-engined four-wheel drive Sierra XR 4×4.

Blomqvist went one way while his Swedish countryman and team-mate Kalle Grundel went the other. Stig took the grip, Kalle the grunt.

And then the snow came. The 1987 Monte was one of the snowiest in years. Happy days for the man who’d won the world championship aboard an Audi three years earlier.

Rallye Montecarlo Monte Carlo (MC) 17-22 1 1987

By the end of the first loop of stages on day one (Sunday January 18) totalling just 45 miles, Grundel was already more than five minutes down on Miki Biasion’s Lancia Delta HF 4WD (the Italian would go on to win by 59 seconds from team-mate Juha Kankkunen).

Ford wasn’t the only manufacturer fielding a slightly overweight and underpowered alternative to its Group B weapon – Audi brought the 200 quattro for Walter Röhrl. The German took the podium’s bottom step, five minutes behind Biasion. Blomqvist was staring at fourth place, a similar distance again behind Röhrl.

A trying event for Ford went from bad to worse when the XR 4×4 was excluded after being found running a fuel injection system which didn’t comply. The only good news was that Blomqvist’s departure from the classification would allow an oversteering Grundel to bring the Cosworth home in the top 10.

Or it would have done if he hadn’t clattered a rock and retired with a broken driveshaft on the last stage.

The XR 4×4? Stig stuck at it through 1987, finishing sixth on his home round, leading before crashing in New Zealand and finally landing a podium on the Hong Kong-Beijing Rally. The car’s crowning glory, admittedly once Boreham had paid a bit more attention to it, came in Sweden 1988, where Blomqvist was genuinely at the races and finished second only to Markku Alén’s Delta.