Before the French rule of the World Rally Championship came through the 21st century, Lancia long stood as the benchmark in terms of domineering statistics.
Despite its last victory coming in 1992, the marque still sits third in the all-time winners’ list with over 70 world rally wins – although Toyota is rapidly closing in on that benchmark with its modern WRC program.
And no other manufacturer has come anywhere close to challenging Lancia in terms of manufacturers’ titles. Lancia has won 11 over the years, three more than Citroën and six more than Peugeot.
Some absolute legends of the discipline have driven for Lancia over the years, whether that was behind the wheel of a Stratos, 037, Delta S4 or Integrale. But which pilot has won the most rallies for the iconic Italian brand?
You’re in the right place to find out. DirtFish has scoured the archives and has delivered Lancia’s top World Rally Championship winners.
And once you’ve finished enjoying this article, why not check out equivalent lists for other manufacturers like Ford, Citroën, Peugeot, Subaru and Toyota?
10= Jean-Claude Andruet
First/last win: Tour de Corse 1974
No. of wins:1
Cars: Stratos HF, 037 Rally
Jean-Claude Andruet (pictured above) – the very first winner in the WRC – was also Lancia’s first ever winner in the WRC, threading his Stratos to victory in Corsica ahead of a gaggle of Alpine A110s back in 1974.
The A110 was the recognized package to beat when the WRC was formed in ’73 and Andruet once drove one, but the Stratos would soon muscle it out of the way. Andruet was the first to show just what this little Ferrari V6-powered wedge of a car could do.
The Frenchman would move away from Lancia to drive Fiats and Ferraris soon after the early ’70s though, but would return in 1983 and ’84 to drive an 037 on two rallies each season. His best finish was sixth, again in Corsica.
10= Antonio Fassina
First/last win: Rally Sanremo 1979
No. of wins: 1
Car: Stratos HF
Antonio Fassina has an impressive strike-rate when it comes to WRC success: he’s won 20% of the rallies he’s started and 50% of the events he tackled in a Lancia. He only ever competed on his home round – Sanremo – five times, and just twice in a Stratos HF. But in 1979, he came out smelling of roses.
Fassina, often nicknamed ‘Tony’, led the Jolly Club charge on that event, seeded just behind Markku Alén’s Fiat 131 Abarth. The Fiats would indeed prove Tony’s biggest challenge, even if it wasn’t Alén’s but Walter Röhrl’s, but they weren’t quick enough to stop him as he recorded a four-minute victory over Röhrl.
10= Franz Wittmann Sr.
First/last win: Rally New Zealand 1987
No. of wins: 1
Cars: Delta HF 4WD, Delta Integrale
If you’re a pub quiz player, Franz Wittmann Sr is a good name to have stored in your back pocket for that extremely rare chance a rallying question crops up and you’re tasked with finding a one-time rally winner.
But unlike some other drivers to have claimed a sole win at the top level, Wittmann Sr was actually a semi-regular in the championship right from its inception in 1973. The Austrian was regularly found driving German-made machines – BMWs, Opels, Audis and Volkswagens – but was found strapped into a Delta HF 4WD for four rounds from 1987-89.
His previous best finish had been a third place on Rally Portugal 1982, but on his first rally in a Lancia, Wittmann Sr went two better and won in New Zealand. While competition down under was weaker than it might have been in Europe, Wittman Sr still fended off the challenge from established Swedes Stig Blomqvist and Kenneth Eriksson to win the rally by 47s.
10= Bruno Saby
First/last win: Monte Carlo Rally 1988
No. of wins: 1
Cars: Delta HF 4WD, Delta Integrale
Once the Group B ruleset was banned for the 1987 season onwards, Bruno Saby’s previous employer Peugeot pulled the plug on its WRC commitment and Saby found refuge at his old rival Lancia.
He was one of several drivers on the Italian giant’s books as Group A began, and Saby was utilized on the asphalt events – the Monte, Corsica and Sanremo. The strategy paid off in 1988 when Saby absolutely dominated the Monte, beating Jolly Club Lancia driver Alessandro Fiorio by close to 11 minutes.
Saby would remain with Lancia until the end of 1991, grabbing three further podiums for the outfit before scaling back his rallying.
10= Jorge Recalde
First/last win: Rally Argentina 1988
No. of wins: 1
Cars: Delta HF 4WD, Delta Integrale
One of Lancia’s more famous victors despite only tasting the one success, Jorge Recalde became – and remains – Argentina’s sole World Rally Championship winner in 1988 when he won his home event in Lancia’s Delta Integrale.
It had been a long time coming. Recalde had finished third twice and second in 1987 in Argentina, but in ’88 it all came together for him to take an immensely popular victory.
Recalde didn’t have it easy though, battling hard with eventual world champion Miki Biasion throughout the early phases before Biasion was slowed by an electrical fault. That released Recalde who kept his cool, was spared the heartache of team orders and won the rally by over three minutes. Wittmann ensured a Lancia 1-2-3.
While Recalde would start umpteen future WRC rallies with Lancia until the marque pulled out of the WRC at the end of ’93, that Argentinian success will always be the peak for which he’s remembered for.
10= Mikael Ericsson
First/last win: Rally Argentina 1989
No. of wins: 1
Cars: Delta S4, Delta HF 4WD, Delta Integrale
Mikael Ericsson was the driver brought in to fill Henri Toivonen’s massive void part-way through the 1986 season – aided by a strong fourth in Sweden that year in a less-fancied Audi 90 Quattro.
It wasn’t until Group B was scrapped and Group A was introduced that Ericsson hit his stride though. A frustrating run of second place finishes in 1987 and ’88 hinted the promise was there, and finally it came together on Rally Argentina in 1989.
Ironically Ericsson would win his very next WRC start in Finland, but that was driving a Mitsubishi Galant VR-4. It meant his final ever drive in a Lancia ended in perfect fashion – with a win – as he then went on to become part of Toyota’s rising force.
9 Henri Toivonen
First win: Rally GB 1985
Last win: Monte Carlo Rally 1986
No. of wins: 2
Cars: 037 Rally, Delta S4
How many of you were expecting Henri Toivonen’s name to be far higher on this list? Be honest…
If it were a case of ranking the biggest characters and legends to have driven for Lancia, placing Toivonen at #9 would be a travesty. But the statistics don’t lie, and Toivonen only ever won two rallies for Lancia – although it should and would have been a whole lot more had Corsica 1986 not happened.
Lancia picked up Toivonen from Opel for 1984, but the rear-wheel-drive 037 was never the ideal tool to fight for victories up against the all-wheel-drive Audi Quattro and Peugeot 205. But as soon as Toivonen got his hands on the turbocharged and supercharged Delta S4, it was a completely different story.
Toivonen delivered the car a victory on debut on what was then the RAC Rally at the end of 1985, and he went two from two on the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally in ’86. It looked for all the world that Toivonen and the Delta S4 were the favorites for the 1986 title but sadly we’ll never know if it was possible as he famously left the road in Corsica and lost his life.
7= Björn Waldegård
First win: Rally Sweden 1975
Last win: Rally Sanremo 1976
No. of wins: 3
Cars: Stratos HF, Delta Integrale
Björn Waldegård is remembered for many things, chiefly becoming the very first World Rally Champion in 1979 and for being an absolute legend in Africa. But for those of a certain age, his exploits in a Lancia Stratos are what stick out.
Waldegård had never won a world championship rally when he first stepped into the Stratos, but the first time he entered one on an event that all changed as he conquered his home event in Sweden.
Despite a switch to a Fiat and Toyota in between that and his next victory, Waldegård did win again with Lancia in 1975 – this time in Sanremo. He repeated that success the following year to deliver the brand two victories at home.
Waldegård’s final WRC appearance in 1992 was also in a Lancia, albeit a one-off drive. But that ended sourly, with a rather spectacular and intense fire burning his Delta Integrale to the ground.
7= Walter Röhrl
First win: Monte Carlo Rally 1983
Last win: Rally New Zealand 1983
No. of wins: 3
Car: 037 Rally
Lancia has welcomed many legends into its team, but arguably no driver had quite the impact that Walter Röhrl did when he joined as the reigning and double world champion in 1983.
Snubbed by Audi for a drive in one of its domineering Quattros, Röhrl made it his mission to wipe the smile from his compatriots’ faces. Another drivers’ crown was off the table as Röhrl refused to compete on certain events like Finland, but he was able to aid Lancia to a manufacturers’ crown.
And that’s what he did – taking second in the drivers’ standings too despite his slimmer program. Röhrl won on his Lancia debut on the Monte and across the six rallies he started in the 037 across 1983, he was never off the podium.
Two more victories followed on the Acropolis and New Zealand before Röhrl joined the enemy – Audi – in 1984.
6 Bernard Darniche
First win: Tour de Corse 1975
Last win: Tour de Corse 1981
No. of wins: 4
Car: Stratos HF
Bernard Darniche was one of the WRC’s early stars and winners, competing in the very first season in 1973 with Alpine before joining Fiat and then Lancia where his career would really kick off.
The 1975 Tour de Corse marked his first start in Lancia colors and it was a winning one, kickstarting a remarkable trend of victories. Darniche would claim three on his local WRC round in a Lancia, next in 1979 and then finally in 1981 – arguably the most impressive given the age of the Stratos compared to the rest of the machinery competing at the sharp end.
Darniche’s other Lancia WRC victory was also near French soil on the 1979 Monte – the very first event to award drivers points in the world championship.
5 Sandro Munari
First win: Rally Sanremo 1974
Last win: Monte Carlo Rally 1977
No. of wins: 7
Cars: Fulvia, Stratos HF
If there was one driver that really put the Stratos on the map and will forever be affiliated with that glorious machine, it was Sandro Munari. The Italian won seven rallies in the Stratos as well as the 1977 Cup for Rally Drivers, the forerunner to the World Rally Championship drivers’ crown.
Munari had the knack for getting the absolute most out of the unconventional Stratos, and took it to world glory on all surfaces. The first win came in 1974 on the Italian mixed-surface tracks of Sanremo before another victory that season, next time out in Canada.
Across 1975-77, Munari and the Stratos proved to be an unbeatable combination on the Monte – chalking up three wins – while Munari also scooped success in Portugal and Corsica in 1976.
Munari would migrate to rival Fiat in 1978 but without anywhere close to the success he achieved with Lancia, recording a best result of sixth.
4 Juha Kankkunen
First win: Olympus Rally 1987
Last win: Rally Portugal 1992
No. of wins: 9
Car: Delta HF 4WD, Delta Integrale
For all of Lancia’s manufacturers’ success, it only ever won four drivers’ titles with two drivers and Juha Kankkunen was both the first driver to do it and the first to appear on this list.
Like Saby, Kankkunen joined Lancia from Peugeot in 1987 when the Group B abruptly ended – fresh from claiming his first drivers’ title. He duly doubled up despite his new home and change of scenery, edging out team-mate and ’86 rival Markku Alén.
Kankkunen won twice in his debut season – in the US and UK – before moving to Toyota for two seasons. He would return to Lancia in 1990 and won Rally Australia, but his finest season was undoubtedly 1991 where he claimed his third title and second with Lancia.
Across the year Kankkunen won five times – on the Safari, Acropolis, Rally Finland, Australia and GB – before stringing together another strong but ultimately unsuccessful campaign in ’92 which featured a further win in Portugal.
Kankkunen then moved back to Toyota again before spells at Ford, Subaru and Hyundai that concluded his career. Lancia was ultimately his most successful destination however as he took nine wins (equal with his Toyota record) but two titles. He won once with Peugeot and Toyota respectively.
3 Didier Auriol
First win: Tour de Corse 1989
Last win: Rally Australia 1992
No. of wins: 10
Car: Delta Integrale
Bursting onto the world rally scene with some superb drives in a Ford Sierra Cosworth, Didier Auriol was snapped up by Lancia for 1989 and it was a decision the manufacturer wouldn’t regret.
Auriol was a winner in his first season – in Corsica – and quickly garnered a reputation as the man to beat on a sealed surface. His hat-trick of successes on the Monte, Tour de Corse and Sanremo in 1990 and a second Sanremo success in ’91 proved that.
The Frenchman was a key to Lancia’s six-year domination of the manufacturers’ championship from 1987-92, but he almost won a title for himself in the latter of those years with a sublime run of form at the start of the season.
Auriol won in Monaco, Corsica, Greece, Argentina, Finland and Australia to go on an unprecedented run of six victories from the first seven events. He looked to be a nailed-on champion before his season simply fell apart and Carlos Sainz cruelly stole the prize from Auriol on the final round.
He would move to Toyota along with Kankkunen in ’93 and would become a world champion in 1994. And that run of six wins in a season was a record that stood for 14 years until Sébastien Loeb bettered it in 2005.
2 Markku Alén
First win: Rally Sanremo 1978
Last win: Rally GB 1988
No. of wins: 11
Cars: Stratos HF, 037 Rally, Delta S4, Delta HF 4WD, Delta Integrale
Markku Alén was, in a sense, Mr Lancia. Although he started out his world rallying career driving for its rival Fiat, he was a spearhead throughout the entire Group B and into Group A – and was even a world champion with the team for 11 days following an inquest that went against him and anulled a Peugeot exclusion.
Alén had the pleasure of driving several Lancias throughout his career, starting with the famed Stratos which he steered to victory in Sanremo, 1978 on his first ever drive with the car.
That proved to be something of a one-off at the time before Alén made his Lancia switch permanent in 1982, clambering into the 037. It took a small while for him to claim another Lancia win given the car’s rear-wheel-drive handicap, but on asphalt that disadvantage was nullified and Alén won both the 1983 Tour de Corse and Sanremo events and the Tour de Corse in 1984 too.
The switch to Delta S4 dramatically improved Lancia’s fortunes in late ’85 and Alén would be a regular podium visitor, winning twice in Sanremo (even though it doesn’t count in the history books due to the aforementioned inquest that overturned a Peugeot exclusion) and then on the Olympus Rally.
Alén won thrice in both ’87 and ’88 when the Group A Delta was introduced but would miss out on the title to his team-mates, Kankkunen and Miki Biasion, on both occasions.
1 Miki Biasion
First win: Rally Argentina 1986
Last win: Rally Argentina 1990
No. of wins: 16
Cars: 037 Rally, Delta S4, Delta HF 4WD, Delta Integrale
Although it’s never an accolade drivers will aim for in their competition careers, Miki Biasion has the honor of being Lancia’s most prolific rally winner in the history of the WRC. Of his 17 rally wins, 16 of them were behind the wheel of a Lancia.
Biasion joined the team in 1984 after a one-off appearance in Sanremo the previous year. His results and fortunes were a touch topsy-turvy, but he would net his very first WRC victory on his final start in a Group B car: Argentina 1986.
However, as soon as Group B was scrapped and Group A ruled the roost, Biasion was practically untouchable. He won thrice in ’87 before taking an impressive five wins from seven starts in ’88 to net his very first drivers’ title. This was when Lancia would regularly rotate its line-up across the season, meaning drivers Biasion, Kankkunen and Alén would be fighting for the title without often fighting each other on rallies.
Biasion doubled up in 1989 with his second world title, grabbing another five victories – this time from six starts – to truly cement himself as one of rallying’s greats. He’d win another couple of rallies in 1990 before leaving the marque for Ford in 1992.
Few drivers enjoy such synergy with a team and car, but Miki Biasion and the Lancia Delta Integrale were a match made in heaven.