In the 1980s rallying was more popular than Formula 1.
Group B machines had taken the world by storm. They were the most exciting cars ever to hit the motorsport scene. Nothing like it has ever happened since.
For four wild and crazy years manufacturers scrambled to build ever more powerful cars to be driven by fearless mavericks who could handle the extreme power. The sport was heading out of control and the unregulated mayhem ended abruptly in 1986 after a series of horrific tragedies.
This is the story of when fans, ambition, politics and cars collided.
Featuring World Champions Ari Vatanen, Walter Rohrl, Stig Blomqvist, plus Michel Mouton, Cesar Fiorio, Jean Todt and many many more.
The Bigger Picture team spent 6 months making this new motorsport film, focused on the Group B rally years, when rallying became more popular than Grand Prix, cars were heading for 1000 horse power and things were getting out of control, to say the least.
John Matthews and Rich Heap, who have been making films together since 2006, travelled 5,800 miles to make the new film.
‘We have been working in Portuguese, Italian, German, French and of course English. And none of us speak Portuguese, Italian or German so to say this has been a challenge is an understatement’ said John.
‘Making films like this is hard anyway – the language issue makes it even more difficult. I think it’s our best film by a mile – we are getting better at this type of film now and incredibly we have had very few serious problems during the massive production.’ Rich added, ‘apart from being 2 hours late to interview Michel Mouton when we did not re-set our clocks on the ferry to France!’
‘Oh yes, I forgot about that,’ joked John.
What sets the new film apart from Rich and John's previous films is that Group B was meant to be a celebration, but as ever when you de-regulate things involving men, it eventually goes out of control. That is what Madness on Wheels is about.
‘The most moving part of our trip was visiting Cesar Fiorio in Sardinia and going to where the Corsican rally where Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto were tragically killed. This is was what the story was about for me – how this can happen in a sport. Unfortunately the main part of this scene had to be cut so we have put it on the DVD as an exclusive extra.’
Rich added: ‘We put so much into these films. John and I have travelled together over 15,000 miles in the last few years just for the interviews. It is a major dedication on our part and it takes its strain at home. At the end of the production we are all totally knackered. I don’t think anyone realises how much it takes to make this stuff – all that work for one hour – but hopefully you appreciate that it’s a good film – I guess the rest does not matter.’
As with previous films the makers have tried to get under the skin of the sport and find out the truth of what actually happened. Ari Vatanen was extremely candid, as was Walter Rohrl and his co-driver Christian Geistdorfer.
"The fans were crazy. As the cars sped by, they ran into the road!" Ari Vatanen
"To go rallying is madness. This was refined madness'' John Davenport
"The time when rallying was completely, utterly, awesomely mental" Top Gear
"Brilliant. Essential viewing" Chris Knapman, Daily Telegraph
Pick of the Day in The Times and Daily Mail
Recommended by Daily Telegraph, Motorsport