The Rally Beast by Daniele Audetto

Few Sports cars have left such a significant and durable impression as the Lancia Stratos.

Born from the ingenuity of Nuccio Bertone and the intuition of Cesar Fiorio, the Stratos is the combination of a revolutionary design and an overwhelming soul from its Ferrari engine.

Talented men of the likes of Mike Parkes, Gian Paolo Dallara and Sandro Munari allowed the Stratos to dominate a long period of motorsport, especially in rallies!

It was an incredible spectacle to see the Stratos excel on the snowy roads of the Monte Carlo, the Swedish rallies, the forest roads of the English RAC and Canadian rally, the Kenyan Savannah, the dirt tracks of San Remo and Acropolis and finally the twisty Corsican roads.

Following laborious testing in Corsica and at the request of our sponsors, we entered the Stratos with Munari in the 1972 Tour de Corse. the team was managed by Gian Paolo Dallara with precious help from Pirelli. Unfortunately, however the outing was cut short as we had anticipated. The second outing was in Spain at the Costa del Sol, followed by Lyon-Charbonnières. In each case, however, we suffered issues with the rear uprights which were too weak and were deformed by the power generated by the Ferrari engine.

Once the problem was rectified with the use of cast uprights, the Stratos legend began. First in Spain at the Firestone rally of the European championship, then the first big victory in the Tour de France Auto in 1973 with Munari, followed by another victory at the Monte Carlo in 1974 and many more to come – leading the car to be crowned with the world championship in 74, 75 and 76.

Following these successful years, the commercial interests of the FIAT group shifted the focus to the FIAT 131, relegating the Stratos to sporadic appearances. It remained competitive however as demonstrated by its successes on the Targa Florio with Ballestrieri-Larrousse, the Giro d’Italia with Facetti- Sodano and then with Alen -Pianta-Kivimaki.

The history of the Stratos, or more appropriately, the story of the Stratos, is inextricably tied to the men behind it – the ‘authors – starting from the master Cesare Fiorio, the technicians Mike Parkes, Ginapaolo Dallara, Nicola Materazzi and Giann Tonti. Also, my close collaborator Niki Bianchi, our ‘Muse’ Francesca Fiorio, our great drivers; the Dragon Sandro Munari, Amilcare Ballestieri , Jean- Claude Andruet , Waldegaard , Alen , Pregliasco , Darniche , Lampinen , Larrousse , Bettega , Carello , Tony , Facetti , Pinto et Vudafieri ; aux co-équipers Mannucci , Maiga , Sodano , Bernacchini , Biche , Mahé , Garzoglio , Thorszelius , Mannini et Kivimaki, our talented Lancia Corse mechanics and the many others who helped improve the ‘Rally Beast’; the immense, beautiful and legendary Stratos to whom I address my thoughts, my thanks and gratitude for having shared with me one of the most

  • beautiful chapters of my sporting life.

  • Niki Bianchi : The Fulvia leaves way for the Stratos

    October 1972: Lancia Stratos prize giving ceremony

    On the top floor of the Lancia building, Cesare Fiorio had an interview with Niki Bianchi who was well acquainted with the inherent issues associated with racing, and asked him to start a Lancia customer racing department.

    From this the customer racing department was created. The aim was to organise and establish an optimized car servicing department forrallying and give technical advice anywhere and at any time whilst reducing the inherent bureaucratic issues associated with racing.

    Two teams; the Jolly Club from Milan, managed by Roberto Angiolini and the Gifrone team from Genova, managed by Luigi Tabaton, had cars and drivers competing in national and regional championships - often alongside the Lancia works team.

    Having observed this, I suggested to my boss Cesar Fiorio, that we enrol only these two teams which had to date been limited tothe more minor championships and share our technical knowledge in order to make them as competitive as the official cars. We also offered them young promising racing drivers in order to create a talent pool for the works team.

    The benefit was a lightened schedule for the racing department in their preparation for the World and European Championship and others which were important for the Lancia Market.

    The Start of the program

    In 1973 most of customers were still racing with the Fulvia. The works cars were transferred to Jolly Club, Grifone and Tre Gazzelle for customer racing. It was obviously necessary for our cars to be maintained by qualified mechanics; we therefore designated a small number of car preparers who had previously demonstrated their potential to Lancia.

    Bosato, Facetti, Maglioli, Michelotto and University Motors were therefore brought up to speed with all od the developments and equipped with official spare parts.

    We succeeded in our objective of beating the Renault Alpine on the various national championships thanks to the strong relationship built between teams, car preparers and the drivers.

    Based upon this success I created a permanent rally car-servicing department in order to ensure that at any point, anywhere, there was a Lancia answer, often vital to the successful completion of the rally - as expected by the drivers, teams and myself.

    The arrival of the Stratos for the teams and the large number of clients inevitably pushed us to improve on the organisational front of the car-servicing department. For the Fulvia, the distribution of spare parts was only undertaken through the network of car dealerships. This led to two problems:

    1) It was impractical for the dealers to stock spare parts for which there was little demand.
    2) The warehousemen lacked knowledge - especially with regard to the minor parts.

    As a result of these issues, Cesare and I decided to establish a warehouse of spare parts reserved solely for racing clients. This was directly linked to the competition department of Lancia and under the responsibility of Mr. Matera - an outstanding manager.

    Another important decision was to equip a servicing van with spare parts and two mechanics. This support was present on all the important championship rounds, which greatly strengthened relationships with the car preparers. The system developed with great mutual satisfaction, vindicating the decision to implement an ‘open door’ policy and, allowing the car preparers to come to Lancia’s racing department whenever they wished and have nothing hidden from them. The result arrived quickly with a number of privately run cars Stratos were even more competitive than the official cars. The Lancia works team also benefitted from technical innovations initiated by the car preparers.

    In 1976 Daniele Audetto left to the Scuderia Ferrari and I assumed his position as sporting director of Lancia’s racing division, whilst Giulio Pensi replaced me as director of customer racing.

    The queen of rallies continued to win everything

    Long live the King and Queen! (*)
    (*) Team Lancia and Lancia Stratos