Béguin and Bimmer led from the start and were only foiled by a hailstorm on the fifth stage that left the road to a particular Corsican col covered in ice. Naturally, this worked in Lancia’s favour and local driver Yves Loubet eased his way past the rasping M3. A handful of dry stages later and Béguin was back to the front. And this time there was no stopping him.
“None of us knew what to expect from this rally,” says Lapworth. “Since the start of 1987, this was the first time this bunch of cars had come together. We knew our car was quick, but we also knew the Sierras would be very fast. They had more power and, as we saw later that year on French Championship roads, on the wider, more flowing roads, they were really difficult to beat.”
But 30 years ago in Corsica, there was nothing to beat Béguin’s M3. “It was the perfect car for that time and that event,” says Lapworth. “It was a rally car with the DNA of a touring car. It had a high-revving, naturally-aspirated engine with good power [reckoned to be close to 300bhp] and it was rear-wheel-drive and lightweight. It was like a go-kart. What more could you ask for?”
Béguin asked for no more and duly delivered an historic win, a win that Lapworth insists shouldn’t be underestimated in terms of Prodrive’s development.
“People always look at Subaru as the beginning for the company in the WRC,” he says, “and, of course, Subaru was a huge part of the success. But the foundations for what we did with Subaru were all laid with that BMW. As much as any of the presentations we made or any of the meetings we had, when Subaru officials came and saw the M3 in action on a WRC round, I think that was what helped convince them Prodrive was the way forward.”
Tour de Corse, 1987
1 Bernard Béguin (F)/Jean-Jacques Lenne (F) – BMW M3, 7h22m30s
2 Yves Loubet (F)/Jean-Bernard Vieu (F) – Lancia Delta HF 4WD, +2m08s
3 Massimo Biasion (I)/Tiziano Siviero (I) – Lancia Delta HF 4WD, +2m28s
4 Jean Ragnotti (F)/Pierre Thimonier (F) – Renault 11 Turbo, +2m41s
5 François Chatriot (F)/Michel Perin (F) – Renault 11 Turbo, +4m35s
6 Marc Duez (B)/Georges Biar (B) – BMW M3, +15m28s
Photographs courtesy of LAT Images