High engine power and low body weight: that was the secret of a car that seemed to fly around the circuits.
Between the late 1979s and the early 1980s, Lancia inscribed a new chapter among its extraordinary racing achievements by entering the World Endurance Championships.
In the first races, the brand used its Lancia Beta Montecarlo Turbo, a superb car both in terms of aerodynamics and aesthetics. This notched up major successes and won the Constructors Title in the two litre division in the 1979 Brand Championships. In the following two editions of this Championships, in 1980 and 1981, the Montecarlo Turbo continued to dominate in its division and also won the all-round World Championships.
In 1982 a change of regulations imposed by the FIA – which led to the creation of the new Group C division – persuaded Lancia to launch a project for a new sports car to compete in the Endurance championship. This led to creation of the LC1, an open-top racing prototype, fitted with the Montecarlo Turbo engine. Only 4 models were built, competing in the unforgettable Martini Racing livery. The LC1 - where the C indicates the first Lancia built for Group C - conquered three pole positions out of eight races held in the season and managed to keep up with the Porsche 956 team, which had over 200 HP more power.
Specifically in order to bridge this power gap, Lancia then collaborated with Ferrari on a new project. And so 1983 saw the birth of the Lancia LC2, a car with smooth sinuous lines. Unlike the LC1, it had a closed roof. The two-seater berlinetta was fitted with an 8-cylinder 2.6-litre 90° V-cylinder engine, with four valves per cylinder, supplied by Ferrari. The astonishing power of the V8 – developed and assembled by Abarth technicians – generated 700 HP at 9000 rpm, and a maximum speed of 360 Km/h. The Lancia LC2 produced truly monstrous performances, in line with those of its competitors in the championship.
The engine was installed on a frame made of avional – a light alloy of aluminium and copper – with a honeycomb structure and magnesium ribs. The safety cell was composed of a titanium roll-bar and panels of inconel (a nickel-chromium-based super-alloy) while the bodywork was made of composite materials: carbon fibre and kevlar. Both the chassis and the bodywork were the work of the engineer Gian Paolo Dallara, who had also contributed to designing the Beta Montecalo Turbo and the Spider LC1. The total weight varied between 810 to 850 kg. The Lancia LC2 was phenomenally lightweight.
The iconic livery was once again the white design with the blue and red side stripes of the sponsor, Martini, of which only a handful of units would be made.
The championship was a battle between David and Goliath, with three Lancia LC2s, two in the official team and one private, competing against 20-30 Germans set fiercely on victory. Despite which...
... the LC2 Lancia conquered no less than 13 pole positions, demonstrating the car’s performance supremacy, plus three victories which deservedly rewarded Lancia’s bold efforts with a limited budget.
In 1983 the LC2 also triumphed in the Imola 1000 Km race, thanks to the Teo Fabi-Hans Hayer team. The following years featured LC2 wins by Italian drivers: in the Kyalami 1000 Kilometres in South Africa, driven by Riccardo Patrese and Alessandro Nannini, and at the Spa 1000 Kilometres in Belgium the winning Lancia-Martini was driven by Mauro Baldi and Riccardo Patrese.
In 1985 the engine displacement was raised to 3 litres and the car provided 720 HP: during the tests for the Le Mans 24 Hours race, the LC2 reached a maximum speed of 398 km/h on the straight. At the end of that racing season, Lancia decided to cease competing in the Endurance Championship in order to concentrate on rallies, and a LC2 exemplar rightfully took its place in Lancia’s historical collection. But its image and feats have remained engraved in the memory of connoisseurs for the elegance and modernity of its lines, for its sheer numerical rarity and for the nobility of its engine. The model owned by FCA Heritage is currently exhibited in the Records & Races area of the Heritage HUB in Mirafiori.