Top 5 great team motorsport rivalries

We run through our favourite racing rivalries

Porsche vs Ferrari – Le Mans 1970

The Porsche-Ferrari clash at Le Mans in 1970 remains a high point in the history of the sport, immortalised in Steve McQueen’s movie ‘Le Mans’. Just consider that seven Porsche 917s faced 11 Ferrari 512Ss, with the world’s top F1 and Sports car drivers forming the crews – it was a battle on a vast scale. Evenly matched in qualifying, Ferrari had a terrible race, with one accident alone accounting for four of their number. Porsche suffered in the fight too, amidst atrocious weather, but the surviving 917s took first and second places. The best-placed Ferrari was fourth. It was Porsche’s first outright victory: the marque had arrived at the top table.  

Peugeot vs Lancia – World Rally Championship 1986

When Henri Toivonen’s Lancia won the last round of the 1985 world rally championship, on the Delta S4’s debut, it was clear that double ’85 champions Peugeot faced a tougher 1986. Toivonen was Lancia’s ace card, said to be the one man who could truly tame the wild S4. He won the Monte; Peugeot’s Kankkunen struck back in Sweden. The deaths of spectators in Portugal plunged the rallying world into turmoil, and then came Corsica, and the fiery death of Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto. In San Remo the Italian officials excluded the Peugeot team over a technicality. The constructors’ crown was still Peugeot's, but only weeks after the last round did Kankkunen learn the Italian results were annulled, and that he was champ.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to our exclusive new offer and SAVE 39% on the shop price, get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £20!

Jaguar vs Porsche – Le Mans 1988

Tom Walkinshaw knew that to deliver the big sports car racing prize to Jaguar – victory at Le Mans – his ‘big cats’ would have to break Porsche. They’d succeeded in overwhelming the ageing 962c in the championship rounds by 1987, but Le Mans had been a disappointment – a multitude of problems had scuppered any chance of stopping the sixth Porsche victory in a row. For ’88, Jag fielded five stunning XJR-9LM models, powered by 7-litre V12s, against a ‘works’ Porsche team coming out of retirement one last time with three cars just for Le Mans. The pendulum of advantage swung back and forth throughout the contest, with mechanical issues on both sides, but by flag-fall Jaguar had done it: their first Le Mans win since 1957. 

McLaren vs Ferrari – F1 1998-2004 

The intensity of the McLaren-Ferrari battles defined F1 in the final years of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. It was McLaren versus Ferrari, Mercedes versus, err, Ferrari; Newey versus the Brawn-Byrne magic combination; Ron against Jean, and of course, an ice-cool Finn called Mika Hakkinen head-to-head with the German maestro, Michael Schumacher. It was the era of the screaming V10 made from unobtanium; of sky-high revs and 900bhp+. And even tears (Hakkinen and Schumacher in successive years, both at Monza). Hakkinen took the title in 1998 and 1999, but thereafter it was a sea of red until a certain Spaniard made his mark on the F1 world.

Auto Union vs Mercedes-Benz – 1930s F1 

It’s almost impossible to imagine the effect these cars had in period. It would be like a team turning up to a Grand Prix this year with a car that had twice the power of everyone else, a team three or four times the size and professionalism, and with a budget way beyond the other leading teams combined. Bankrolled by the German government as a propaganda tool, from 1935 to the outbreak of World War Two the teams of Auto Union and Mercedes Benz – with their giant V16 and supercharged straight-8 engines – turned the premier races of the period into their own private confrontation. It would take nearly 50 years before power outputs rose to similar levels.

Advertisement - Article continues below



Glickenhaus 007 Le Mans hypercar specs uncovered

12 Feb 2020

Prodrive opens restoration service for its iconic competition cars

28 Nov 2019

Track-only BMW M2 CS Racing unveiled 

6 Nov 2019

Ford Bronco R prototype to enter the Baja 1000

5 Nov 2019

Most Popular

used cars

Best used cars for sale this week

We’ve delved into the classifieds and chosen our favourite cars for sale this week
27 Mar 2020
Mercedes CLA45 AMG hatchback

Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S coupe UK review

The more stylish version of eCoty 2019’s bronze medallist is as impressive on UK roads as it was overseas
28 Mar 2020
Porsche 911 Turbo

New Porsche 911 Turbo gains Lightweight and Sport packages 

The 2020 Porsche 911 Turbo hasn’t been with us for long, but a raft of packages and optional extras are already in the pipeline
26 Mar 2020
Hyundai i30 N

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Nurburgring

We brought the Hyundai i30 Fastback back to its spiritual home in Germany's Eifel mountains, where there is a racing track you might well have heard o…
7 Oct 2019