Race for Glory: Audi vs Lancia – A Petrolhead’s Perspective

I was lucky enough to get early access to the hyped-up motorsport film. But did it encapsulate the David vs Goliath narrative well and will it convert new fans to the world of rally? The high-production film left little to be desired regarding realism, although I feel more detail was required in the storyline to convey the drama of the 1983 season fully.

The Backstory

The film follows Lancia in the 1983 World Rally Championship. Led by a stone-faced Cesare Fiorio, played by Riccardo Scamarcio, they face the mighty Audi. The reigning champions are a slick act, personified by Roland Gumpert, played by Daniel Brühl who appeared in Rush. It was truly a David vs Goliath story, except David has a company that expects wins or it will scrap the project and Goliath has a world-class testing facility and the backing of a big-time company.

The Storyline

The film then follows the development of the Lancia 037, the last two-wheel drive car to ever win the WRC Constructors’ Championship. From the teardown of the Audi Quattro to the return to the concept of the Stratos, Fiorio knows he is onto a winner with his new machine.

Throughout the film, an interview with Fiorio plays. The journalist questions his motivation and his passion and the focused Italian reaffirms that he only competes to win. It reveals his short career as a rally driver and his desire for success, perhaps to make up for his own failure.

Team Tension

Fiorio is tested with the talented but temperamental driver, Walter Röhrl, and pressures from management. He handles them well, but it is evident the stress is getting to him. Threats of Lancia pulling the plug unless they win and a near-fatal crash build tension.

The addition of Katie Clarkson-Hill’s character, Jane McCoy, offers a more human side to the film and digs deeper into the character of Fiorio. Whilst not a member of the actual team, she thickens the storyline and plays a believable part in the team’s success.

Attention to Detail

The 1983 season has been recreated to stunning effect. Including genuine period cars, the retro feel is spot on. Everything from the team vans to uniforms and crowds has been brought to life and the raw, visceral nature of rallying has been captured perfectly. The up-and-close shots give a brilliant idea of what fans felt, whilst the only major difference between the real footage and the recreation is the video quality. The team has clearly worked incredibly hard to recreate the exhilarating racing between the Audi Quattro and Lancia 037.

Left Wanting More

Despite the stunning scenery and action shots, I can’t help but feel something was missing. The 93-minute runtime felt too short and double the time wouldn’t have felt like it was being dragged out. The exclusion of rounds in the championship meant the full picture wasn’t quite there and the buildup suffered due to that. Other films of a similar ilk, such as Ford vs Ferrari, encapsulated the drama and nerves better than the rally-focused film. Lancia took the main stage (and rightly so), although I would have liked more insight into the reaction of Audi and the fans. Both were overlooked in the majority and it could have been titled Lancia’s Race for Glory just as easily.

My Final Verdict

The film harks back to the Group B era, seen as the Golden Age by some. If you want some nostalgia for simpler rally times or want to enjoy a cinematic experience with stunning cars, the film is perfect. Those who know little about rally will enjoy it as well, with the realistic recreation providing an easy-to-understand introduction to retro rallying. Motorsport fanatics however may be disappointed by a lack of depth and the down-to-the-wire feeling isn’t quite there. The story was deserving of a film, but unfortunately, the execution of the storyline could be improved. It’s worth a watch though if you are looking for a new motorsport film or want a more creative take on one of the most legendary rally seasons ever.

Race for Glory: Audi vs Lancia is available on digital platforms from 5th February and on DVD from 11th March.

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