Mazda’s place in rally wasn’t well established in the early 1980s. It didn’t take long to realize that the company had effectively brought a knife to the kind of gunfight where an Abrams tank would barely be considered adequate. The RX-7 was without a doubt, Mazda’s best foot forward at the beginning of the decade, but there were two major issues that put the little rotary sports car at a disadvantage. One was that the cars were pretty down on power compared to others in class. 300 horsepower out of a first-gen RX-7 is nothing to sneeze at by any stretch of the imagination, but when you have smaller cars pushing that kind of power and other cars deep in the 500 horse range, plus a notorious lack of torque, you aren’t stepping off on the right foot. Then there’s the issue of rear-wheel-drive. Lancia’s World Rally Championship Constructor’s Title win in 1983 wasn’t a fluke by any measure…the 037, much like the Stratos that preceded it, were both wicked rear-drive machines tuned directly for the dirt. And after 1983, no rear-drive car was going to pose a threat to the tidal wave of four-wheel-drive machines that were joining the Audi Quattro’s war march. Even Lancia themselves walked away from two-wheel-drive, returning with the Delta S4. The Mazda, on the other hand, was meant to be a handler on the street and didn’t start life playing in the dirt. You have to give them credit for trying, though.