Ferrari has amassed thousands of victories on tracks around the world,writing many pages in motorsport history. However not everyone knows that the Maranello based company has also won rallies with the 308 Gr4. The idea of preparing a car for this type of competition emerged at the end of the 1970s, when the workshops at Michelotto, in Padua, produced a vehicle that could compete with the top models of the era.
Requests came from a number of Italian teams as well as Ferrari France, always very active thanks to the importer Charles Pozzi. The weight of the 308 GTB was reduced by the use of aluminium and fibreglass in its construction instead of steel. The first model, with the chassis no. 8380, left the Padua workshop in 1978. Eleven were built up to 1984 while one was put together by a craftsman in the UK. Its first victory came in 1979 at the Monza Rally, with Raffaele “Lele” Pinto and Claudio Penariol. Two years later, the Ferrari 308 Gr4 won the first of two victories in the Tour de France Automobile, with Jean-Claude Andruet driving it for Charles Pozzi’s team, for which the versatile Frenchman had also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1972 with the 365 GTB/4. Chantal Bouchetal was his navigator in the Tour de France. Andruet repeated the feat in 1982, a great year for the 308 Gr4 .He had another woman at his side, known as “Biche”, but whose real name was Michele Espinosi-Petit. Pioneer’s sponsorship brought a change of colour from red to blue and the car was so beautiful that in 2016 a customer wanted his Ferrari 488 in the same colours. The car, produced by Tailor Made Ferrari, was unveiled to the public at the Grand Palais, at the annual re-enactment of the French race. The 308 Gr4 also won the constructors’ and drivers’ titles of the 1982 Italian Rally Championship, with Tonino Tognana and Massimo De Antoni in the Jolly Club team car. The season was very hard fought, opening with a win at the Targa Florio in March. It was actually a double victory, because Andruet and “Biche” finished second. Tognana and De Antoni triumphed again in the Ciocco Rally, while at Collina Romagna they secured an important second place, behind the Lancia of Fabrizio Tabaton and Luciano Tedeschini. The third victory of the season came in September, this time in the Piancavallo Rally in the province of Pordenone. Tognana, De Antoni and the 308 Gr4 beat the Opel of Miki Biasion and Tiziano Siviero along with the Talbot of Federico Ormezzano and Claudio Berro.
This was quickly followed by the Sanremo Rally, a World Championship round: Ferrari took the top positions in the overall standings, also winning Special Stage no. 27. Tognana and De Antoni took part in the last two races of the season with a Lancia 037, but the second place won by Nicola Busseni and Daniele Ciocca in the Aosta Rally helped seal the constructors’ title for Ferrari.
The 308 Gr4 also notched up a number of triumphs in 1983, but then had to surrender to the dominance of four-wheel drives. But Maranello had no intention of abandoning rallies and indeed started work on the GTO for 1985. However, the change of regulations announced by the International Automobile Federation (IAF) killed off the new car project.