Achim Warmbold claimed two victories in that inaugural season using the Italian company’s tyres on two different cars: in Poland driving a Fiat Abarth 124 and then in Austria behind the wheel of a BMW 2002.
The world title was reserved for manufacturers only in the early years, and Lancia claimed a hat-trick of championships between 1974 and 1976 with Pirelli tyres fitted to its incredible Stratos. Also notable were the three consecutive Monte Carlo Rally wins scored by Sandro Munari aboard the same car.
Munari went on to win the first drivers’ title that was awarded in 1977 – the FIA Cup for Rally Drivers. He was succeeded the following season by another driver on Pirelli tyres – Markku Alen in the Fiat 131 Abarth. In 1980, Walter Rohrl became world champion also with the two Italian brands. Ari Vatanen then became the first and only driver to win the world title as a privateer with Pirelli tyres fitted to his Ford Escort in 1981.