The 1980s were a mixed time for sportscar racing. In the early 80s, Group 5 was the official World Sportscar formula. This consisted of a kind of 'silhouette' formula, with Porsche dominating with their 935s.
Lancia came along and stole Porsche's thunder a little, by running a 1.4 litre turbocharged Monte Carlo. The engine size meant it didn't compete directly with the 935s and was able to mop up with class wins every time. By now, though, Porsche were only involved as a manufacturer and the works Lancias soon got competitive enough to beat the 935s. This led to Lancia running cars with slightly over size engines, which allowed them to steal over 2 litre points from Porsche and take the championship.
Group 5 had a little support from other manufacturers, notably BMW with a stillborn M1, but the resurgance of sportscar racing centred around Le Mans.
Following on from a class at the French classic, mainly intended for French manufacturers, there was a rise of popularity of prototype coupes. This was fueled by the 1980 Rondeau Le Mans win and fond memories of 60s 'GT' battles between Ferrari, Ford and Porsche.
The FIA recognised the demand and Group C was launched in 1982. At first, the Porsche 956 dominated the class against Lancia and specialist makers (notably Lola, who won the 1981 Brands Hatch 1000Kms in a 'semi-Group 6' form).
Despite their undoubted speed (and with shades of the 70s Alfas), Lancia were never able to break the Porsche stranglehold.
It wasn't until the arrival of Jaguar and Mercedes (masquerading, at first, as privateer Saubers) in 1985 and 1986, respectively, that the balance of power began to shift and the series really took off.
Porsche remained strong, in both works and privateer form, but the more modern Jaguar and, later, Mercedes, gained the upper hand.
The success of the series attracted competitors, spectators and the Japanese manufacturers. Toyota, Nissan and Mazda all spent large amounts of money, developing modern, powerful machines, but, despite showing good speed and respectable reliability, sometimes strange decisions from the Japanese masters often saw good results lost and bad luck sometimes played its part.
As the 80s drew to a close, sportscar racing looked strong. Mercedes dominated the 1989 series, but Jaguar and the Japanese had new cars to challenge with and Porsche were still making up the numbers (and picking up good placings, thanks to their reliability) with the 962 (a slightly altered version of the 956).