Riccardo Patrese had an association with Lancia in sports car racing lasting seven years beginning in 1979 when the Lancia Beta Monte Carlo made its debut at the Silverstone 6 Hours. Walter Röhrl, Riccardo's co-driver, was then a renowned rally driver who would go on the win the World Rally Championship twice in 1979 and 1982. The pair did not finish on the Monte Carlo's debut, but Riccardo later recalled a drive with Röhrl in a Lancia Stratos rally car:

It’s another world driving on gravel with someone like him in the Black Forest going at 180kmh on a road as wide as the car with trees all around, feeling there was no grip…It was quite something.

Riccardo went on to a number of successes with Lancia in sports cars, winning races and partnered by drivers such as Eddie Cheever, Hans Heyer, Henri Pescarolo, Michele Alboreto, Alessandro Nannini, and he almost won the drivers title in a dramatic finale at Brands Hatch in 1982 beaten only by Jacky Ickx and Porsche.