► Bellof in a 956/C vs the 'Ring
► A record not broken for 30 years
► And even then, it took an extreme car
It’s May 28, 1983. In the middle of a German forest, a Porsche 956's twin-turbo 2.6-litre flat-six engine echoes through the trees.
It’s the sound of practice for that year’s Nurburgring 1000km race, round three of the 1983 FIA World Endurance Championship. Six of Porsche’s 956 Group C race cars are present, but just one will steer to a lap that would go down in history. At the wheel was up and coming Porsche factory driver Stefan Bellof, who for 35 years the fastest man to lap the infamous Nordshleife.
Porsche 956/962: what you need to know
For Bellof's record to be broken, Porsche needed to disregard all existing rule books and create the unhinged 919 Evo racer.
The young German's teammate Derek Bell described driving the 956 as a constant struggle against the circuit’s notorious bumps. 'With ground effects we had a lot of trouble keeping the car on the road,' he said.
The quickest Nurbugring times revealed
Chassis #007, Bellof’s ride, was slightly different to the other Porsche 956s at the event, running bigger 13-inch front wheels and carrying other small upgrades to improve handling.
During practice, Bellof’s target was Jochen Mass’ 6:16:85 lap, set in a 956 earlier in the weekend. In the end, Bellof – soon to be touted as a Formula 1 world champion in the making – went five seconds quicker, stopping the clocks at a jaw-dropping 6:11.13. If both cars started at the same time, Mass would have needed a head start of more than 275 metres to stay ahead by the end of the lap.
One of Porsche’s other drivers, Keke Rosberg – the infamous lover of cigarettes and the father of 2016 F1 champ Nico Rosberg – was Formula 1’s reigning champion at the time. On the same day, and at the wheel of one of the rival 956s, he was a full half a minute slower than Bellof. 'I thought [mine] was a good lap, until I saw the times,; Rosberg told Motor Sportmagazine. He would have needed a head start of close to two kilometres to stay ahead of Bellof in a dog fight.
Bellof’s 6:11.13 equates to a staggering average lap speed of 202km/h or 126mph.
During the race Bellof set a scintillating pace, pulling a 36-second lead on Mass in just six laps – with Rosberg a further two minutes behind Mass. When Bell finished his stint, the pair’s lead had narrowed, and Bellof once again cut loose. In his second stint the German set the Nordshleife race record, a 6:25.91. Shortly after, he would push too hard and crash out at Pfianzgarten at 257km/h or 160mph.
This story originally appeeared on whichcar.com.au