Just before the Nürburgring 24-hour race will be green flagged on May 12, Porsche will present a dream team at the Nürburgring Nordschleife for the benefit of the expected 200,000 spectators. There, Timo Bernhard and Hans-Joachim Stuck will take the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo and the Porsche 956 C respectively on a demonstration run around the famous Nordschleife. The 919 Hybrid is the Le Mans and FIA World Endurance Championship winning car from 2015, 2016 and 2017, while the 956 C is the car that won all titles in the World Sportscar Championship from 1982 to 1984, and still holds the outright Nordschleife track record.
The lap on the Nordschleife is the 919 Evo’s first public appearance. This is the same car that Neel Jani drove into the record books, setting a new lap record at the 7.004km Spa-Francorchamps circuit just a month ago. This demonstration run will be the second stop for the ‘919 Tribute Tour’. However, no stopwatches will be required as the two racing cars will be driving behind a safety car, and will bypass the start-and-finish section because of the grid formation for the 24-hour race.
On 28 May 1983, during practice for the 1000km race, Bellof lapped the Nordschleife in a storming 6:11.13 minutes. Due to construction work, the exact track length was 20.835 kilometres at the time, which resulted in an average speed of more than 200km/h. The 2.649cc six-cylinder, twin turbocharged, flat engine in the 956 C produced 620bhp. Bellof’s car was chassis number 007. He was leading the race when he retired in a massive accident in the area called ‘Pflanzgarten’ but walked away unharmed. One year later, in 1984, he won the 1000km race at the Nürburgring, sharing a Rothmans Porsche 956 C with Derek Bell.
Timo Bernhard is a passionate admirer of Stefan Bellof who died at Spa in 1985. “I’m not only impressed by Stefan Bellof’s great performances,” he explained, “he must have been a really great guy. Whoever knew him seems to have adored him. His 1983 unbeaten lap record at the Nordschleife is terrific. I feel honoured to accompany a historic Porsche 956 C with the 919 Evo.”
On his way to his 1984 Driver’s World Endurance Championship title, Stefan Bellof once shared a 956 with Hans-Joachim Stuck. Despite an incident by Stuck that required repairs, the couple won the Imola 1000km race.
“This race in Italy was of very high importance for me,” 67-year-old Stuck recalled. “The 956 was new to me and Stefan taught me how to drive this ground effect car. I learnt an awful lot from him. When I joined Porsche, I understood why those cars were unbeatable. You had no gearbox issues, the brakes were excellent and thanks to this tremendous downforce, you could enter the corners at very high speed. Literally, the car stuck to the ground. For me it is a world-class opportunity to take the 956 once again around the Nordschleife. Emotionally, this is something hard to top.”
The 956 C that Stuck will drive around the Nürburgring carries chassis number 005. It is the car Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass shared during the entire 1984 world championship season. For commercial rights reasons the name of tobacco sponsor Rothmans frequently had to be replaced by the word ‘Racing’. This was the case on Bellof’s record lap chassis 007 and is the same on the car that Stuck will drive on 12 May.
Just like the 956, the Porsche 919 Hybrid was the most innovative racing car of its time. To prepare the 919 Evo for its record run last month, the base car used was the 2017 world championship winning car. The entire hardware of the powertrain remained untouched, but several aerodynamic modifications were made to prepare the car for the record run. In addition, developments were included that had been prepared for the 2018 WEC season but never raced, after the team’s 2017 withdrawal.
Spectators at the Nürburgring for the 24-hour race this weekend will be in for a treat when the two iconic race cars take to the track for a once in a lifetime experience. Be sure to get the photos you want to keep, and to show the next generation – you’re unlikely to see this spectacle again in a hurry.
Edited by: Glen Smale
Images by: Porsche Werkfoto