Group C was an advertised by the FIA class for sports cars. With vehicles pursuant to these Regulations, the World Sportscar Championship was held from 1982 to 1992. In addition, Group C vehicles from 1982 to 1985 in the German Racing Championship were used. This was in 1983 and 1984 held under the name International German Racing Championship and 1985 as International German Sports Car Championship. The conclusion of the use of group C vehicles on the national level in Germany was the Supercup in the years 1986 to 1989. The time longest use in a championship experienced the group C in the North American IMSA GTP series, where vehicles of this class of 1981 to 1993 were approved. In addition, vehicles of Group C in the European Inter series were used. The group C was defined as a prototype class. Thus for a homologation neither a minimum number of identical vehicles built nor the use of any serial parts was mandatory.
Nature of group C and commitment of the manufacturer
The aim of the FIA was with the group C both ( with roof) to replace the production of racing cars in the Group 5 as well as the open-top sports car prototype of the group 6 While Motorsport classes are commonly advertised on the engine capacity restrictions, the group C from the beginning was to be so called consumption formula designed: The FIA wrote a minimum vehicle weight of 800 kg before and a tank capacity of a maximum of 100 liters. The displacement as well as the use of or the waiver of a motor charging were exempt. During a 1,000 - kilometer race, which represented the then minimum distance in the World Sportscar Championship, five fuel stops were allowed. In effect, the fuel consumption of the engines was therefore limited to 60 liters per 100 kilometers. This restriction did not apply to the IMSA GTP series, the race itself took place outside the jurisdiction of the FIA.
From a marketing standpoint, a group C commitment to the carmaker was interesting, as with Europe and Asia ( World Sportscar Championship), North America ( IMSA GTP series) and by the 24 -hour race of Le Mans ( worldwide attention ) all major target markets could be addressed simultaneously. Consequently already occurred in the early days several manufacturers of proprietary vehicles on the scene and used them as the factory. These were first Ford, Porsche and Lancia. In later years, Jaguar, Nissan, Toyota, Mazda, Aston Martin and Peugeot followed. For group C activities of Mercedes -Benz is to be noted that this always took place in cooperation with Clean, where the vehicles have been significantly developed and produced especially. In this respect, this commitment is not the same as with the factory inserts by other manufacturers. With Alfa Romeo another manufacturer of production cars had also developed a group C vehicle by the year 1992. However, this did not experience more racing applications.
The commitment of the works soon had the consequence that those sports and racing car manufacturer whose core business was not in the sale of production vehicles, could not afford the financial resources to develop competitive Group C vehicles. Therefore, the FIA Group C Junior introduced already in 1982, which was called from 1985 group C2. Just as with the henceforth designated as Group C1 large class as the motor sports authority familiar here on a consumption formula that should prevent a sprawling technological arms race. Vehicles of Class C or junior group C2 had to have a minimum weight of 700 kilograms, of the tank capacity could be as low as 55 liters. In five permitted refueling stops within a 1,000 - kilometer race, this meant an average fuel consumption of only 33 liters per 100 kilometers. In order to meet this requirement, was mostly relies on naturally aspirated engine capacity in the range of 3.5 liters, while the group C1 was dominated by turbo vehicles. Manufacturer of successful group -C2 vehicles were Alba, Ecurie Ecosse, Gebhardt, Tiga and Spice.
Individual group C vehicles
Alfa Romeo SE 048 from 1992, a group C vehicle without racing
Aston Martin AMR1
Jaguar XJR -6 with a V12 naturally aspirated engine
Jaguar XJR -11 with a V6 turbo engine
Lancia LC2, a coupe based on the LC1, a Spider Group 6
Mazda 787B, a group C car with rotary engine
Mercedes -Benz C11
Nimrod NRA/C2 from 1982, one of the earliest group C cars in the world, driven by an engine of Aston Martin
Porsche 962, here in long-tail design for use in Le Mans
The End of Group C
For the 1989 season the FIA reduced the minimum distance of the previous long-distance races from 1,000 to 480 km, 1991, to 430 kilometers. Also in 1989, the previous principle of consumption formula was abandoned. Instead, group C vehicles should henceforth be powered by 3.5-liter naturally aspirated engines. This corresponded to the then state of Formula 1, in the 1989 turbo engines were banned. The group C2 accounted for replacement. Engine manufacturers such as Mercedes -Benz gave henceforth on their engagement in sports car racing, supplying instead Formula 1 teams with engines. For private teams had a successful participation in the World Sportscar Championship against the background that de facto Formula 1 technology had to be used, no longer financially viable. Due to lack of nominations, the sports car world championship in the 1993 season was canceled before the first race by the FIA. It is sometimes conjectured, the FIA have had to be unattractive to the early nineties through their regulation changes aware of the group C, as they become in the public and media favor towards the Formula 1 World Championship ( also organized by the FIA) to a now overwhelming competition be.
Noteworthy is the successful afterlife, which was granted some group C vehicles in other sports car classes. Thus succeeded in 1994 the team of Niirnberger Jochen duration of overall victory in Le Mans on a vehicle designated Dauer 962 LM. It was this to be a Porsche 962, which was constructed according to the specifications of the new GT1 class and thus did not start as a prototype, but as a street sports car, although there was no anchoring in the automotive series production for this vehicle. Taking into account the fact that the structural basis for the Porsche 962 was formed by the Porsche 956, so it was the Dauer 962 LM at the time of his Le Mans victory to an already twelve years old model.
In the years 1996 and 1997, won at Le Mans each Team Joest with a vehicle called TWR Porsche WSC -95. It was an open vehicle ( Spider ) for which the chassis of the Jaguar XJR- 14 and the engine of the Porsche 962 were used.
The Cologne-based Kremer team built three vehicles of the Porsche 962 to spidering and sat this 1994 to 1998 under the name Kremer K8 Spyder in a race.
There were two projects for the construction of street-legal sports car on the basis of group C vehicles. This was the one of the Schuppan 962CR based on the Porsche 962, on the other hand the mentioned period 962 LM, who won in a version not street legal in 1994 in Le Mans. Up until the cessation of the activities of the permanent Sportwagen GmbH in 2008, the Dauer 962 LM was available to order. In optics and features the last copies differed greatly on the racing based on the Porsche 962.
Similar to Formula 1 in the eighties as well as the Group C was not spared from tragic accidents. Drivers who came by racing accidents with group C vehicles killed were Manfred Winkelhock (Porsche 962, accident on August 11, 1985 in Mosport ), Stefan Bellof (Porsche 956, accident on 1 September 1985 in Spa) and Jo Gartner (Porsche 962, accident on June 1, 1986 in Le Mans).
- The group C is still the one vehicle class, which in races on a road round course, not during training, testing, or special record attempts, reached the highest speed. It is reported that the Sauber C9 with Jean-Louis Schlesser went through at the wheel at the 24 - hour race at Le Mans in 1989 the final section of the Mulsanne Mulsanne straight or 407 km / h After the official presentation of the organizing Automobile Club de l' Ouest speed record at Le Mans is located at 405 km / h achieved by Roger Dorchy in 1988 to a world of P88 Welter Racing. Regardless of what value is valid, it would be a record for eternity as the achievable speed at Le Mans has since throttled by the installation of two chicanes on the Mulsanne straight. Other road round courses are not eligible for comparable speeds.
- At its end, the Group C thanks to the commitment of the Mercedes Junior Team to a kind of elite of the German race track racing. The later seven -time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher was as active as the later three -time Grand Prix winner and runner- Heinz -Harald Frentzen for this team. Schumacher scored his first two victories in auto racing with WM statute within the group C: 1990 in Mexico City and in 1991 in Auto Polis, Japan.