1983 March 832 Formula 2: shortest reigning king of the Nordschleife
In 1983, German Christian Danner took pole position for the ‘Eifelrennen’ in his March 832 Formula 2 car with a time of 6:26.19. Averaging 194,192 kilometers per hour it was the fastest anyone had ever lapped around the famous ‘Nordschleife’. The record lap time could have lasted longer than it did, had it not been for German Group C driver Stefan Bellof’s effort a few weeks later..
Danner and his F2 car were actually faster than Briton James Hunt had gone during the final Formula One Grand Prix in 1976. Danner’s British-built March 832 was powered by a BMW M12/7B 2 liter 4-cylinder engine producing over 300 horsepower. March Racing’s F2 finished 3rd in the 1983 F2-championship, courtesy of Italian racing driver Beppe Gabbiani, who also won the race at the Nordschleife for which Danner had qualified on pole. A year later the March 832 was actually converted to a closed-wheel sports prototype for the revived Can-Am series where it once again performed, clinching the 1984 Can-Am series championship title.
It was the late Stefan Bellof and the impressive Porsche 956 combination, breaking the 200 kilometers per hour average speed barrier, that robbed Danner from his lap record at the Norschleife just a few weeks after he set it. Bellof looked set to win the race in the FIA World Endurance Championship as well, only to flip his Group C Sports prototype at high speed, taking him out of the race in spectacular fashion. After sustaining no serious injuries Bellof went on to win the 1984 FIA World Endurance Championship. His lap record at the Nordschleife stood for 35 years. Bellof tragically lost his life in a racing accident 2 years later.
Christian Danner went on to win the 1985 F3000 championship, making this Formula One debut for Zakspeed the same year. His best result in F1 was a 4th position in the Grand Prix of America. After racing in the Champ Car World Series and Grand Prix Masters he retired and became a race commentator for German television.
The 1983 March 832 is owned by Gerbardt Motorsport and will be driven in the ‘Cathedral’ by Thorsten Guggolz from Germany.