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  Sauber C8 Mercedes

  Article Image gallery (33) Chassis (3) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Switzerland
Produced from:1985 - 1986
Numbers built:3
Successor:Sauber Mercedes C9
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWith the all-new C6, Sauber was one of the manufacturers on the grid of the very first Group C race; the 1982 Monza 1000 km. Powered by a Cosworth DFL V8, the C6 was not particularly successful. It was then replaced by the C7 in 1983, which was let down by the BMW M1 derived straight six. For 1985, the Swiss racing car constructor found a new partner in Mercedes-Benz, which would ultimately lead to World Championship winning machinery.

The first Mercedes-Benz engined Sauber was the C8, which in itself was an evolution of the C7. It was built around an aluminium monocoque with an additional steel tubular subframe to support the engine, gearbox and rear suspension. The latter consisted of double wishbones with high mounted rocker-actuated springs and dampers. This layout was required to allow for the largest possible tunnels for the ground effect aerodynamics.

The engine used was derived from the Mercedes-Benz M117 V8, which was developed for racing by Swiss specialist Heini Mader. He fitted the single cam, all-aluminium, five-litre unit with a pair of KKK turbochargers. This, literally, boosted the power of the production derived V8 to 700 bhp and 800 Nm of torque. This power was transferred to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox. The completed Sauber C8 Mercedes tipped the scales at 870 kg.

The first C8 was ready in time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1985, where it was entered by the factory team for Dieter Quester, John Nielsen and Max Welti. Unfortunately, the C8's debut at Le Mans was short-lived. The car flipped with John Nielsen at the wheel during practice. The car was beyond immediate repair and had to be withdrawn from the race. In fact, such was the extent of the damage that the first C8 was not raced again.

The disastrous Le Mans debut also meant that Sauber had to sit out the rest of the season. For 1986, two brand new C8s were built up now liveried in the dark-blue colours of perfume brand Kouros. At the opening rounds, the second C8 served as a back-up car. The C8 that did race, finished ninth at Monza and eighth at Silverstone. For Le Mans, both cars were entered but both retired with mechanical issues. At the Nürburgring Mike Thackwell and Henri Pescarolo scored a breakthrough victory.

For the 1987 season, the C8 was superseded by the C9, which featured a newly developed twin-cam version of the V8. Crucially, the Mercedes-Benz involvement increased and by 1988, the cars were raced in the silver company colours. One of the C8s was sold to the French Noel del Bello team that continued to campaign the car through to summer of 1988.

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  Article Image gallery (33) Chassis (3) Specifications