Blissful Open Road: 1,000-HP Sauber-Mercedes C11 on an Empty Runway

Sauber C11’s Mercedes 5.0-liter V-8 keeps its roar, unlike typical turbocharged engines.

You may feel like you have an exciting job, but then you find out about the person who is actually getting paid to drive a 1,000-horsepower Mercedes-powered racing car on a deserted airstrip. Professional race car driver Richard Bradley shared a video on Twitter showcasing his experience testing a Sauber-Mercedes C11 Group C prototype. The sound of the car in the video is absolutely stunning.

The C11 was the successor to Sauber’s victorious C9 at Le Mans. It utilized the 5.0-liter V-8 from its predecessor, the same engine found in the SL500 by Mercedes. With the addition of two turbochargers, it generated approximately 700 to 750 hp for racing purposes. However, for qualifying sessions, Sauber increased the boost to push the engine past 1,000 horsepower. All this power was housed in an ultra-high-downforce, carbon-chassis vehicle that weighed less than 2,000 pounds. Impressive!

Before starting his Formula 1 career, Michael Schumacher raced in the C11 series, including the model we are discussing today. The partnership between Sauber and Mercedes during the 1990 World SportsCar Championship was highly successful with the C11, although it did not achieve victory at Le Mans. Sauber decided not to participate in the 1990 race, only managing a 5th place finish in the 1991 event.

Despite the initial intimidation factor, driver Karl Wendlinger reassured that the C11 was actually quite manageable. “The C11 was a very fast car, a very competitive car, but it was not so difficult to drive,” he explained. “First of all, the car had lots of downforce, especially on the rear axle. And if you were once a little bit too fast somewhere, then there was a slight understeer —which is easier to correct than an oversteer.”

“The engine was really comfortable to drive, very good pickup, nice rev-band to drive with, good torque, good power, so it was in total—car and engine was a very good compromise.”When it came to the driving experience, the engine proved to be exceptionally comfortable, offering impressive pickup and a smooth rev-band. The torque and power were also commendable, making it a well-rounded package when paired with the car.

Today, it appears to be an excellent moment. We envy individuals like Bradley, who have the opportunity to drive.


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