There are few circuits better than Monza to showcase the strengths of two of the best Group C cars in existence. The bellow of the Mercedes-Benz C11’s V8 might be more satisfying than the Porsche 962’s muted six, but those long, slinky bodies are equally gorgeous. As these cars benefit from big slicks and ground effects, they aren’t lacking in grip, and their force-fed motors fire them down Monza’s straights with frightening pace. It’s no mystery why these incredible cars weren’t far off from the F1 cars of the era.
The Mercedes’ 5.0-liter V8, known as M119 for all you geeks out there, makes its 730 horsepower with 605 lb-ft of torque available at 3,500 rpm, and those numbers help it fire off the medium-speed corners with a little more ferocity. The 962’s flat-six builds a little slower, but great gearing, a slippery shape, the aid of a tow, and relentless top-end helps it close the gap.
Unfortunately, Monza’s corners are few, short, and generally slow, and so the cars’ cornering speeds aren’t on full display here. Chalk some of that up a likely low-downforce setup to suit the straights, but it should be noted that the C11 develops 5,879 pounds of downforce at 200 miles an hour. That’s impressive—but not as impressive as the 962’s 5,584 pounds at the same speed. Of course, these numbers are from a late-model 962 with a high-downforce setup.
Enjoy a hard scrap between two skilled drivers in similar machinery. With these wide cars, a narrow circuit, and forceful defense, these two have to be very patient and skilled to pass—and the winner isn’t certain until the very last moment.