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Group C: The Rise and Fall of the Golden Age of Endurance Racing: March

Submitted by on August 13, 2020

By Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica

In the 10th part of our Group C retrospective, we take a close look at the sports cars that were built by March Engineering.

The March 82G was the company’s first GTP eligible sports car for use under IMSA regulations and arrived on the scene in 1982. With Adrian Newey on board as designer, March based the 82G on the monocoque chassis they had developed for the BMW M1C in 1981. They equipped the car with a Chevrolet 90° V8 engine. In comparison with Group C cars, such as the Porsche 956 and 962, GTP cars were much more powerful.

Bobby Rahal, Bruce Canepa and Jim Trueman drove the debuting March 82G to the pole position of the 1982 24 Hours of Daytona, but a broken gearbox lead to an early withdrawal. At the 12 hours of Sebring that year they finished 2nd overall.

The 82G was followed by the 83G in 1983. Although the cars looked similar, there was plenty of development to be found in the details. Five cars were produced for the 1983 season; four for participation in the IMSA championship and a single car for Nissan to run under Group C regulations. One of the four chassis built for the IMSA championship, 83G/04, won every race of the 1983 championship and helped Al Holbert claim the title.

Adrian Newey also designed the March 85G that appeared in 1985 as the final evolution of the March 82G. From the 11 cars that were built, four were equipped with a Porsche 956 engine. Both BMW and Nissan ordered cars from March, and it was a March-Nissan that claimed victory at the Fuji round of the World Sportscar Championship.

March developed the 86G for racing in Group C and IMSA in 1986, known as the BMW GTP, Buick Hawk or Nissan R86V. It all depended on what engine was used. March built 11 cars, of which four were sold to BMW and five to Nissan. The remaining cars were sold to privately-run teams.

BMW used the M12/14 2 liter straight four and Nissan used the VG30ET V6 mid engine. Buick adapted the 3-litre turbo V6 as well as a 4.5 liter naturally aspirated V6. March built just three cars for Nissan, the March 87G, equipped with the new three-liter VEJ30 V-8 engine. For the Le Mans Company a pair of March 88Gs were built in 1988.

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