Sauber C9

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Sauber C9
Sauber-Mercedes C9, Bj. 1988 (2009-08-07 Sp).jpg
Category Group C Prototype
Constructor Sauber Motorsport
Designer(s) Peter Sauber
Heini Mader
Predecessor Sauber C8
Successor Mercedes-Benz C11
Technical specifications
Chassis Light alloy monocoque
Suspension (front) Double wishbones, coil springs over shock absorbers, torsion bar stabilizer
Suspension (rear) Double wishbones, push-rod operated coil springs over shock absorbers, torsion bar stabilizer
Length 189 in (480.1 cm)
Width 78 in (198.1 cm)
Height 42.1 in (106.9 cm)
Axle track 63 in (160.0 cm)
Wheelbase 106.3 in (270.0 cm)
Engine Mercedes-Benz M119 4,973 cc (303.5 cu in) HL 90° 5.0L Turbo V8 Twin KKK Turbos Mid engined, longitudinally mounted
Transmission 5-speed Manual
Weight 905 kg (1,995.2 lb)
Fuel Bosch Motronic MP 2.7 Fuel Injection
Tyres Michelin
Competition history
Notable entrants Switzerland Kouros Racing
Germany Team Sauber Mercedes
Notable drivers Germany Jochen Mass
Germany Manuel Reuter
Sweden Stanley Dickens
Italy Mauro Baldi
United Kingdom Kenny Acheson
Italy Gianfranco Brancatelli
France Jean-Louis Schlesser
France Jean-Pierre Jabouille
France Alain Cudini
Debut 1987 1000km of Spa
Races Wins Poles F.Laps
21 13 7 5
Teams' Championships 1 (1989)
Constructors' Championships 1 (1989)
Drivers' Championships 1 (Jean-Louis Schlesser, 1989)

The Sauber C9 (later named the Sauber Mercedes C9 or Mercedes-Benz C9) was a Group C prototype race car introduced in 1987 as a continuation of the partnership between Sauber as a constructor and Mercedes-Benz as an engine builder for the World Sportscar Championship. The C9 replaced the previous Sauber C8.


For its debut season in 1987, the cars were run by Kouros Racing, named after the fragrance brand of its sponsor, Yves Saint Laurent, although officially backed by Mercedes-Benz. The team managed a mere twelfth in the teams standings, scoring points in only a single round. For 1988, Kouros was dropped as a sponsor, forcing the team to be renamed Sauber Mercedes. As a result, Mercedes used AEG-Olympia for sponsor – AEG being owned by Daimler-Benz at the time. They managed to finish second in the championship behind the Jaguar XJR-9 with five wins for the season. Unfortunately at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team suffered an embarrassing setback when they were forced to withdraw due to concern over their Michelin tires.

Finally, in 1989, the car was able to achieve great success. Beside replacing the black color scheme for its national plain silver scheme, reducing AEG as a minor sponsor, the older M117 5.0L turbocharged V8 engine was upgraded to the M119, which replaced steel heads with new aluminium. The C9 was able to win all but one race in the 1989 season, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. During qualifying for Le Mans, the C9 recorded a speed of 247 mph (398 km/h) on the Mulsanne Straight, a record. Mercedes driver Jean-Louis Schlesser would end up taking the driver's championship that season.

The C9 would be replaced by the Mercedes-Benz C11 from the second race onwards of the 1990 season, where it took one final win.


Reaching 248.0 mph (400 km/h) during the qualifying sessions of the 1989 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Sauber C9 has set one of the fastest top speeds ever in the history of the competition at Le Mans. These speeds led to the cessation on the huge Le Mans Mulsanne Straight and the introduction of two chicanes, from 1990 onwards.

The C9's top speed was only beaten by the WM Peugeot prototype, with a speed of 251.1 mph (405 km/h) in the 1988 race.[1] However the WM, optimized for a low drag setup and high straight line speed, suffered from handling problems elsewhere on the circuit and the engine was prone to overheating. Indeed, the car's fastest time was set with tape applied over the ducting for aerodynamic purposes[citation needed] and was withdrawn as soon as a new record was set to avoid an expensive rebuild.

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results

Year Class No. Team Drivers Laps Pos. Class
1987 C1 61 Switzerland Kouros Racing New Zealand Mike Thackwell
France Henri Pescarolo
Japan Hideki Okada
C1 62 Switzerland Kouros Racing United States Chip Ganassi
United Kingdom Johnny Dumfries
New Zealand Mike Thackwell
1988 C1 61 Switzerland Team Sauber Mercedes Italy Mauro Baldi
United Kingdom James Weaver
Germany Jochen Mass
C1 62 Switzerland Team Sauber Mercedes Germany Klaus Niedzwiedz
United Kingdom Kenny Acheson
1989 C1 61 Germany Team Sauber Mercedes Italy Mauro Baldi
United Kingdom Kenny Acheson
Italy Gianfranco Brancatelli
384 2nd 2nd
C1 62 Germany Team Sauber Mercedes France Jean-Louis Schlesser
France Jean-Pierre Jabouille
France Alain Cudini
378 5th 5th
C1 63 Germany Team Sauber Mercedes Germany Jochen Mass
Germany Manuel Reuter
Sweden Stanley Dickens
389 1st 1st


See also




  • Bamsey, Ian (2006). Sauber-Mercedes C9: The Return of the Silver Arrows. Crowood AutoClassic Series. Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wilts, UK: The Crowood Press. ISBN 186126836X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Starkey, John (2002). Sauber-Mercedes, World Champions: The Group C Cars, 1985–1991. St. Petersburg, FL, USA: Gryfon Publishers. ISBN 0970325967.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Preceded by
McLaren MP4/4
Racing Car Of The Year

Succeeded by
Tyrrell 019