Many thought Stefan Bellof's legendary record on the Nordschleife in a Porsche 956 would never be beaten – but Porsche have just proved that wrong
Porsche's 919 Hybrid Evo has beaten the long-standing Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record by with a time of 5m19.55s, breaking the previous record set in 1983 by Stefan Bellof in a Porsche 956 C.
Timo Bernhard (below), who claimed the new record on the world renowned circuit known as the ‘Green Hell’, is a two-times Le Mans winner and reigning World Endurance Champion. The Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo is a development of the Le Mans prototype and the same car that won the Le Mans 24-hour race in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The car also won the coveted FIA World Endurance Championship three times consecutively, with both drivers and manufacturers’ titles respectively. The venerable record has stood for 35 years, previously being set by Bellof in the 956 C (below) with a blistering time of 6m11.13s.
Bellof’s lap record is recognised around the world as one of the greatest driving performances ever seen. The Porsche was known for its uneasy handling style, struggling particularly at the Karussel part of the circuit. With ground-breaking advances in downforce generation, known as ground effect, the 620bhp Porsche initially set a practice lap of 6:41 minutes, 30 seconds slower than the eventual record.
Bellof, 25 at the time, became the first driver to exceed an average speed of 124mph. Sadly, he died two years later at Spa, yet his legacy was laid into the Nordschleife asphalt forever.
Derek Bell in Porsche 956 Nordschleife lap
Bellof's 1983 teammate Derek Bell returned to the Nordschleife in 2013 to film a lap in the Porsche 956 as a tribute to Bellof – and to mark the renaming of the Pfianzgarten corner where Bellof crashed later in the race, after setting the lap record, to Stefan Bellof S.