What the Pagani Zonda R’s Insane Nürburgring Record Really Means

6:48 versus the ultimate record of 6:11 means a quasi-production car is now within 10% of the time set in the fastest Porsche sports prototype by a man who made Ayrton Senna look timid. Let’s dive into some numbers.

Stefan Bellof’s pole position time of 6:11.13 at the 1983 1000 km Nürburgring race has always felt like an artifact from space. It resulted from the unique coincidence of pairing a driver who was frighteningly reckless in hunting for gaps with a racing prototype that was just frightening, period. Unfortunately, there is no proper video of Bellof’s great day out, just this composite you’ve no doubt already seen, which gives but a hint of Bellof’s speed:

Bellof’s lap was run on the same 12.94-mile configuration of the Norschleife that is in use today, which makes a direct comparison with the Zonda R’s time possible: at


6:47.5, it is 109.8% of Bellof’s time.

It’s also interesting to see how the Zonda R compares to the very last and therefore fastest Formula One cars that have competed at the Ring.

The last F1 race on the Nordschleife was the 1976 German Grand Prix, made last by Niki Lauda’s infamous crash. The F1 races were run on the track’s original length of 14.19 miles, which calls for an indirect comparison of average speeds.

Pole for the 1976 race was won by James Hunt in a McLaren, with a time of 7:07, which translates to 119.65 mph as opposed to the Zonda’s speed of 114.21 mph: a difference of 4.76%. The Zonda compares favorably with the fastest F1 lap ever on the old Nordschleife, Niki Lauda’s pole position for the 1975 German Grand Prix: at 6:59 and 121.96 mph, it is only 6.79% ahead of the Zonda.


Bellof’s average speed, meanwhile, was 125.51 mph.

Photo Credit: Steve Robinson, AllsportUK /Allsport

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