1988 March IMSA GTP86G BUICK
Year of manufacture1988
Number of seats2
Performance950 PS / 699 kW / 938 BHP
Eligible for the Group C series, Le Mans Classic, Daytona Classic
Born as a very rare BMW GTP from BMW USA
Bought , sponsored and extensively raced in 1988 by G Moretti, the owner of MOMO
900-plus bhp Buick 3 litre turbo
The most developed MARCH BUICK 86G
The MARCH 86 G model: designed for both NISSAN and BMW
The March 86G was en entirely new Group C design by Gordon Coppuck, and was the first car to be designed by March using CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacture). It should be pointed out that the 86G was commissioned by Nissan, being entered and raced as the Nissan R86V, and by BMW North America.
The March 86G had more honeycomb panels than the 82G-85G series, inboard rocker-arm rear suspension and was narrower across the beam to allow the installation of side-mounted radiators. The story of the March-Nissans involved the development of the number of 86, 87 and 88G’s, which were used by the works Nismo and the quasi-works “Team Le Mans” operation in the Japanese championship and for the annual trip at Le Mans.
The suspensions were similar to those on the indycars, with magnesium uprights, and Coppuck reckoned that the 1986 model was more than 100 kg lighter than the 85G.
March aerodynamicist Tino Belli was responsible for the 86G’s shape, developed in wind tunnel, of course, and the bodywork was made entirely of carbon fibres and kevlar.
BMW North America
BMW of North America planned a major assault on the 1986 IMSA GTP Championship, basing its programme on a 2-litre version of the four-cylinder, iron block engine used in Formula 1. With a single Garrett AiResearch turbo-charger the Type M12/4 engine developed up to 800 bhp with reasonable reliability, and David Hobbs, the first to drive the car competitively.
In what became a very good business for March, Bicester firm supplied four 86G chassis (86G 01, 86G 02, 86G 03 and 86G 04) to BMW of North America between October 1985 and January 1986, and two more in May (86G 09) and June (86G 10 the car offered for sale) to replace originals. Two early 86G’s were burned out in tracksides fires, and another was written off when the rear bodywork became detached and caused Bobby Rahal to crash heavily during trials at Daytona.
« BMW barbecues » became a well–established part of the IMSA scene in the first half of 1986, although Hobbs and Watson collected an eight-place finish at Miami in March. At Watkins Glenn, John Andretti earned his first pole position, and he and Jones led all the way to the chequered flag for BMW’s first, on only, IMSA victory.
The decision had already been taken to withdraw the team at the end of the year, although the two cars also ran at Columbus and Daytona to finish the season. It was a pity, because after a string of failures the cars were well sorted out, and the Glen success might have been the first of many. In the final analysis, BMW finished sixth in the 1986 IMSA GTP Championship.
In 1987 two teams entered March 86G's in the IMSA GTP Championship: Phil Conte team and Momo Course
The Momo team started racing with a March 86G in 1987. The team entered only one car this year, 86G 04 and afterwards the Phil Conte’s Buick March 86G11 after 86G 04 had been crashed at Road America 500 Miles the 16th August 1987.
31/01/1988 - Daytona 24 hours:
Both cars arrived at Daytona for the 24 hours,with 86G-10 qualifying 18th and retiring in 74th place with a failure in the oil system - Moetti/Roe
28/02/98 - Miami 3 hours:
Their luck got slightly better in the 3 hours of Miami,with 86G-10 qualifying 18th and finishing 12th - Moretti/Roe
19/03/1988 - 12 Hours of Sebring:
Three Buick Hawks arrived for the Sebring 12 hours, 86G-9 and 86G-10 from Moretti's team and the 86G-4 being sold from Moretti to the HP Racing team after its accident at Road America 500 Miles in 1987.
86G-10 started 13th for Momo Corse - Moretti/Roe.
None of the three Buick Hawk cars managed to make it to the finish, though the HP Racing car finished the best of the three, 39th after a fuel system problem, besting the 86G-10 which finished 49th after engine failure.
10/04/1988 - Road Atlanta 500 Kilometres
For the next round of the championship at Road Atlanta, Moretti began to make aerodynamic modifications to their cars, first implemented on 86G-10 (short tail). Moretti/Roe - 28th DNF- 10th fastest qualifier.
Road Atlanta 500 Kilometres would be te last race of 89G09
24/04/1988 - West Palm Beach 3 Hours
Both modified cars were brought for the West Palm Beach 3 hours.
86G09 didn't start.
Result: 21st - DNF - Grid: 16th - 17th fastest qualifier - Moretti/ Roe
30/05/1988 - Lime Rock 150 laps
Moretti then concentrated on simply running the one-car operation with 86G-10, taking the car to the Lime Rock 150 laps, qualifying 11th and
failing to finish the race once more, scored in 20th place - Moretti/ Roe
05/06/1988 - Mid-Ohio 500 Kilometres
Momo Corse's 4-race DNF streak was broken with a drive from 14th on the grid to 10th overall in the Mid-Ohio 500 Kilometres - Moretti/ Roe
03/07/1988 - Watkins Glen 500 Kilometres
86G-10 managed another finish from the Watkins Glen 500 Kilometres, qualifying 11th and placing 9th - Moretti/Roe
17/07/1988 - Road America 500 KM
The teams run of good luck would then run out, suffering a DNF and a 52nd place from a 10th place qualifying - Moretti/Roe
31/07/1988 - Portland 300 Kilometres
Result: 24th - did not finish - Grid: 11th - Moretti
14/08/1988 - Sears Point 300 Kilometres
Result: 27th - Roe/ Phillips listed, never drove: Moretti
Price on request
Directory of World Sportscars Group C and IMSA Cars from 1982 - Michael Cotton
GTP IMSA year Book
Inside IMS’s legendary GTP RACE CARS the prototypes experience - J.A. MARTIN and Michael J. Fuller
Endurance Racing 1982-1991 - Ian Bringgs
Golden Era – the history of Group C & IMSA GTP 1987 to 1993 – Ian Briggs & John Starkey