Members have a facination with the Nurburgring.
Subject: [iwoc] New STI's on the Ring and how Scooby let me down (finally)
From: H. de Graaf
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 14:24:25 +0200
I spent last weekend on the Ring. You all know how it works. You rent a cottage on some vacation resort which happens to be only on a 15 minute drive to the Ring. You do this to satisfy the wife and kid. But serious, they love racing.
Satuday we watched some racing on the new Ring because the old Ring only opened at 17:15. After that we did some very nice laps and I,m really pleased that after 2 and a half years of being the proud owner of Scooby and 8 trips to the Ring I'm finally reaching the limits of Scooby. Unfortunately this also means that I now know that my brakes are really insufficient and that I really have to do something about the understeer.
My Scoob is standard (only strutbrace fitted and K&N filter and backbox changed). Perhaps the brakes have finally after some 45000 km of normal road use including some eighty laps on the Ring and a trackday on Assen (TT circuit) had their best times. The understeer problem may become less with better geometry settings which I'm planning to have done soon. Of course I'm aware that better suspention will solve the problem. The brake problems will be much more expensive to solve and I'm sure I can't afford the best solution.
Sunday was really hot and all parking lots and surroundings were crowded with spectators and people wo wanted to drive. I've never seen the Ring this busy. Unfortunately some accidents happened and the Ring was closed several times which made driving almost impossible. This is why we tried to find some new spectator places at the Ring. We found the other entrance to the Ring at Breidscheid where you can buy half a round or one and a half round. This entrance is mostly used by bikers.
Monday was as we expected the best day. The weather was fine and it was not crowded at all. After some laps we decided to have some coffee and a snack. While sitting at the terras my son shouted that he saw a new Scooby and we quickly went down to the parking lot.
There were 3 new model STI's (blue, silver and white). The white was a type RA. They were all equiped with 4 Brembo brakes, 17 inch wheels, 225x45x17 tires, 5 speed gear boxes, blackened rear windows, small spoilers, airco and they all had the pink STI logo on the front and a WRX STI logo on the back. The white car also had a type RA logo and a roof vent. They were all of course right hand steering and had German license plates.
The new cars don't really look as bad as I had expected. The new head lights look very capable of doing their job although they make the front looks a bit like a Toyota Corolla. The back with the much bigger lights looks too much like the back of a Daihatsu Valera? which is a dreadful car. The cars were driven by 2 German test? drivers and a lot (8?) Japanese guys in suits.
Stangely enough the Japanese were as interested in my car as I was in in theirs. I could not resist and followed the 3 new Scooby's when they went for a lap. They were too fast for me on the first straight (everone can go fast on the straight), I caught up with the first 2 scoobys driven by the Japanese on the second corner at the end of the straight and easily went past them. Although I tried my best I didn't see the German driver in the type RA before entering the parking lot. It probably was my fastest lap ever.
I hope I told you something new. The new models were the first ones I saw in the flesh.
Oops, I almost forgot to tell why Scooby let me down for the first time in 45000 km.
It blew a lightbulb on the way home.
Silver MY '98 Impreza "555" turbo
On the way home from Milan, we finally found the excuse to have a go at the Nordschleife - the old circuit at the Nurburgring, about 30 miles west of Koblenz. The track used to be used for F1, but IIRC it hasn't been used since the seventies for safety reasons - it's so long it's impractical to provide adequate safety cover for the whole thing. So nowadays, it's a public road, albeit a one-way toll road with no speed limit.
Apologies if this is common knowledge to everyone. I know Phil Gardner is our resident 'ring expert so he'll be most bored by this, but then again he should understand my excitement better than anyone too :-)
We checked the schedule (on the www) before we left and found the track was open to the public from 1715 to 1930 on Tuesday - the track is often used for rider/driver training, and by motor companies for chassis development etc (apparently every BMW model has to do 100,000km here before it's signed off).
Turning up at 1745 we found quite a few people already playing: about twenty cars and probably forty bikes. We were the only UK car, but about half the bikes had British plates. A number of Japanese folk appeared to be a Yokohama tyre testing team, with a 911 turbo, Boxster, M3 Evo, and an Espace with enough datalogging equipment to sink a ship.
Surprisingly, there are no formalities at all: Turn up, pay the 17DM fee for a lap (22DM for bikes), put the ticket in the barrier and go. You're on the track ...
... and what a track it is. It rises, it falls. There are blind crests, tight bends, open bends, intricate combinations, tricky cambers, banked sections, everything you could wish for in a test of car and driver (or bike and rider).
Because it's open to the public, you could encounter anything on the track. I've heard of tour buses at 30mph and endurance racers at 170mph ... but there was nothing like that on Tuesday.
On my first lap I managed to overtake a Passat estate, but was blitzed by a small racing saloon car, with a 911 turbo close behind. I managed to hold on to them for a couple of bends but they disappeared, and I didn't see anyone else all lap.
By the time I got back I was really high, I had managed to avoid frightening myself (although Amanda in the passenger seat was gripping the sides a bit in places :-) and the car had only slid when a tight bend had surprised me and I'd gone in with a bit too much brake ... nothing dramatic though.
I went straight back to the desk, got another ticket, and back on to the track. My second lap was much smoother and I felt more confident. I couldn't begin to claim that I remembered any of the bends, but even so I knew that none of the blind crests went into immediate hairpins, and I could remember roughly which sections contained the tricky tight bends.
I didn't see any other cars on my second lap, but I did see some bikes - mostly hugely blurred due to the speed difference! Next time I go I plan to borrow a trailer and take my bike too.
There are a few blow-by-blow guides to the course available on the web, and I'll be studing them in detail before my next trip! I've heard it takes 50 laps to learn the bends and another 50 to learn the lines, but I reckon if I spent a day there I could manage most of it without embarrassing myself too much.
Our highly sub-optimal route back to Calais took 5 hours, which I suspect would be 4 or less with better planning.
I can't beleive it took me so long to get around to going there, but I'm determined it won't be long before I go back. Now we need someone to organise a proper scooby outing there ... how about late September Pete? :-)
Subject: [iwoc] Re: Scooby does Nurburgring
From: Phil Gardner
Date: Thu, 13 Aug 1998 17:13:48 +0100
At Last! Another convert for the Nurburgring!
As Adam rightly mentioned, I have got this Nordschleife thing badly. I have been going there since 1992 (now up to 5 or 6 times a year). There are about 8 hard-core Ringers in our group of friends and most buy Jahreskartes (yearly season tickets) each year - they cost about 300 GBP approx, depending on the exchange rate at the time. It works out much cheaper that buying daily tickets, but break even point is about 50 laps/year. Last year we each did about about 200/250 as I recall.
As far as regulations are concerned, it's officially classed as a 'one-way public toll road'. So normal licenses and insurance are valid. If there is a nasty accident where people get mashed, then the Feds are called as they would be on a public road. Summer weekends are hellish busy, very dangerous but mighty exciting! I would not necessarily recommend admitting on an Insurance Company claim form that the accident happened on the Ring, but it would be legal all the same.
The production car lap record is held by a Caterham Superlight R (basically a 200bhp racing shoe-box on Formula Ford race rubber - hardly 'production'), driven my Robert Nearn (of LeMans fame) and was set earlier this year, at 8'06". One of our boys has a 5litre Chimaera and does about 8'20", but I have yet to crack 8'25" in the Scoob. I have done about 8'15" on the Fireblade, but the lap record on bike is 7'49" so I have still got lots to learn! You can never drive or ride the Ring at 100% as you would undoubtedly become an armco ornament in a short space of time.
They say that you never learn the Ring, you just keep getting faster, so have to learn the new higher-speed lines as you get quicker. The 7'49" bike record was set by Helmut Dahne, who is recognised as the greatest RingMeister the world has seen. He has done over 60,000km round the circuit!! That's nearly 3000 laps! I have only done about 1100, so I've got some catching up to do!
It really is the best circuit to drive in the world. Once you get used to it the challenge to be smooth and fast becomes all captivating. You simply won't find a training discipline more pertinent to Road driving that the Ring. You will never really want to do any UK track days again (other than perhaps Oulton Park or the Brands GP circuit) as they are all just silly roundabouts in comparison to the Nordschleife (although the social side of meeting everyone makes it well worth it).
Take my advice and get the Ring bug before the Greens and Tree-Huggers get it shut down (and believe me they are trying). Nothing can prepare you for the thrill of a REALLY fast lap in the dry (let alone the wet!). You can pay for a fast lap in the Ring-Taxi (now a 540i with full roll-cage, suspension and local BMW test driver) and be scared ****less by the whole experience.
Now look, you've got me all hot and bothered.....
"Just do it" - as Nike say. I am off there again in September on the bike and October in the Scoob. Can't wait!
Yours with withdrawal symptoms (not been since July)
Subject: [iwoc] Nurburg lesson.
From: Anders Skarsten
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998 01:47:36 +0100
Short message to celebrate returning in one piece!
First lap exhilarating potter arround in 12 minutes.
Second lap in Mr Ringa's car gulp :)
Third lap in an incredibly smoothly driven "Mr Porker" Porsche.
Fourth lap (After Phil had been around a couple of times with my friends to get used to it) driven by Phil in my car.
Fifth lap (my second behind the wheel), I was asked to show one of the IXUS biker babes a "how its done in a car". Confidence sky high, track now dry, overtaking left, left and left. As it is a public road after all. Eventually I caught up with a special (all roll cage /stripped out racer). I followed it at a discreet distance, watching his line until disaster! I went in to a tightening chicane too fast for my comfort. The ensuing braking and steering (well that's how I have my car set up for in Grand Turismo) resulted in major fishtailing for 10 seconds (It felt like 10 minutes. This was right in front of a crowd that sit on a bank waiting for idiots like me to mess up. I was terribly embarrassed but also relieved that the car had sorted itself out with a little help from me ;-)
Biker babe said something along the lines of "that was good in a bike we would have died!"
I called it a day after that point when the enormity of my near moment hit me :(
Several coffees later we decided to head back to Calais as it is a long drive and I was already feeling Knackered from the G force that Phil is able to generate and CONTROL :)
The weekend was a great experience, I wish I had more time to see some of the IWOCERS who turned up but as you may imagine thoughts of being sociable disappeared as I was ruminating about my driving.
I hope my photos do justice to the day.
A special thank you to "Reisne" who stopped at the Hotel, and showed us the way, despite Phil and Adams directions we still ended up driving arround in circles until you took charge. (He is German and so has a head start ;-)
Silent quote of the day "Thank F*** I kept it on the track"
Quotable quote by Phil: "Your car is seriously fast, the brakes are brilliant and so is the suspension, Leda C is not just hype. I know we are fast as we (make that read Phil ;-) are really worrying these bikes!" On a dry track :)
Technical reports to follow by Phil, Adam and Amanda I hope.
On Saturday we had a horrible journey towing two bikes down to the Ring, with heavy rain most of the way.
We arrived a quarter of an hour after the circuit had closed, but just in time to see Phil Gardner's R1NGA leaving.
Meeting our bikey friends from the "Ixion" mailing list (Anders, "IXUS" is a little camera!) in a gasthaus in Adenau, they reported that they'd managed one frighteningly slippery lap before adjourning to the Ring museum and thence to the bar.
Sunday dawned with wet roads and overcast, but at least the air felt clearer and the clouds were thin, so there was some promise for the day.
After doing a tentative half a lap from Adenau to the main gate, we met Phil and some of his merry band of ringers, then after another lap and a half we pulled off at the Adenau exit to collect a biker friend who'd never been in a four-wheeler faster than his race transporter. Before we'd done three bends he was whooping with joy, amazed at the liberties you can take in a car on a slippery surface. We were in a lovely balanced slide around the long right hander leading on to the long straight when the phone went ... once on the straight I answered it: it was Anders, lost and looking for the circuit entrance.
By the time I'd dropped Keith back at Adenau and come back to the main gate (the track now beginning to dry out), I spotted a swarm of people, at the centre of which I could just make out the blue bulging arches of the 22B. Anders was strapping into R1NGA to observe a master at work. I hurried over to book a lesson myself, and to get the keys for the 22B. Curiously, Anders handed them over :-)
Dispersing the crowd, I closed the bonnet and then Amanda & I got into the goldfish bowl. Turning the key produced a lot of electronic beeping and flashing, but no engine ... eventually we sorted it and got it started.
The 22B: Compared to our 96 UK car, the clutch is sudden and the steering quick and nicely weighted. The LEDA suspension feels just the same as ours though. Going through the gate and onto the track, I was disappointed that it didn't feel faster. The best thing about the engine is the torque which, with the gearing, makes it a lot more tolerant of poor gear choices. The grip is superb, but the thing which stands out the most isn't to do with the 22B at all: Those Brembos are definitely Scooby Accessory of the Year!
The suspension doesn't seem to be set correctly, as the scraping of wheel on arch was a frequent sound during the lap ... it needs some combination of raising and stiffening.
Amanda drove a lap in the 22B too, and loved the steering & the shorter gearing. The brakes caught her out a couple of times - she tends to brake longer and softer than me, and frequently found herself having to speed back up to corners.
By now I was starting to recognise bits of the track. For the first couple of laps, it's very tentative indeed, as every blind crest and bend may hide potential demons. In another couple of laps, you can recognise the approach of the scariest areas of the track, freeing your attention to concentrate on other bits. A couple of laps more, you're not just recognising your favourite bends when they're about to happen, but remembering them, anticipating them, and starting to get the car set up to take them properly. As the laps go by, the bends before and after your faves join to make short sections which you do well ... and so it goes on. (Phil's done well over a thousand laps - I'm sure he's still learning, but I don't know what!)
By the time I joined Phil in R1NGA I'd driven and passengered about a dozen laps, so I could concentrate on lines rather than being surprised where the bends go.
It was a very revealing experience. I'd expected a thrilling ride, but I'd forgotten the Golden Rule: "the best drivers make it all look easy". The whole thing flowed beautifully, and like all truly good drivers it felt slow, despite being whole minutes faster than my best. The most marked difference was in the way Phil's intimate knowledge took us through sections flat out in fourth, where I'd be nervously changing to third and braking because I had no idea what lay over that crest.
When we got back, Anders was heading out with Nancy, who'd been on the back of her partner's bike when he'd crashed two miles into their first lap on Saturday afternoon ... compared to that, Anders' little slide in the scooby was nothing to be alarmed about :-)
Meanwhile, Amanda had first been taken out in the 911 Carrera of one of Phil's band of Ring-veteran friends, and then she took him out for an observed run in our scooby. She was told: "nice drive: no slides, no scares, and only a couple of places where we'd've crashed in anything other than an Impreza"!
The rain returned during the afternoon, and we tried to practice the principles we'd been told, although the details of markers for turn-in points, and aiming for distinctive trees to show the line over blind crests were still a bit advanced for us.
I drove my first lap without a passenger, and without the calming influence I overdid it almost immediately, finding myself at a tricky right/left/ right/left section (Hatzenbach) with too much speed, on the wrong line, and with an M3 in my mirrors. I had to lift and brake in mid-corner, causing the M3 to do the same, and the next thing I saw was that he'd spun. Oops, sorry.
On another lap, we were gaining on a Dutch scooby (a green one) on the approach to Adenauer Forest - a very deceptive and difficult S-bend over the crest of a hill. We'd just overtaken a people-carrier on the way up the hill, and crested the rise to find the track blocked by the scooby: evidently he'd spun and was *reversing* back on to the track!
On my last lap Sunday evening, I was thrilled to discover I'd improved *so* much that I was catching R1NGA on a difficult downhill section (Wehrseifen). As I overtook I saw that Phil was in the passenger seat, giving another lesson ... well, I didn't *really* think I was that good :-)
In fact I felt pretty bad ... just after I'd overtaken, I made a hash of the left-hand hairpin *yet again* ...
On Sunday night we had a great dinner with Phil & his mates at their home- from-home in Nurburg. A nice bunch of people ... and they don't care how many wheels are driven, or how many wheels a thing's got, as long as it goes like stink and they can use it at the Ring :-)
(Phil - what will your new bike be? "R2NGA"? "R1NGB"? "R1NGY"? :-)
Monday morning was beautiful, with a crystal clear sky. Our hotel was ideally nestled in a hillside, overlooking picturesque Eifel valley panorama with the sun bringing out dazzling colours in the autumn leaves, and wisps of low-lying mist affording the odd glimpse of valley floor.
It was bloody cold too though, but the sun had melted the ice on the screen by the time we'd had breakfast. The track didn't open until noon, so we went to the excellent Ring museum, in the GP complex.
Amanda did our first lap of the morning, and I was in exactly the right frame of mind for my go.
More than anything else, it's that lap which will sustain me until our next trip (around Easter). I was relaxed, it felt fast yet smooth, I was in tune with the track and the car, my lines felt good ... I haven't uploaded the GPS track yet, but I expect that'll be by far my fastest lap of the weekend.
The standard of driving on Monday was a lot higher than Sunday. On Sunday we were easily overtaking potentially very fast, flash cars, but on Monday they were all out of sight and even supposedly inferior cars were blitzing us. It makes me laugh when I read stuff on this list and others about whether this car's better than that one ... and now I have this mental image of the Clio which passed me like I was standing still, and then went on to pass the 911 ahead of me. The bikes which had been nervously wobbling round on the wet and/or drying track Sunday were literally making up for lost time on Monday: I vividly remember a bike overtaking us (approaching Kesselchen), where my crappy old car was wheezing up the steep hill around 90mph and he flashed by at 140+ and then swept into the left hander under full power. I'm *so* looking forward to next spring!
Phil generously spent a lot of time with us on Monday, first taking us in R1NGA for a medium-pace lap with full commentary (where "medium pace" means going round a corner sliding four tyres, and calmly taking a hand off the wheel to point to a turning marker). Then we each drove a lap with Phil passengering and talking us through, and then we each drove a lap following R1NGA at a suitable pace. The other memory I'm going to keep for a while is the last three miles of that lap, as the speed gradually increased and I stuck doggedly to R1NGA's tail as it swung from side to side in the esses. Bloody fantastic.
All too soon we had to leave to get the ferry and we had another shitty trailer-towing journey back, the highlight of which was seeing a bit of wood in my lane on the M25. I forgot the trailer was there and swerved to avoid it, then watched in horror as the trailer fishtailed and tilted crazily from wheel to wheel, with the bikes swinging around on top trying to capsize it ... I'm not an experienced enough tower to say whether the scooby handled it well, but the trailer's owner in our back seat was very, very impressed.
I was disappointed that of all the UK scooby owners, only Anders and I made the trip. After the positive response I got from my Catalunya report, I thought folk realised what driving pleasure there is to be had outside Surrey ... but I expect you all had nice weekends too, eh? :-)
Subject: [iwoc] Weekend R1NGA Report (longish...)
From: Phil Gardner
Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 12:48:56 +0100
What a weekend it was. Glad to see that everyone got back safely - at least now there are more of you who understand why I rave about the Nurburgring....
Saturday ferry was delated due to the Force-6 blowing up the channel! Breakfast stayed down, but the restaurant was strangley quiet.
Set off for the Autoroute in buckets of rain that stayed with us right to the Nordschleife. Intersting to note that not even 4WD can prevent aquaplaning, but it sure as hell makes it easy to handle. The Lotus's and 911's with us were suffering on those badly drained Belgian roads.
We passed A&A's car and trailer fairly early on and we were at the trackside by mid afternoon.
Having spent many many weekends at the Ring, we knew that our first few laps should be cautious, lest any changes made to the track surface since last visit should catch you out. Sure enough one or two sections had been repaired and the bitumen was still new enough to leave the track slippery for quite a distance afterwards in the wet. Also a couple of badly worn areas have become even more slippery and great caution was needed to allow time for our mental ECU's to remap themselves!
Since last time, I have fitted STi 4-pot calipers and discs, set the geometry more aggressively to cut understeer and changed tyres to Bridgestone S-02 Pole Positions (sticky ones).
First impressions are that the brakes are much improved - never once did they fade or feel anything less than capable, but they are still mighty spongy when really pushed. The Ring drops over 1000 feet on the first 7km and with 3 or so people in the car, the brakes take a hammering. It's not like on a short circuit, although long, smooth and firm braking pushes any brake setup to the upper end of its limits. I'm sure that a bleed will get things back to normal now though. The 99 cars will be a revelation to everyone I'm sure.
New geometry combined with S-02 PP's produce simply unimaginable grip in the wet. I soon got used to it, but all my passengers we agast at the G's generated even during torrential rain by this setup. In the dry they still hold on as expected, although 3 hard laps got then hot enough to start really moving around. Well recommended though.
Part of the grip characteristics come about from the new geometry settings and the current Prodrive suspension setup (Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers). At present the car runs 1.7 degrees -ve camber / 1.6mm toe-in on the FRONT, with parallel rear toe-in.
Overall I was very pleased with the way the car went this trip...... .....right up until I drove the 22B!!!!
We met up with Anders, A&A and a few of the LEXUS (I know, I know!!) mob on Sunday morning. Anders already had a fag on and had the shakes after his first lap on his own!!! This is a perfectly normal reaction for drivers new to the Ring and shows a healthy respect for the place. Those that finish Lap 1 on a confidence high usually need pulling out of the Armco by Lap 3!! I offered Anders a lap in my car which he happily accepted. One of his friends took a close-up picture as he fastened his belt - he looked a worried man to say the least! He asked if he could hold on!?! No problem.....
.... I think he took his second breath about 4km into the lap though!!! I could tell that he was feeling more confident as he started to talk to me again after about 5 minutes, so things must have been going well.
We had a spirited lap, although I appreciate that it might have been difficult for him to pay too much attention to the turn-in, apex and exit points of all 122 bends!
But he must have been fairly happy as he very kindly let me have the keys to his 22B for 3 or 4 laps. I am very grateful to Anders for this as it was quite an eye-opener for me as to what LEDA/Brembo have going for them in the Ring environs. Observations;
1) Everybody looks at you in a 22B! You feel you need to put on a good show.
2) The clutch in the 22B is OK provided you use good revs and slip it a lot. I stalled it as I tried to move off first time! See point 1 above!
3) First lap was 4-up and the car felt nicely torquey and revs more freely than mine. This is probably due to the lower gearing as much as anything else, but it's certainly easy to rev the engine to make good progress. It sounds noisier inside, although we both run the same exhausts.
4) The LEDA suspension feels totally different to my Prodrive setup. The damping is undoubtedly taughter and perhaps the spring rates are different (Pete C - any info?), but the car feels very well sorted to me. Interestingly Adams' car with a broadly similar (might even be the same) setup feels almost identical and from the passenger seat felt to handle similarly. The cornering composure and general feel is wonderful - more so than on mine. Grip from the big 235 P-Zero's is high as you would expect, but there was none of the twichiness and threatened snap-oversteer that I had expected. Moreover the car could be drifted very nicely under power irrespective of the number of passengers. The only problem (which is adjustable anyway I suspect) one both LEDA cars was grounding of wheelarches against tyres. The Ring is fairly extreme though, and it only occurred under serious provocation. Quality suspension.
5) BREMBO Brakes. These are seriously good bits of Kit! They have all the stopping power you could ever want and they always felt the same, regardless of level of abuse. The only point worth making is that the 22B (like the other Type-R's) doesn't have ABS, which gives the pedal masses of firm feel anyway. I really like firm brakes and I would have no concerns in ditching ABS for the improved feel that you get. I suspect that I would think very highly indeed of the standard STi 4-pots without ABS at the Ring anyway, but the Brembos really do cut the mustard.
Overall the 22B was excellent at the Ring. I never imagined that I would get the opportunity to try one there without buying one first, but it has now given me a difficult decision to make. I MIGHT have the offer of a UK one (I have the "we'll let you know" letter from Sam Burton), but the price will be the final decision maker. I have set my heart on an STiV (undoubtedly with LEDA B and possibly Brembos), but if the UK 22B's come in low as some rumours suggest, then I don't really know!! Decisions decisions!
My thanks to Anders for being so trusting as to let me drive both him and his friends round the worlds most dangerous racetrack in his pride and joy - at speed in the wet!. Cheers matey! Thanks to A&A for their compliments - I used to lecture programming courses for a living, so teaching is what makes me tick anyway! I'm very glad that you've all caught the bug! We do about 6 trips a year now, which makes the summer just fly past and improves your German no end.
See you there again next time.
David Anumudu wrote:
Now thats a story in itself!, tell us more Phil !
Well it was like this.....
This was the year before last I think and one of our summer Ring trips coincided with Ferrari's launch of the 550 Maranello. The whole of Nurburg was filled with Ferrari's (apparently mostly owned by old, fat but undeniably rich blokes with young girlfriends/wives!!!) and all the accommodation was full. Ferrari had booked the adjascent GP track for the launch and were allowing propective punters to drive a fleet of the new cars round the short GP track. This they did happily for most of the weekend.
Predictably I guess, Ferarri had shipped in Fast Eddie and Schuey to entertain the really important members of the larger Mafia families present. They were doing demo laps of the short GP circuit in order to lever open the wallets of the very well healed and were putting on a very good show (we could see from the old Start/Finish point on the Nordschleife and the 'Boys' were doing the biggest full-smoke powerslides you have ever seen around the top bend on the Grandstand straight!!)
At about lunchtime on Sunday, a massive crowd appeared at the Start point on the Nordschleife and we soon sussed on that one of the Boys was about to take a customer round the proper Nurburgring circuit. He disappeared in a cloud of smoke and flash guns, only to appear in considerably less than 9 minutes rounding the last right hander in a cloud of revs and smoke. He pulled up to let his passenger come round (!) and I took my cue to don leathers and helmet, just in case his passenger was not yet convinced!!
Well sure as eggs is eggs, he drove up to the pay barrier (manned by Parky with a leather money pouch in those days), the seas parted and off he went again - but this time with yours truly nailed to his bumper. Now I ought to point out that I had a huge power-to-weight advantage at this point, so I was confident that I could give him a run for his money (130bhp in 185kg bodes well against 450ish in about 1.5 tonnes).....
From the start down through Hatzenbach, over Flugplatz and up onto Schwedenkreuz we were still very much in contact. Schwedenkreuz is very fast and bumpy and the Firblade was indicating about 165mph and I was feeling decidedly nervous. I knew that the next few km's were down hill, but I hoped that I could straight-line a lot of the circuit to keep up with him. I managed this up to about the 7km mark, when he obviously got cheesed off have Mr Fireblade on his tail and just f***ed off into the distance. To this day I have never seen a car take Bergwerk (a very tight right hander where Niki Lauda crashed in 76) quite that fast. He just disappeared and there was nothing I could do about it!!!
When I got back to the finish he was just turning off down the exit ramp to go back to the GP track. By all accounts he had taken at least a minute out of me between that right hander and the finish!!! He'll go far I reckon, might even make World Champion one day !!! ;-)
Later that evening, we were swaping stories about 'How I let Schuey go!!" and the like. I thought my tale was good but my brothers was better. Appears that he had left the start a few minutes earlier than Schuey, moreover he had no idea that he had even turned up on the Nordschleife. He is very smooth and fast on the Ring and was well into a fast lap. He recalls a car coming up behind on a fast section but assumed that he would lose it on the uphill stretch as usual (he has a ratty CBR600, but it's still fast in a straight line). Car was unable to overtake as it was uphill and Brother was getting annoyed, as at every turn it loomed into mirror-view again......
.....so after a few slower bends he had just about had enough of "Mr Pushy" up his chuff and waved him past with a shake of the fist and a swear under his breathe. You can imagine how his "The day I REALLY let Schuey Past Me On The Track Cos He Couldn't Overtake" story goes!!!
Two of our other mates were on a lap at the same time as Schuey and they keep reminding us that he never even caught them up!!! Nothing to do with the 9 minute head start you gave him - eh boys?
I have been privileged to witness a genius at work. I'll be cheering for him next year as well...........
Subject: [iwoc] Sand, snow, sea, sun, San Miguel and...............serious driving
From: Dr Anders Skarsten
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 02:14:29 +0100
Well we made it back.
I will return next year :)
All credit to the organisers (mainly Peter Croney of course).
It was a fantastic experience, as will be confirmed by "Bubbles", "Iceman", "Eagle", "Torpo" (as in torpid, as she slept through most of the driving), "He's alive" ( as in Brian Blessed stating incredulously that Flash Gordon is still alive, was he a New Zealander?).
The drive down was an excuse to go as fast as possible. Fables of Tortoises and Hares are appropriate as we overtook "revenge of the White Van Man" 8 times!
I ran out of petrol after 131miles in one tank of 60 L SUL.
The last 10 miles were at 56 MPH as the expected petrol station did not
Still it showed what team spirit was available. A 30 mile round trip summoned by GSM mobile to Peter Croney and John Stewart, saved the night. Not a cross word was muttered (to my face ;-) when we limped into a petrol station 6 KM down the road, an hour later!!!!! In the mean time it was raining cats and dogs and was 3am :(
There were 2 Psychiatrists in my car, if we had access to an approved social worker we would have brought a new meaning to the phrase "committed driver!"
I was in an exceptionally fast group, neither Ian Cook or myself were dawdling and yet the others in standard UK turbos left us within seconds, occasionally I would put in a fast section but not when overtaking with blind faith of "clear, clear, clear "was required. In such ultra fast sections my bloody P Zeros would let go after 15-20 mins.
I nearly crashed "oh shit this is going to be expensive".
Ian nearly crashed "oh shit we are going to die"...................after this episode we turned into Sunday drivers.
However back on decent tarmac the tyres were fine.
I am not sure how much of the problem with my tyres was that I was not prepared to take racing lines around blind bends when they were being called as "clear", as the system on the walkie talkies is not in-fallible.
We remain grateful for the supreme driving effort of Peter Croney and the others that lead. I remain surprised that one of our party was not hospitalised for the obvious side effects of his previous lobotomy. However he was great to talk to in the evenings :)
The high lights were not crashing.
The positive high light was tearing up a stage 15 minutes after it was closed, the confused Policeman was suitably bafled by John Stewart and let us through, baring other cars.
In this atmosphere I put in my fastest driving on the tail of PC, charging through the stage to the roar of thousands of spectators, The best bit was a tight hair pin with high banking of at least 40M. It was a sea of brightly (hell they were foreigners ;-) dressed spectators, whistling, sirens blaring and more photo flashes than a press launch of a focus ;-)
I could see it was very tight so I heel and toed down into first and floored the go pedal. Instead of the back flying round the front ran wide as the apex was very dirty from roadside debris scattered by real rally drivers in the course cars, clipping the apex and using the edge of the tarmac as an anchor point to pull their cars round.
Time ran rather slowly as I realised that I was going to stuff my car in the middle of a WRC rally stage, infront of several hundred cheering rally fans, however lifting off the go pedal tightened the line and the chassis snapped round still on PC's tail. With the low down grunt and close ratio box I was able to keep up with him for the rest of the spectator section. It was only 1 mile later that the car decided on near terminal understeer at a moderate speed. Thankfully on a 12 foot wide road with a mountain to hit rather than "500 foot of air".
Later that day the tyres let go within 3 minutes of setting off, after this extremely frightening incident in which Ian Cook's driving saved the day we took it easy.
In fact I was so scared that we decided to forgoe day 3 and enjoyed Barcelona instead. Even with Ian in the back of PC's car they were still on the pace marvelling as to how Johnathon aka "Flash Gordon" was still alive after so many years of being a "living on the edge KIWI". He set an astonishing pace, in his 5 door. "I haven't died yet!"
1. Well organised
3. Excuse to drive fast
4. Improve your car control
5. Encourages you to think about life/health insurance
6. English roads are now definite licence losers
7. Anti testosterone tablets are required for at least 3 weeks upon return to the UK
You get to see the rally/drivers in an informal setting as well as at work.
I will not miss this event in the future, however the S02 performance advantage over 1000 mile P Zeros left me feeling frightened as they gave up suddenly whereas S02 have never let me down for the last 12,000 miles.
You go as fast as you feel appropriate, in a standard UK car there is no way that I could have been in the same group as the ultra fast boys.
I think they wanted me there for the crowds ;-) Owning a 22B is not just about speed it does cause a stir, maybe I am just a EGO maniac after all and I should stop trying to learn how to exploit the car ;-)
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