Nürburgring (8 June 2002)
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|During this trip I made my first laps in the 964. Driving a 964
around the ring is quite different from driving an Alfa 147. The main
difference: throttle control is a very real issue in a 964, where the
147 is very good-natured and will go where you point it, almost
regardless of what you do with your right foot :-)
Because of a weather forecast predicting doom and gloom in the weather department, I decided not to book an overnight stay. In case of bad weather I could then just stay at home (and fall asleep during F1 qualifying). However, saturday morning came, and the weather was beautiful. The drive to the ring was uneventful, relatively quick, and over some nice roads after taking the turn-off at Euskirchen.
To get a feel for what was going on, I started out by going to Brünnchen to watch the cars, bikes and busses go by while eating a late breakfast. After breakfast I dug out my trusty camera and took some pictures of the usual suspects (ringers whose car I recognize, Porsches, and other cars I find interesting), and some rather less usual suspects: a whole procession of Ford Ka's, in all colors of the rainbow, some very standard, some with lots of plastic added to the basic shape. When it was approaching 15.00 hours, traffic seemed to lighten, and I decided to go out for some laps myself.
First order of business was to remove all the bugs that had been squashed against the windshield during the drive over. There's a theory that bugs are too light to smash into the windshield: they are supposed to be blown over the car in the airflow. I don't know who came up with that theory, but it must be someone who has never driven a fast car in spring on a German autobahn :-)
Enjoying a clear field of vision again, I made sure the VCR was running. Fixing a bullet camera in a 964 isn't all that easy. If you tape it on the dash it vibrates a lot due to the stiff suspension. Unfortunately, the dash is the only simple location to place the cam. For this session I experimented with the bullet cam tied to the headrest of the passenger seat with an old belt. I've just looked at the recording, and this worked very well. The angle of view is natural, and there's hardly any vibration. The downside is that you can't take a passenger and use the cam at the same time.
The first lap was uneventful for the most part, but exciting enough because of the higher speeds. Especially through Fuchsröhre, up Ex-Mühle and up Kesselchen. The honor of "moment of the day" goes to Kallenhard. I was a bit too light and too early on the brakes, resulting in turning in too little, and running a meter wider than intended. Enough to provoke an "Oh shit" feeling, even though I tend to leave big margins, being inexperienced at the ring. Which is a good thing, as my margin was large enough to accomodate the error. Still, it's not a good feeling if you realize at the apex that your comfortable margin is going to be eroded down to not much at all.
Coming back from lap number 1, I decided to go for lap 2 straight away. On this lap, Ben was right behind me out of the gate. I was ahead of him through T13 and moved over before Hatzenbach, earning a big 'thank you' wave. Now I knew from my experience in the passenger seat that Ben is really quick. Driving behind him and seeing him dancing though Hatzenbach made me realize just how quick. Bloody fast, I would say. Anyway, by running full throttle during the straightish bits I made up a little ground, only to see him disappear in the distance round the bends. Good fun, though. For some reason the VCR decided to quit recording and rewind the tape just after Hohe Acht :(
Giving the car a well-earned rest was combined with delivering another picture to Ben. He didn't get a chance to pay me yet (two passenger laps), but that will keep :). I also chatted with some known ringers and met some ringers I only knew by name (Simon Bradley for one). During this period there were several closures, some of which looked quite serious, judging by the length of the closure and the activity of the ambulance.
A soon as the track opened, lots of people were going out. This included Niek, but he didn't go very far. In a friendly gesture he backed up his car so as to be out of the way of a group picture being taken. Nothing wrong with that, except he forgot to check his rearview mirror, causing him to run over a bike that had stopped right behind him. The biker jump off (can't blame him, he might have been crushed otherwise), the bike fell to the ground, people were shouting to warn Niek, who stopped before doing serious damage to the bike. It looked as though there was a small scratch on the fuel tank and two broken indicators. Still, it's a lot of hassle, and it's not something to make you feel good.
When traffic conditions became a bit less hectic (i.e., there were no more traffic jams at the gates) I did a third lap, with Euan as passenger. This involved removing the bullet cam and moving it to the dash. The recording is pretty decent, but not a good as when using the headrest as a mounting point. Traffic was fairly light, except for a number of bikers. Some very quick, some pretty slow. A somewhat less elegant moment happened while making room for a red NSX: a Mercedes coupe had hidden behind it and went for an unexpected overtake, making me grateful for driving with relatively large margins for the second time that day.
Euan then took me round in his BMW, staying on Ben's tail all the way round. It's a pity he didn't have a camera installed, as it was a very good lap despite quite a bit of traffic now and then. It was interesting to see some different approaches to various corners. All in all a very entertaining lap: lots of speed (nicely controlled) and a car with similar speed just ahead on the track. It certainly would have been a fitting addition to Joerund's site.
After coming back I took pictures of some classic cars: a Porsche 356, a very old Mercedes (I'm not good at identifying classic cars, but his looked like 1950's or thereabouts), ditto Alfa, and ditto Unknown (which looked even older). This bunch was followed by another classic: a Ferrari 308, just like Magnum P.I. used to drive.
Anders showed up as well. This is his GT3 parked next to another impressive 911:
Having finished with that, my car alarm went off. The cause: a 993 had
backed right into it, hitting the right side rear bumper. First
reaction: unprintable. Second reaction: oh shit, not again. Read my
first running report
for the 'again' part... The guy tried a bit of a steamroller move on
me, playing down the damage (to my car, naturally), and being a
bit reluctant to report the incident to his insurance. Which doesn't
matter one bit to me, as long as I get the money. Of course he didn't
have a European Accident Form with him. Of course I did have one with
me. As I couldn't care a rat's ass about his insurance, I made sure I
got to see his driver's license and the car's registration. I also
ignored the steamroller by producing the accident form and starting to
fill it in. After taking a picture of his car (with license plate
nicely in the shot) and a picture of the damage to my car.
As a fitting counterpoint to this crap, the speaker announced that the track would be closed for the rest of the day, which is probably why, after completing the paperwork, I had the weird experience of looking around and not see any ringers around (except Joerg, of course). I then followed Joerg's Elise to the Fuchsröhre. A bunch of tables were reserved for the ringers dinner, and within a few minutes everybody started showing up. Chatting about this, that and everything else with Euan, ThoRSten, Niek, Joerg, Ben and some others resulted in a happy end to the day after all.
Some of the highlights: Niek's brakes didn't fade, which he solved by warping them. Sabine kissed Euan. Ben had heard a good story about a guy with a McLaren F1 who complained of fuel starvation on his daily commute. Turns out the guy had had fuel starvation problems twice every day ... while doing 231 mph. Must be one hell of a commute... Sabine pulled out some extra-quality schnapps at the end of the evening. Walter was otherwise engaged. To counterbalance Anders' statement (OK, there was a smiley behind it) that "women can't drive" there was a sign (in German) on the ladies' stating "Women drive better", to which somebody had added "busses and trains" :-)
I started the drive home a little before midnight, leaving Niek with the prospects of sharing (at least) a taxi with Emma, and getting to drive Euan's 328i and the GT3 of Anders on sunday. On the A57 I verified that, despite a damaged rear bumper, the 964 still did 260+ km/h, and that 260+ is quicker than the BMW who came out of a 130 zone one car ahead of me could manage :-)