Nürburgring (25 August 2002)
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A quickie, this one. I didn't have any fixed plans for this
weekend, but on Sunday morning I decided to head to the Ring and
arrived a little past 14.00 hours. Things were reasonably quiet and
there were no familiar faces in sight. Car-of-the-day was again the
147, if only because the 964 hadn't had its tyres replaced yet :-)
Upon arrival I spotted two Ferrari's (OK, they're difficult to
overlook): a 512 and a 360. The 360 came with an entourage: a guy with
a mobile phone, two girls in folding chairs that matched the car and a
Mercedes (SL? Didn't pay it much attention.) support vehicle. The
image was slightly spoiled by the fact that one of the chairs still
had its original plastic packing material around the tubes of the
frame. And by the conspicuous absence of a barbecue ;-)
The new camcorder got its first test under real-life circumstances (i.e., at the Ring). I'd tried it out on "normal" roads and it seemed to work well, but as we all know: there's no substitute for the Ring :) I haven't decided on a mounting system yet, so I just used a lot of tape to keep it in place on the dashboard. Worked pretty well, except that it wanted to focus on the dead bugs on the windshield sometimes :(
The first two laps were reasonably quiet. Lots of warning signs for oil spills though. Not too many other people around, so things were very relaxed. I was passed by two dutch bikers at Antoniusbuche, but caught them up again at T13. They were obviously paying close attention to their mirrors and waved me by. Thanks guys! At the end of the day I realised that there were quite a few bikers who clearly indicated they had seen me (with one notable exception, though...). It makes a world of difference when you're behind the wheel of a car wondering if (s)he's seen you or not. Some of the bikers that overtook me even managed to free up a hand or foot to wave thanks when I indicated and made room. It's much appreciated!
On the third lap I took Euan round, to remind him how life is when you're doing 10 mins plus BTG. He told me the Ring Mini had crashed on one of those oil spills. I'd seen the tracks he made just before Hohe Acht. Apparently a certain high-powered yellow Porsche dropped the oil. As a result of the many oil spills, lots of bikers had come to grief too. A crash at Schwedenkreuz looked rather serious, and when I got back the track was closed. I found out that Martin's Caterham had developed an ignition problem, so Martin had decided to use the closure to hike to Adenauer Forst and do some spectating.
When the closure was over I did two more laps. During the first I was overtaken by the F360! Wonderful sound. A bit less wonderful was the bike who overtook me before Schwedenkreuz, only to slam the brakes on as if he'd suddenly remembered that he'd lost his wallet at Hatzenbach or something equally urgent. Anyway, the 147 earned some more affection by making it, and lost some affection because it lost its composure while doing so, even though I kept it on the grey stuff. It made me think many happy thoughts about the braking performance of the 156 Selespeed, now in car heaven. A silver Exige overtook me while going down to Breidscheid. Nice car :) Going up Ex-Mühle is torture in the 147: the revs drop more than 2000 rpm when going from 2nd to 3rd. Which means that even if you stretch 2nd 200rpm past the normal shifting point, it still dies on you when you go to third :(
Lap five of the day I started out behind an Opel Kadett who did some interesting (but useless) weaving about after passing the bridge. Carroll Smith has some interesting comments about this: "This nonsense is supposed to warm the tires prior to the start of the race. What all of this unchoreographed and undignified butt wiggling actually accomplishes (besides the odd accident) is to satisfy the drivers' need to do something constructive during the pace lap. What it does not do is effectively warm the tires." Also note that Michael Schumacher doesn't do it, and he's usually reasonably quick during the first lap of a race :) During this lap I found out that Fuchsröhre is flat in the 147 :) And so is the stretch from the exit of Karusell to Hohe Acht. I had an interesting long-range duel with a Citroen Xantia on this lap. He started at the same time, disappeared from view before I got to Hohenrain, but I caught him up again at Hohe Acht. At that point he managed to overtake a biker. I must say that I'm grateful to that biker, because he made the recording of this lap into one of the best in my collection. In case you've seen Cossiekiller at the Ring: my footage is almost as good as his "Biker Nutter" lap :-) The guy is on the line only by accident, even if there's a clear view of the entire next corner. It's almost as if he's taking a defensive line to make overtaking impossible. At the straight bits he floors it (naturally; can't let the spectators see a bloody slow car overtake you, now can you?). Still, I manage to carry enough speed out of Brünnchen II to have to lift not to go beside him. A similar thing occurs at Eiskurve, but there he takes the defensive line again. On entry to Pflanzgarten we again see an interesting line: I'm no bike rider, but to me it looks as if he's preparing to turn left... Again I carry more speed, this time so much that we're now side by side. At which point I do some quick thinking and back off before we get to his (!) turn-in point for Pflanzgarten III by giving the brakes a short dab. Which is just as well, because I got the distinct impression that he'd managed not to see me. Finally, over the big jump I could generate enough pace to go past safely. The Xantia was home for dinner by that time ;-) I had a quick look around to see if I could spot the biker afterwards and ask him how he felt his lap had gone and to give him a safety leaflet, but I couldn't find him.
In the meantime, Euan had given Rob a passenger lap. Rob then insisted on returning the favour by taking Euan round (in Euan's car). In all likelihood they were the two luckiest guys around that day, because Rob took the 'taking round' bit literally by spinning the car at Breidscheid. Somehow they didn't hit a wall or the armco... Again there was no camcorder running :-((
After a break to let things cool down a bit I took Euan out for two laps (his car needed some cooling down). By that time I had a pretty good idea how fast most corners could be taken in the 147, so the tyres were squealing a lot. This was helped by the newish front tyres (Pirelli) that squeal more than any tyre I've ever had under any car. Good grip and very progressive, though. We started out behind a local Polo and Mk.1 Escort, both kitted up with roll cage, big exhaust and loads of other stuff. By the time we entered T13 the Polo came flying past, and I let the Escort by to avoid spoiling their private race. At the entry to Schwedenkreuz we had caught up to the Escort again, following him through Aremberg by doing a 100-yard drift (estimate by Euan) starting when braking for Aremberg and all the way through to the exit >:-). Euan put it nicely: "This car has no power whatsoever, but it's sliding all over the place." You can blame Alfa for the "no power" bit, but I'm afraid I'm to blame for the "sliding" bit :-))
The Escort apparently didn't know the track very well, which he neatly combined with not looking in his mirrors. As a result, he nearly had two accidents in 30 seconds: first by braking in the middle of the road up Fuchsröhre, almost ending up with a biker through his rear window, than by turning in on the same biker coming into Adenauer Forst (nice display of bike control by the biker!). I'm glad my passenger liked the near continous tyre squeal and the mid-corner gear changes (without interrupting tyre squeal, of course) :-) Oh, did I mention that Mutkurve is flat in the 147? Especially after being passed at the entry by a 964RS that's going 50km/h faster? The final feat of the Escort was to almost crash into the 964RS, but that's not really visible on the camcorder :( Brünnchen II was nice too. At Pflanzgarten III we had a bit of a flashback, thanks to an Audi quattro braking right on the line. He made up for it by not seeing two GT3's intending to blast past both of us, though ;-)
The second lap with Euan contained lots of squealing too, e.g. at Aremberg. By the time we came to the Karussell Euan was starting to feel a little sorry for the car :-) The lap was even fairly quick at 10.00 BTG. Not bad considering the 10.30 I did last time out.
After all this low-speed excitement I was glad to occupy Euan's passenger seat for two laps in order to experience some serious speed again. We had two nice laps, the second of which was particularly smooth. Quite a bit less tyre squeal than I'm used to in that car, but at least as quick, I think :) I really enjoyed it. I then did two final laps, bringing my lap total to 37. One of those I managed 9.57 on an almost entirely clear track, clocking a record-breaking 160km/h indicated up Kesselchen :-))
On the way back home I swung by Sliders to deliver a video tape containing the Ring Taxi lap and some other interesting laps to Bren. Which came in handy, as he'd forgotten to record that day's superbike race. I hope everybody staying there enjoyed it :)
My apologies to those who read this far: I may have gone overboard a
little on the vidcaps. New toy :-) Unfortunately I didn't do still
photography on this trip: I had too much fun driving, and not enough