Nürburgring (31 October 2004)
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|Another free day, another Ring trip. As a bonus, the clock was
turned back thanks to the change-over to winter time, allowing
me to head for the Ring one hour earlier than usual without
losing any sleep. The roads were still quiet, and progress was
swift. Apart from the one bit where a toe-rag decided to block
me before going into a construction zone.
The weather was decidedly foggy, which added to the slightly dreamy and mystic ambience.
Despite the fog thickening a bit when I neared the Eifel mountains, I still did a reasonable average speed of a very fitting 147km/h from my doorstep to the end of the A1 near Blankenheim.
Things took a turn for the worse quite quickly after that, though. The cooling system of the SquealMobile had been acting up a bit lately, and the temperature gauge went all the way into the red quite quickly, accompanied by one of those annoying buzzing sounds. Before I could find a safe place to pull over, the temperature was coming down again. A quick check confirmed that
Time for the mechanics to check the waterpump (again), the thermostat, or the gauge... During the remainder of the trip the temperature would sometimes drop a few degrees, then come back up again to the normal 90 degrees. All in all enough to make me decide to refrain from driving the SquealMobile on the Ring. Wouldn't want it to bust a hose/fitting/pump/whatever on the Ring, even though not many boikers were around to slip over lost coolant.
One more pre-Ring pic: this Volvo decided that tailgating me was a way to make me go faster. As I was already close to the speed limit (ahem...), I decided to slow down a bit to take his picture. At least he gave me a bit more room after that.
The parking lot was nice and quiet (apart from Karl, of course), and contained some interesting machinery (as always).
Ross went out for another lap, and Karl decided that the toilet paper at the Grüne Hölle wasn't up to bastard standards, so he went to Bastard Towers instead. The quick way, of course, because when you gotta go, you gotta go.
Simon was supposed to be around, but I didn't see his car anywhere. With Karl and Ross gone and no car to drive, I went to take some pictures. The walk through the woods was lovely: lots of different colours everywhere. I even spotted two deer running along the track (on the woodland-side of the armco, mind you).
The SquealMobile was still where I'd left it, and hadn't barfed its coolant out.
Karl had time for two more laps before heading home for pizza, and he took pity on my carless state by taking me round in the BastardWagen. The track was perfect, the car was running well, the driver was enjoying himself, and so was I.
For those who still have doubts: I can confirm that Karl is flat all the way from the exit of Hocheichen over Quiddelbacher Höhe, and round Flugplatz.
Various cars were overtaken in the usual fashion. And then we came to Adenauer Forst. We took the Bastard Line (a cross between Christer's line and the Scuderia line), only to find a black Golf perpendicular to the normal direction of travel in the middle of the track. By the time we got close, he'd moved off the track. Not a dangerous situation, but a bit unexpected nevertheless.
On the way to Bergwerk I took Jochen's advice and admired the view on the left side of the track. Very nice indeed. Passengering does have some advantages.
On the horizon we spotted a little silvery dot. By the time we came to Steilstrecken Kurve we'd passed yet another car.
The entry into the Karussell was done at an impressive speed. According to the speedometer we were doing 214km/h just before dropping in.
The lap ended by overtaking some Audi's (a big one and a small one).
Of course we weren't timing the lap, but my instinct told me that it took us a little over 9 minutes to go from the bridge to the gantry. Not bad, after avoiding the spinning Golf and dealing with a lot of traffic.
With the pizza still warming up, we went out for another lap. A Belgian Elise was holding us up a little into Hatzenbach. After overtaking a BMW 5-series (not Ross), a Belgian Mini was in the way at Flugplatz.
The views you can admire as a passenger can be really nice: I'd never realised that you had an excellent view of the Nürburg castle after Flugplatz.
Among the overtaken was Johannes in the 318is. It looked like he was held up a bit around Mutkurve, where Karl could keep his foot flat on the floor all the way from Bergwerk to Steilstrecken kurve.
This time Karl took a slightly different approach to the section between Karussell and Hohe Acht. On the first lap he'd demonstrated that you could take it fully flat, albeit with a bit of tyre squeal. This time he did a slight lift before the left-right combination before Hohe Acht. It sounded less spectacular, but might have been a litte quicker. Hard to tell.
Despite the chilly weather a decent crowd had assembled at Brünnchen.
The lap ended with yet another overtake: this time an E36 cabrio. All in all another fast lap. My gut feeling said that it was even marginally (about 3 seconds) faster than the first one.
While Karl went for a Pizza, I admired a variation on last week's yellow 993RS bumper sticker. Is there a special name for such a sticker on a boik? Swing-arm sticker?
Karl's pizza stories had made me hungry. Fortunately Ross hadn't had lunch yet, so I wasn't the only hungry person there. Ross had been to an Italian restaurant in Adenau, and recommended we go there. The quick way. Fine with me :)
The BMW was an interesting car. It came with a silly little sticker on the speedo, and it had lots of gizmos and gadgets. The parking sensors went into a hyperactive state because of people passing close to us.
As was the case with my previous driver, this one was enjoying himself. As well he should: the car didn't grip very well, but it was supremely comfortable. And it wasn't a Mercedes E-class.
This time the balance between passed cars and passing cars was more even.
For some reason lots of photographers were present. Given the crappy light, they certainly had their work cut out for them.
Achim was around in the RingMini, overtaking us going into Aremberg.
We did overtake a Porsche 996 going through Wehrseifen, before we left the track at Breidscheid.
In case you forgot which brand of car you were driving, BMW has thoughtfully provided a reminder that activates when you switch the ignition off.
The restaurant was conveniently located: almost directly opposite the Breidscheid exit. The name sounded promising: Ristorante Pizzeria Giulia. The food was very good too, and made a nice change from the usual Pistenklause fare.
After a most enjoyable and relaxing lunch we finished the lap. It's not every day that you can say that you stopped for lunch halfway through a lap.
Ross switched the gearbox to manual control, and off we went.
A Belgium stickered-up Mini proceeded to fly past us after the Karussell, but otherwise there wasn't much traffic about.
Even though the parking lot was half empty, some people insisted on parking in the middle of the road. Under these circumstances the parking sensors actually made a bit of sense.
They didn't help the driver to park neatly though. But maybe that's a BMW-thing? ;)
After a very enjoyable day taking pictures, doing pax laps, and
having a late lunch, I decided to start heading home. The
temperature gauge in the SquealMobile fluttered a bit now and
again, but the car didn't overheat and brought me back
after a drive that lasted only slightly longer than usual.