Nürburgring (3 April 2005)
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This trip was one of those mostly unplanned trips. Keith's employer was kind enough to fly him over for a bit of work, which gave Keith the chance to get some laps under his belt. I figured it would be rude not to pop over for a quick visit, and since Saturday was already fully booked I went for a Sunday afternoon trip. The entire preparation consisted of topping up the oil of the SquealMobile (it drinks more oil than the 964...), putting my helmet in the back seat, grabbing my Jahreskarte out of the 964's Jahreskarteholder, and taking something to eat and drink along.
When I arrived around 14.30 hours, I expected it the be very busy, so I did the sensible thing by goign straight out onto the track for a lap or two. For some reason, despite the wonderful weather, things were relatively quiet. There wasn't all that much traffic on the track, but having driven the 964 hard only a week earlier, the SquealMobile was a bit disappointing. It's done more than 140.000km now, and the shocks are tired. Also, the forever-lasting front tyres didn't help facilitating a crisp turn-in. Still, the sun was shining, I didn't have to move over for too many other cars and boiks, and I was enjoying being on the track.
At Brünnchen-2 a silver Z3 had crashed heavily into the right-hand armco on the exit of the corner. Marshalls were directing traffic to the left side of the road, where a very narrow gap existed between the roadside and the load of broken-off BMW-parts. At the end of the lap I noticed that the red light wasn't on, so I went out for another lap. This time the gap in Brünnchen-2 was even narrower, wth lots of sweeping going on. Having finished the lap I figured I'd better try to find Keith and Joerg, so I parked across the road in the now semi-paved parking lot.
A quick wander round the parking lot turned up some colourful vehicles, but no G-Car and no Keith and no Joerg.
Obviously Bren had let himself be inspired by some Ferrari drivers, staking out a piece of parking lot, parking a support vehicle there, and set up some scarlet folding chairs.
The crashed Z3 came off the track on the back of the recovery truck. It looked quite badly mangled.
Two sweet Italian cars later I spotted our trusty G-60, with Keith next to it. The F360 was a different one from the one I'd overtaken on the A-61 on the way up, incidentally. That one must have been trying to optimise his fuel economy.
Instead of standing around too much, Keith and I went for some laps with Keith driving. His forced absence from the Ring hadn't affected his speed much. Even with the G-Car slightly down on power we went round quickly and smoothly. The sun kept shining, and the track still wasn't very busy.
Bastard Bend was quite crowded though, but after that things settled down again.
Also on the track was a white Civic Type-R that was shifting along at impressive speeds. It overtook us just before Maddock Bend with a big speed advantage.
As a passenger you have more opportunities to look around and admire the scenery. You also tend to notice weird things like yellow boiks parked near the gate at the bottom of the Steilstrecke.
A dark Peugeot was a bit slow moving over, giving me a chance to inspect its rear at close quarters.
On the cooling down run we got stuck in a little traffic jam at the intersection with the B-258. Some careful positioning of the car and a bit of creeping up to the car in front helped to persuade the cars in front of us to make a bit of room for our G-Car.
Back in the carpark an Alfa 75 stood out from the crowd. Not because of the bright red colour, but because of what looked like home-made putty to seal the front windshield. The fact that part of the coat of the passenger was hanging out the closed door didn't detract much from that.
After a short pause it was time for some more G-Car laps. Traffic seemed to become a little more dense now, but not much of a nuisance at the speed we were doing. A yellow BMW showed that we weren't the fastest car out there by overtaking us rapidly.
Exiting Aremberg we overtook a lowered black Golf with black rims. To offset all that black, the driver was wearing a light shirt and displaying that by putting his elbow on the windowsill.
Keith certainly seemed to be enjoying himself. I know I was :)
In the meantime the Streckensicherung had arrived to take a look at the boik parked at Steilstrecken. Dunno why it was there or what they did with it, though.
The next lap we got to admire the RingMini once again. The G-60 is no slouch, but we didn't see much of Achim after Tiergarten.
The rearview mirror was empty for most of the lap, until Keith reeled in a VW Polo, and started to close in on a silver Audi TT.
Keith made up a lot of ground in Mutkurve and the section leading up to Steilstrecken Kurve. On the way up to the Karussell the TT indicated right, but with its power advantage just putting the indicator out doesn't enable a 13-year old Golf (further handicapped by carrying a passenger) to make an easy uphill pass. Consequently we were still behind the TT when it dove into the Karussell.
At that point I noticed a spectator making urgent slow-down movements, and I shouted to Keith to slow down. He would have in a few seconds anyway, as the TT was parked in the middle of the road, with a crashed boik laying in front of it. Much easier on the nerves to have lost a bit of speed before entering the Karussell, though. A bit of honking convinced the Audi-driver that parking out of sight round the corner in the middle of the track wasn't such a hot idea, unless you wanted to have a GT3 end up near the gearlever.
With the TT out of the way Keith pulled off the track in a safe spot, grabbed the yellow vest we always carry in the G-Car (and the C-Car, for that matter) to warn approaching traffic, while I grabbed my phone and called the office to inform them about the accident. Only moments later Franek stopped and commandeered my phone to explain the situation to the marshalls in more detail, and started warning passing traffic of the oil dropped by the crashed boik. The boik didn't look too bad, but hey, what do I know about boiks?
After making sure that Franek knew where I was, I went over to Keith and take over the flagging for a bit. Naturally Fabian pulled up in short order and started to direct traffic to the outside of the bend, while questioning the crasher about what had happened. Apparantly this wasn't his first crash.
It was interesting to see how quickly some of the drivers and riders responded to the waved yellow vest. It was even more interesting to hear Franek yelling "OIL" at those who didn't slow down enough.
A few minutes later the offical troops started to arrive, relieving Keith and me of our flagging duties. With a feeling of a job well done, Keith and I went back to the G-Car to finish the lap. While returning to the car we remarked that the 4-door G-Car looked a bit like a taxi, especially with most of the doors open.
We strapped in, and Keith suggested that we might put a notice on the car with words to the effect of "Passengers welcome, helmet required". Then he carefully checked his mirrors, I looked over my shoulder to be doubly sure, and Keith pulled away. CLANG!!! "What the f*ck was that!?!?!" "I think we just closed our rear door..." "Oh, OK..."
After we'd parked off the track, Joost had come by in his company car, and had parked in front of the G-Car to help. Somehow Keith and I managed to notice the wide open rear door, but failed to close it before driving away... Fortunately the damage to Joost's car was minor (a small crack in the taillight cluster), and there was no damage to be seen on the G-Car.
Keith and Joost exchanged contact info, and after that we strapped in again and this time managed to complete the lap without hitting anything.
As the tank wasn't empty yet we did some more laps, without having to stop for crashed and without running into things.
Despite the nice weather, the track stayed virtually empty. Better do another lap, then. This turned out to be one of the more amusing ones I've ever done. A black Alfa 147 GTA and a silver Maserati were ahead of us. After Hatzenbach Keith had made up the ground we lost accelerating out of the cones, but the GTA didn't want to let us by. Figuring that he'd had all the car-to-car contacts he needed that day, Keith kept his distance, but made sure that it was impossible to overlook that we were faster through the twisty bits. Finally the GTA moved over, and we proceeded to get the message across to the Maserati that we were more than a little faster.
In due course the Maserati realised that keeping that old Gold behind him was becoming a bit of a bother, so he too made room. Within seconds however, the GTA was up our arse, and close enough to prompt Keith to move over and let him go ahead again. Something we sincerely regretted by the time we came to Metzgesfeld, as he was starting to hold us up big time again.
The GTA moved over once again, we overtook him, and of course then the GTA had to overtake us again. We lost count how many times exactly we swapped places, but it was getting to be a bit silly. Highly amusing though.
After so much fun we had no other option than to do yet another lap. We gave the G-Car a chance to cool down a little by switching to the SquealMobile. I still hadn't gotten used to the Squealer properly after so much 964-driving only a few days earlier. At least I remembered to brake a bit earlier, but the (lack of) turn-in was a little scary sometimes.
Traffic was pleasurably light, with few cars/boiks overtaking us, and with us overtaking only a handful of cars.
Keith's motion sensors had had enough after one lap of bouncing and rolling, so I dropped him off, did a short cool-down, and went for another lap. When I came back things were really quiet, apart from a certain Swedish person who was telling a small audience about his exploits in a rental Golf on winter tyres.
Some quick goodbyes later I started the drive home, which didn't take all that long :)