Nürburgring (9 October 2005)
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Thanks to an overactive mosquito I woke up at an unplanned 6am. After
killing the mosquito I was too awake to go back to sleep. Instead I
headed for the Ring. The weather forecast was warm and sunny, and
getting there early to get some decent laps in before the rest of the
world arrived seemed like the sensible thing to do.
I started off in nearly full darkness, had a nice sunrise in Germany, followed by more than a little fog near the Ring.
The carpark at the Ring was about half full, and I decided to go straight out. Judging by the handful of tracks on the damp surface not too many people had gone out ahead of me.
The late opening was justified by the amount of fog between Kallenhard and Ex-Mühle. A perfect illustration of the varying conditions you can encounter during a single lap: bright sunshine and dense fog. Apart from the fog there were also a lot of oil spill warnings, for instance at Hatzenbach and Mutkurve.
The track was still damp, and I used the first two laps to get a handle on the available grip. At the start of my second lap an Italian Scooby (one of many) roared off into the distance on Döttinger Höhe. The Torquemobile was more than a little out-powered. However, the Scooby was driven by someone who was clearly unfamiliar with the track, and I zoomed past when he moved over to see which way the track would be going at Quiddelbacher Höhe.
There still wasn't much traffic on the track, and I enjoyed driving on a sunny day on a lovely track. Not seeing anything in the rearview mirrors the entire laps was relaxing too.
Lap three was a bit busier, but just as enjoyable as the previous lap. This time I followed an Opel Astra GSi (stripped, and with Poohl Power stickers on it) who was doing a similar pace. The suspension looked to be a bit on the stiff side, judging by the rear wheels taking lots of sideways hops through Schwedenkreuz. I got the impression that he was a bit quicker in the twisty bits and I had a bit more speed on the straight bits. On the approach to Metzgesfeld he indicated right, but I declined the invitation. Some traffic separated us on the way to Breidscheid, but the gap remained more or less the same by the end of the lap the gap. A very nice lap.
The fourth lap was a bit busier, but still quiet enough that most of the time I could have fun on my own in the corners, and doing traffic management on the straights. Life is much easier in the Torquemobile than in the Squealmobile: it carries quite a bit more cornering speed and is faster on the straights as well.
The "small" service that was performed on the Torquemobile meant I also had to get used to new front tyres and new front brake pads. For some reason the brakes were a lot easier to modulate on the old pads. The new ones had a very grabby feel to them, but after a lap or two things were back to "normal".
With four laps under my belt before 10am I gave my car a short rest in the carpark. A brief chat with Joerg (who was there at the official opening time) told me that the track had been closed due to fog. Given the limited visibility near Wehrseifen and Breidscheid I wasn't too surprised.
A quick wander round the carpark turned up a surprisingly small amount of familiar faces. A reporter was lugging around a big camera while interviewing Brits. The questions were along the line of "Why do you come here", "What are you driving" and "Can you tell me a bit about your car".
A small convoy of old Mercs did a slow tour of the carpark. I spotted some of them on the track later.
Another old car was brown and made all kinds of weird noises. A bit like the toy sirens sometimes found on little kiddies tricycles. This car had been on the track earlier that morning.
Some people were talking to their banana.
Some cars tend to attract owners who behave in certain ways. Apparently if you drive a Ferrari you can stop in the middle of the road and let your (female) passenger climb out of the car at her leisure. You then spend the next minute or two chatting to her, seemingly oblivious to the queue behind you. For some reason I wasn't too surprised to see the same passenger flagging down a yellow Lambo, who proceeded to block all traffic while chatting to the Ferrari-passenger-without-Ferrari. Again a case of talking to a banana ;)
A more unusual sight was a dark green rental that was both old and small. It too went out on the track later that day.
The carpark was getting busier by the minute now, and I decided to do a good deed by unparking my car to do two more laps. There were lots of yellow flag situations on both laps. On the approach to Bergwerk I had a chance to test the stability of the Torquemobile under heavy braking: I'd gone through Ex-Mühle at a fair pace and kept it nailed through Lauda Links, only to find a marshall vigorously waving a yellow flag before Bergwerk. The new alignment seems to provide better stability under these circumstances, but I wouldn't have minded being in the 964 instead. Even after slamming the brakes on immediately after exiting Laude Links and keeping a nice long squeeeeeeeal going while braking it was a bit of a challenge to scrub off the amount of speed I wanted. Round the corner Fabian was doing his thing yet again). I do hope he sometimes gets to do 2 uninterrupted laps in a row, because most of the time I see him by the side of the road waving a flag.
After two laps of creeping through accident scenes I went to take some pictures between Eschbach (Mount Mutton in particular) and Hedwigshöhe. The boiks flying over the crest there made for an entertaining spectacle.
There were quite a few Italians around, including Max in his Exige.
Did I ever mention that I have a soft spot for GT3s?
Not everyone had a good day: an E30 lost it on Mount Mutton, resulting in an off. If you speak German, you can read more about it on the E30-racing website.
I called in the accident, but somebody had beaten me to it as the marshalls already knew about it. With the gravel bouncing off the railing in front of me I moved to another spot a bit furter up the track.
Jochen was doing a lap in his 155, which desperately needs some of those magnificent M-030 anti-roll bars.
The Edo Porsche was chasing the Ringtaxi. Due to the recovery operation of the E30, most of Mount Mutton was still coned off.
Traffic on the track was getting busier and busier. Quite a few boikers were making the most of the sunny weather.
Ah, another GT3. Did I mention...? ;-)
Some drivers swapped places for a lap or two, letting their co-pilot do a bit of driving.
Bren followed the Viper for a bit.
Joerg made an appearance too, finding out that Victor has a one-lap stomach.
Fabian got a chance to do some riding in between flagging at accident scenes.
The track was closed for a bit, but I decided to hang around until it opened again.
Flipping the bird at photographers seems to be a new trend. Maybe because they want to be able to to point their grandchildren to this site in 40 years time and tell them "that's what grandpop did when he was young".
From the photographer's point of view it's much more fun to take pics of nice and/or well-drive cars (and boiks).
Afterwards I decided to stop by the carpark for a bit to see if more familiar faces had turned up. Traffic was the (by now usual) mess. Cars parked on both sides of the road didn't really help traffic flow.
Things didn't improve when a full-sizes bus came down the road.
In the carpark across the road a Volvo had bitwise intercourse with a rather unobtrusive laptop.
In the carpark I had a quick chat with the Bad Dragon, and a longer
one with Jochen. By this time I was starting to run behind schedule,
and despite the track opening again I went back home again.