Nürburgring (30 April 2006)
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The dealer had fitted the shopping trolley with 4 new tyres after my
What better place to scrub them in then the Nordschleife?
The weather forecast was a bit iffy, but things looked promising on the way up.
However, this time the forecast was a bit more accurate than usual. On the B-258 near Ring Racing some hail was falling.
At the Ring I went straight out for a lap. The track was in half-decent condition. For a change the back road from the B-258 to Nürburg was more slipperythan the Nordschleife itself. Anyway, despite taking it nice and easy I encountered someone who was going even slower than I was. A VW van/pickup thing pulled over to the left of the track when he saw me approaching at Metzgesfeld. I put on my left indicators, pulled even further left than he did, and after a suitable pause started flashing my high beams at him. This usually does the trick. In this case it didn't work. We'd gone round Kallenhard in this fashion, and a 3-series was coming up from behind. He obviously didn't want to join the procession on the left side of the track and blasted past on the way to Spiegelkurve.
By then I the follow-the-van-near-the-left-kerb thing was getting a bit old, but with my luck I didn't want to overtake him on the wrong side for two reasons: I'd made it abundantly clear that I wanted to overtake him on the correct side, so he might pull across me when I went for an undertake. Also, it's ultimately my responsibility to overtake him on the correct side. Anyway, on the approach to Wehrseifen he jerked his vehicle across the track, allowing me to overtake him on the correct side.
The second half of the lap went a bit quicker: after the holdup with the red van, a white car had joined up with me. We were doing similar speeds, but he was a bit faster round the bends. This led to an interesting situation at Wippermann, where I went in fully committed. The first half went fine, the second half was a bit less satisfying thanks to quite a bit of understeer after the apex. Not enough to cause a real problem, but at the bottom of Mount Mutton a marshall was waving a flag vigorously. Better straighten the car out and hit the brakes, then.
A silver Honda Civic had lost it going over Mount Mutton and was parked rear-end first into the armco. The car didn't look very well, with lots of plastic hanging off it, and some more dents than the designer had intended.
My white companion and I finished the lap in convoy, and parked next to a GT3RS, as always hoping that some of its speed might rub off on my lowly diesel.
The silver Civic wasn't the only one to have an expensive afternoon. I spotted a co-driver walking across the carpark carrying a front bumper of a Scooby. The Scooby itself was parked at the track exit.
In Melbourne there's a saying: "if you don't like the weather, wait an hour". This is how it sometimes works in the Eifel too. Minutes after driving with my windscreen wipers on, the sun was shining again.
An outfit called Thenurburgringexperience was there too. Some had reasonably discrete stickers, others were a bit louder.
A wander over to the other carpark turned up Ecurie Europe's faster cousin. From what I could see of the front half of the car, it wasn't entirely standard anymore.
A TVR salesman had parked a car with a stack of business cards under the windscreen wiper. I'm no expert on TVRs, but this one didn't look as if it was finished yet.
The next car to be admired was Thorleif's CSL. For some reason the powers that rule BMW decided the car wouldn't be available in white. A strange decision, as the car looks really good in white. Which is why Thorleif's CSL is now white. The car more or less continually attracted a little crowd, and more than a few people debated amongst themselves if it was a real CSL or a lookalike.
Thorleif had commandeered a table with a view at the Grüne Hölle. We spent some time catching up until Jochen joined us to show some of his pictures. Naturally some time was spent discussing the state of his car. Jochen then selflessly invited himself into the Thorleif's passenger seat; I went out for some more laps myself.
Earlier in the day Hatzenbach was covered in dirt. During this lap there was more dirt, and a crashed car. On the way to Aremberg I spotted a RingTaxi coming up. In the Squealmobile it would have been on me in an instant, but in the Torquemobile I at least managed to get down most of Fuchsröhre before Sabine (I could see that now) was getting ready to overtake me. I found out that even with the new Dunlop tyres (which are quite a bit slower than the previous set of Pirellis) Fuchsröhre was flat. I did have some work to do to get my shopping trolley slowed down before Adenauer Forst, though. Into Adenauer Forst I indicated right, which gave me a first row seat when Sabine put on a nice display of drifting through both the lefthander and the righthander (videoclip courtesy of Brian. Thanks!). Andy made a picture of the overtake:
With the carpark reasonably full I went directly to Pflanzgarten to take some pictures. Karl was out playing with his 944, and Thorleif was having fun with a GT3.
Of course there were more than a few Brits around.
Once people realise that you're in a particular section, they start greeting you :-)
Several boiks were making the most of the dry surface.
With the sun shining it was perfect weather for open-top motoring.
The RingMini was out there too. Achim was being held up by a GT3...
A lightened M5 was doing the rounds. He seemed to be slightly challenged in the rearwheel traction department though: every time I saw him the rear end was at least wiggling, but more often slightly sideways.
The new colour scheme on Thorleif's CSL looks brilliant in the green surroundings of the Nordschleife.
Some cars made more impressive noises than others.
Gary had a busy afternoon.
Other assorted shots:
Afterwards I went back to the carpark to see if I could cadge a ride with somebody. This would have to wait until the track re-opened. A 2.7RS had positioned itself in a strategic position to get out with a minimal delay once the track openend again.
The weather was getting cold and wet again. A Caterham had put the roof up to keep the interior reasonably dry.
While taking pictures I'd noticed a Saab going round at impressive speeds. On the other side of the carpark I couldn't help but notice its tyres.
An E46 M3 had modified its brakes a little:
When the track re-opened I found out that Thorleif's CSL was out of action: the brakes were vibrating badly. Apparantly his top-secret setup isn't able to cope with his speeds. The discs (rotors for the 'mericuns) had a very noticable blue cast on most of the surface. The next step to improve the brakes is adding ducts to feed cool air to the brakes.
By now it was not only getting colder, it was also starting to snow. Which was my cue to bugger off home. The weather I encountered during the first 15 minutes of driving confirmed my decision not to wait for the weather to clear. On the B-258 I spotted the 2.7RS again, driving in convoy with another classic.
Back in the Netherlands I encountered a rare sight: another black Ibiza Cupra Diesel. He passed me to acknowledge that he'd spotted me, and we gave each other a wave when he turned off a little later.