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Nurburgring June 07

Nurburgring Trip Report, June 07by Helen

Last month myself and 3 other friends began the journey to the Nurgburgring. This trip was something which had been discussed for a few years but we had never got round to.

There were four of us in three cars – my MR2 Turbo, Doug’s Peugeot 106 and Dean’s Peugeot 205. Both Doug and Dean have carried out engine transplants on their cars, don’t ask me what they’ve got in there instead though! I think a 1.6 GTi in Doug’s car and an MI-16 in Dean’s. Here we all are filling up at the main petrol station near the Ring:

Normally this petrol station was absolutely packed but we managed to hit it lucky and only had to queue for a minute!!

The trip to Dover on Thursday morning was fairly uneventful, apart from the fact that I headed off to Basingstoke instead of Bracknell (queue comments about female navigational skills)! On the way down to Dover we saw quite a few nice cars heading down to Le Mans for the weekend, and when we were stopped at the ferry the customs chaps were rather surprised that we weren’t going there as well.

The drive from Dunkerque to our hotel was surprisingly easy, apart from the filthy weather and appalling motorways in Belgium. Unfortunately, about 20 minutes from our hotel near Adenau, we encountered some diesel on a bend. Doug was at the front of the convoy and pirouetted onto the other side of the road backwards. I went straight through the diesel and hit the armco, a bad start to the holiday but fortunately the only damage seemed to be cosmetic:

Fortunately Dean was far enough behind that he was able to see what had happened and take evasive action. Determined not to let this ruin the holiday, we checked the car over and continued on our way to the hotel.

Friday morning saw some more dreary weather which put a dampner on things. Fortunately the track didn’t open until 5PM so we spent the day exploring the local town, Adenau, and getting our bearings. We also visited the ruined Nurburg castle which stood up on a hill and offered a view of parts of the ring – well it might have done if it hadn’t been foggy and raining!

We then made our way back to the Ring and one of the popular spectating points. It was fairly quiet but of course there were some nice bits of kit going round, and a surprising number of motorbikes.

We then made our way down to the main entrance to try and get in a few laps. Prices are fairly reasonable – 64 Euros for a 4-lap card, which works at about £10 per lap. Dean went out for the first lap and I passengered. This photo was taken as something to remember me by in case we didn’t make it back!!

The lap seemed to go so quickly, and was great fun. It was clear that Dean knows his car very well and was a very smooth and clean lap, the little 205 handled like a go-kart and was fairly poky. My favourite bits on the first lap were Fuchsruhre (Foxhole) and Karussell (Carousel) just for the sheer head-rush and the way the changes in altitude in the Foxhole make you stomach drop! The track was fairly busy as people rushed to get in one last lap before the track closed for the evening. Doug and Tim then did their first lap in the 106. By this point I had butterflies in my stomach at the prospect of taking the Tubby round but unfortunately, by the time Doug and Tim got back in, the track had closed for the evening.

That evening we ventured down into Adenau for a meal and some drinks, and met up with some fellow Brits in Blau Ecke, which seemed to be the most popular bar in Adenau.

Saturday morning saw another dreary start – the Eiffel region is high up and so the weather is constantly changing – one minute it was sunny, the next raining. Nevertheless we made our way down to the track and I got in my first lap.

I took the lap very cautiously – it was my first time on track driving the MR2 and I was a bit wary of the fast car/RWD combination! Dean was a good passenger and his tight-lipped silence kept me within my limits. Fortunately the car is equipped with ‘Hollywood tyres’ which screeched around practically every corner, giving me a good idea of how much I was pushing the car!! I really enjoyed the lap, it was a great adrenaline buzz, and I couldn’t wait to get out on my next lap. Dean and Doug also got out for another lap and we then decided to have a wander around the car pack to check out some of the automotive porn.

There was so much nice kit that it was pretty much impossible to not become blasé about it. The above is just a small selection of pictures taken over the weekend!

I then went out for my second lap with Tim as a passenger, hence-forth to be known as ‘the harbinger of death’, as whenever he was in the car, something went wrong. It started to spit lightly about a minute into the lap, and unfortunately I learnt the hard way that tapping the brakes midway round a corner is very silly. I had a slight argument with the rumble strip, and finished the lap very very gingerly.

Some kind chaps taped up the splitter for me and also taped an arrow onto the top of the car to remind me which way I was meant to be heading!

As it was still spitting with rain we left the track and went to watch from a good vantage point. There were still a surprising number of people making their way around the track. The most common marques of car over the weekend were, unsurprisingly, Porsches, BMWs and VWs. These cars were clearly driven by locals or enthusiasts who spent a lot of time at the Ring and knew their way around. The Ring-Taxis were also unbelievably quick, M5s driven round the track with passengers – we asked about these and they were 350 Euros a lap!! Later that afternoon we each got in another lap, and I had my first passenger ride with Doug. Again, the 106 was like a little go-kart, scooching round the track and carrying some surprising corner speed. The main difference between the MR2 and the Peugeots was that whilst they were more nimble around the corners, the MR2 had much longer legs on the long, uphill straights, where the Peugeot’s struggled.

That evening we drove down to Adenau again for another meal and drinks.

Despite a 02:30 finish we were up at 08:00 on Sunday ready for our final full day at the Ring. The weather was lovely and sunny, and we got to the Ring to find it much busier than the day before. There was the usual selection of eye candy and also a fair few cars which were just being shown off with no intention of being taken around the track – the main offender being an Audi A8 with some rather large tanks of NOS in the boot!!

On Sunday I managed to get in 3 laps, and as I became more confident I was surprised at how much more capable the car was than I originally thought. It felt balanced and solid through the corners, and the acceleration was effortless. The only hesitation I have, which is on my part rather than that of the car, is that it’s able to get up to speeds so quickly that I had to be careful not to be going too fast into corners and then over-braking to compensate. One of my favourite corners was Hohe Acht, an uphill sweep which finishes in an off-camber right hander that you sweep around and can continue to accelerate through. Another excellent section is Harzenbach, a series of esses for which you set your line and sweep through. Carousel was also great fun to plunge into and let gravity carry you round as you accelerate around it. One corner which I found difficult was Breidscheid, as you accelerate down towards it and it is deceptively tight. There is also a second entrance here for bikers so it was important to keep your eyes peeled.

Unfortunately, partly because the weather was so nice and partly because people were desperate to get in final laps before they left, the etiquette on the track disintegrated markedly on Sunday. I was very careful to keep an eye on my mirrors and get out of the way as soon as anything fast appeared behind me. This was normally enough and people would overtake when it was safe to do so. However, on Sunday, people were overtaking on corners and when it was clearly not safe to do so. This resulted in each of our group seeing at least 1 or 2 accidents on each lap, and unfortunately there were also a few fatalities. As a consequence the track was closed for large chunks (1-2 hours each time), leading to even more traffic when it re-opened.

Sunday night saw us eating in Pistenklause with a nice bunch of guys. Pistenklause is the restaurant that a lot of the racing drivers have been to and all of the walls are covered with signatures and photos. Their speciality is steak served on a hot stone, which you cook yourself. The food was delicious and we spent a great evening with these chaps whose cars ranged from a Ferrari 360 to a Porsche 911 turbo. We definitely felt like the poor cousins!

On Monday morning we packed up and began the return journey to Cheltenham. We left the hotel at 10:00 and were home at 10:30 that evening, tired but happy.

The trip was excellent, I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I can’t wait to do it again! Here is a final pic of myself, Doug, Tim and Dean. Hope you enjoyed the write-up!