Nürburgring (15-17 August 2003)
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FridayThanks to a rather busy week at work (54 hours by Thursday) I started packing on Friday morning at around 01.00 hours. Not the best of starts as I had an appointment at Kaul & Will later that morning to do a bit of work on the brakes of the 964.
A little under 5 hours of sleep later I fired up the 964 for the drive over. Traffic was light but annoying: lots of slow-movers about despite the early hour. Despite that I got to K&W reasonably on time. On time enough to have my car on the lift and people crawling over, under and around it before a familiar car appeared on a trailer: Keith had arrived. By that time most of the work on my brakes had been completed.
Keith and I spent some time discussing his various misfortunes (power steering failure on the 968, a bee sting, an overheating engine and a parking ticket while stranded), admiring the underside of Christian's car (and noticing that the bottom half of the engine has a 964 part number :-) ), my new brakes and various other things.
Herr Kaul gave me his version on how to bed in the brakes (which coincided with the instructions from the Pagid website). He also advised me to do about 3 laps with the new discs and to then let them cool overnight.
As the temperature was nice and the sun shining I made a quick pitstop on a Parkplatz off the main back road from Rheinbach to the Ring. The Ring was closed anyway. At Sliders I stored my old brake discs temporarily (to be taken home later), dropped off my bag, and dropped down for a quick nap. The quick nap turned into a lengthy one, but I made it to the track shortly after it opened anyway. I did three uneventful laps in the 964, then switched to the C-Car for some more. For some reason the car felt very scary to me: particularly on right-hand turns there was no grip at all. This led to the somewhat embarrassing situation that I blasted past some cars going through Tiergarten, only to wave them past before Flugplatz. Even though they were going very slowly.
Back at the restaurant I spotted Jocke, Caz, Ade and Trish. They made for an excellent audience to whine about the lack of grip in the C-Car :-) Jochen made an appearance too and added to my confusion by stating that the car had been fine for him the day before. As the track was closing soon anyway I returned the C-Car to Ring Racing. First priority was to get out my tyre pressure gauge and check the tyre pressures. But before I got round to that, a Man in Black appeared in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes limousine. The MIB proceeded to borrow my TPG to adjust the pressures in the tyres. Even after cooling off in the parking lot, the pressures were still 2.6 to 2.7 bar. Ben dropped them to 2.4 to be ready for an early start on Saturday.
Dinner was the usual friendly affair at the Fuchsrohre. I was still feeling the effects from lack of sleep and made sure I got back to Sliders at a decent hour. I told Bren I was going to make an early start, and for some reason he started laughing!?! Dunno why, it's not the first time I tell him I want to aim for an early start of the day :-)
SaturdayKeith and I had volunteered to give Ben a hand in updating the photo lap page on his website. An early start was deemed necessary, and since I'd threatened any late-comers that I might unleash some creative tortures (such as switching their mobile phones to the German language setting) on them if they were late I figured it might be wise to be on time myself. Keith was already there in a rental (his 968 still being grounded) and Ben would arrive shortly (Birgit was enjoying the clear track in the C-Car). Sir B. then drew up in his Blue Bus and suggested an easy lap. Two seconds later Keith was leading Sir B., and I trailed behind in the 964. The "easy" part lasted all the way from the gates to T-13. From then on Keith started picking up the pace, sliding his car-for-the-day nicely through Hatzenbach. We went in convoy to Adenauer Forst where one of those unfortunate things happened: a biker appeared to go off-line and off the throttle to let Keith by. Except that the biker didn't mean to make room and got rather close to Keith. The biker started shouting and waving his fist, Keith had already rolled down his window to apologise, but that was a bit difficult at 100+km/h wearing a full-face helmet.
Near the end of the lap Keith and Sir B. had traded positions. As a result I was following Keith through Pflanzgarten. Over the big jump Keith provoked the car a little, resulting in a bloody big slide. Definitely bigger than Sir B. did in his BastardWagen on over-inflated tyres a few weeks earlier :-)
After this entertaining lap we hooked up with Ben (who'd taken the C-Car away from Birgit) to do the photo-lap thing. The idea was that Keith would document Ben's progress from my passenger seat, while I tried to stay a reasonably fixed distance behind Ben. The plan was to do two consecutive laps. After a few turns it was obvious that Ben wasn't entirely happy with the C-Car. After some more turns it was obvious that Keith was getting a nice upper-body workout while doing the documenting. After the last turn Ben pointed vigourously to the right, indicating his desire to get off the track. Despite lowering the tyre pressures quite a bit on the previous evening after my single very unsatisfactory C-Car lap, the pressures were still way too high, resulting in some swearing and the words "this", "car", and "lethal" all used in the same sentence.
Of course, by the time the tyre pressures were adjusted the track was closed. And it wasn't even 9.00 hours yet :( After the closure we did part two of the documenting (I'm sure Keith's arms approved of the break). Of course the track was now getting much busier, making it a bit trickier to follow Ben without getting in the way of faster traffic. The results of this documentary effort will be available from a website near you sometime this winter, I think.
After the usual standing around, chatting and enjoying the sun it was time for some real fun. I'd been admiring a very yellow 964RS 3.8, which happened to be Tor Helge's vehicle. A very short while later I was squeazing into his passenger seat. I've been in tighter spots, but this was rather tight for me. As it turned out getting into the seat was the easy part: for some reason the harness didn't like my way of adjusting them, but we got it sorted in the end.
Tor Helge was obviously taking it easy, but "taking it easy" is very much a relative term when it comes to a good driver in a fast car on R-compounds :) Great fun, and a great car. Wonderful sound, too :-) The 3.8 makes a noticable difference to the 3.6l engine, particularly in the torque department. This is very obvious when exiting Karussell, for example: same gear, roughly the same revs, and the 3.8 just pulls away as if it's downhill. Impressive. Also impressive was the speed through certain sections. Hedwigshohe and Wippermann was really quick, for example.
After this lap we switched cars and positions: Tor Helge took my passenger seat. Keith was following us. Fortunately he reacted quickly when we came to Adenauer Forst: a biker had gone down hard, and part of the track was blocked. He was already being attended to by some other bikers, but I stopped to let Tor Helge jump out to lend a hand and parked the 964 in a safe place off the track a little further down. The accident had already been called in. One of the bike-riding marshalls appeared before I got back to the scene and asked me to give the office another call and request an ambulance. At moments like these it's certainly very convenient to make yourself understood in German. A little while later Tor Helge and I decided there was nothing more we could do there, so we finished the lap in a slightly depressed mood.
Fortified with some food I went to Hocheichen to take some pics. I found a decent spot about 50 meters from the B-257. Pics are at the photography section of this site. Among the passers-by are Kees in a black Scooby, the C-Car showing the Viper the way, Christoph, Christian's 968, Tor Helge and Jocke.
During the next closure I hiked to Aremberg and took some more pics, including Ben & Birgit, Tom and Jocke.
Traffic was thinning out quickly now: a good time to get back on the track myself for two final laps of the day. There was hardly any traffic around: nearly perfect.
The Ringers dinner was at the Fuchsröhre. Job had some good advice on how to select food and drink: people who live healthy don't live longer, it only looks as if they do because they suffer more.
Ben was telling us about his new Dedicated Ring Tool (a Porsche 944). He was also trying to sell a half share in that car, and doing a good job at it. Alas, all things are relative: Job got wind of what Ben was doing and went into sales-mode with a vengeance. His target of opportunity was TrRRish. The value of Ben's DRT was going up by the second. Listening to Job that 944 was no ordinary 944, oh no, it was the car that should have been but never was: an honest to God 968RS. After this sales barrage it was a small step to organise some car-buying advice for Christer who had been dithering about whether or not to buy a 3-series for racing purposes. A no-brainer, really, but some people need a little encouragement now and again. The encouragement was duly provided in the shape of one or two text messages to his mobile phone.
All in all a highly enjoyable evening. But, dear reader, the evening isn't over yet. On my way out the door I asked Job what car he was driving that day. It turned out to be a very entertaining car: a lime-green Lupo. With huge alloys. With an enormous amount of plastic added to it. All professionally painted: if it hadn't been so ugly it could have been factory fitted. A perfect job from a technical point of view. Aesthetically it was, well, a bit overdone, maybe :) The inside matched the outside perfectly: lime-green everywhere, for example in the two-tone grey/green leather seats. The tiny boot was filled with a bass pump, lots of speakers and an impressive array of amplifiers. Job couldn't resist starting the engine and doing a little demo of the assorted gadgetry. (If he hadn't started the engine the battery would have gone flat in 5 minutes, I guess.) Even at ear-splitting volume the DVD (playing "Taxi", of course) sounded fine. The car was rocking a bit on its suspension, though. Oh, and we got some funny looks from most people who happened to pass us. A fantastic finish of the day. Job, please bring that car again so that more people can enjoy it.
SundayOn Sunday I did 2 laps while it was still relatively early, but for some reason there was quite a bit of aggression in the air. Don't know why, but as a result I opted for some chatting in the car park with Rene, Ben, Christer, Sir B. and some other assorted Ringers. I found Christian (people tend to come back to their parked car sooner or later), and Richard (yellow Radical) found me.
Sir B. kindly invited Rene and myself for a passenger lap in his Blue Bus. It sounds really nice when you accelerate hard, and it's very comfortable. Much better than the Silver Barge IMHO. Particularly the seats are much better, and there's less bodyroll. Coming into Aremberg we had an interesting moment: Sir B. braked, nothing much happened (I got a feeling of deja-vu...), he braked again, some tyres locked up, the rear stepped out, and the good Sir did a good job at getting things back on an even keel in time fo the turn-in to Aremberg. As I had my helmet with me anyway I figured I might as well put it on now... The rest of the lap was relatively uneventful, and Sir B. parked across the road, this time remembering to pull the handbrake before getting out.
And then it started to rain. With the car still in once piece and a
busy week ahead of me I decided to call it a day and went home after a
most enjoyable weekend.