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View Full Version : The MX-5 lives! July 24th - 27th



Chris Ratcliff
11-08-2008, 10:15 PM
It's the difficult second trip. You know where the supermarket is, how overpriced the Grune Holle restaurant is, and just how good steak on a stone really is. Curiosity replaced by a ferocious desire to return to the hallowed tarmac. Heck, you've even remembered a little more school German than your last trip... Well, I've remembered more about the lovely girls from my German class than the actual language, but I digress...

Like almost everyone reading this forum, the desire to return never really leaves you. It wains during the winter, then comes on with a vengence the closer you get to stepping foot on teutonic soil. rFactor was pressed into service to help me cope with my cravings, and the track guide became my bedtime reading. Jim - my partner in crime, and owner of the vehicle I'm allowed to thrash mercilessly for one weekend a year - rang and said the engine in the MX-5 was getting baggy (my words, not his. Something to do with cams wearing the head) and had been sent away to be refurbished. A month before the off, the bad news came through. The block would cost several hundred to be made lovely, and no second-hand heads were around for Mk1 engines that were in better condition or reasonable money. The ring trip was looking shakey. We could take my car, but a 1.6 Ford Focus on ditchfinder tyres is really no match for the Green Hell. Jim would do his best. Weeks passed, I got ready to cancel my leave from work, and Jim rang again.

"There's a guy selling a Cat D write off Mk2.5 for £1500. I'll just swap the bits over and we'll make it."

How easily do the bits swap?

"Well, I was speaking to a bloke who apparently is the only one in UK who's put the Mk2.5 engine in a Mk1, and it took him 6 weeks."

We had two.

"I'll crack on and see what I can do."

I should point out that, for those who saw the car at the weekend, just how many bits came off the donor car; engine, gearbox, front subframe, suspension all round, brakes all round, dash, indicator stalks instruments, loom and the exhaust manifold. Two weeks, all that.

I carried on preparing myself for the mental let down. I'd hear about bits being bolted on, the loom that needed splicing, the MoT that needed passing. Yup, the car had no MoT and it had to pass before we left. We leave on Wednesday, and Jim says it's going well. The MoT is booked for Sunday morning.

Sunday comes and goes. He decided it wasn't upto it yet, and kept spannering.

Monday, turned away from the MoT centre. The home made Elise seat brackets caught the inspectors eye, and he didn't even start the inspection proper.

Tuesday, no ferry booked. No hotel booked for the journey. No MoT. Ok, so the fact this is a trip report and not a non-trip report does give away the fact that at 5:20pm the day before we leave, the wee blue soft top got a clean bill of health from VOSA. Calais hotel - Booked. Ferry - Booked (at somewhat over the odds). We were on our way.

Those of you who read my trip report last year will remember I turned up to see the MX-5 missing wheels and suspension. This year the bonnet was up, the drivers seat was missing, but that was it. We'll be on our way, stop at Grand Prix Racewear for a new lid for Jim, and be lounging on P&Os finest without breaking a sweat. If only. Jim was welding the driver's seat bracket as he wasn't convinced it was quite strong enough. The boxes in the corner of the garage were new alloys freshly imported from Japan which needed fitting and tyres swapping onto them. Going through the phone book, I found a tyre fitting place, last minute toiletries were bought, and the car was looking road worthy, but there would be much sweating and no trip to go helmet shopping.

"Right, there's no stereo. We could bolt in an amp, wire up the speakers and just hook up an iPod or something?"

You know we should have left an hour ago? You know we won't have time to stop at....

"Don't say it. I need a lid."

It was the second year we'd planned to stop at Silverstone on the way to Dover, and the second year we couldn't.

We packed, we squashed, we made do. Jim told me about the missing heat shields under the centre tunnel and not to rest my leg against it. Sitting in the bath-like Elise bucket seat, boot barely shutting, sat-nav plotting a route to Dover, I couldn't believe the car was ready. Jim had worked tirelessly on it, it felt good, it made a very good noise, and just the box-fresh Yellow Stuff pads stopped it being an immediate little racer.

Heading south on the M1, the direct steering requiring constant adjustments from my unaccustomed senses. We passed a sign for Silverstone, neither of us said anything. M25 passed without too much traffic, and straight onto the boat at Dover. Ok, so it was the one after we'd booked on, but things were going well. We ate, then went up on deck.

As most of our party live down south, and I'd come from Sheffield meeting up with Jim in Leicester, they were either staying in Dover overnight or making an early start on Thursday. We'd found some Calais hotels that were cheaper than the Dover equivalents, and wouldn't need such an early start. We decided on an evening crossing, and the watching the sunset over the white cliffs was a very cool sight.

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/jim-boat-sunset.jpg

Rolling off the boat, we headed into Calais, but my Sat-Nav didn't seem to know the road where the hotel was, and the map I'd printed off the Ibis website was as descriptive as a child's drawing. We ended up going around Calais, surrounded by tower blocks with boarded up windows. Calais was turning into a right little dump. For the extra £20, we should have stayed in Dover. Jim suggested a right turn, and we magically found ourselves outside the hotel! Even cooler, the Seat WTCC trucks were outside, and a Seat racer on a trailer was being reversed into position in the carpark. It was a good omen. The hotel was nice enough, certainly enough for me to disregard the funny look I got from the man checking us in.

When you book an Ibis - at least the one in Calais - you are asked how many people are in the party, and how many rooms you want, nothing more. We opened the door, and there stood a double bed. No couch to sleep on, no spare matress so I could sleep on the floor. Two men, an MX-5, and a double bed. It wasn't a good look, but luck was on our side. Not only did our 'double' bed turn out to be two singles pushed together (quickly separated, reducing the gayness of our situation by 37%) but the hotel had BBC2 which was showing the first couple of episodes of Long Way Round.

The following morning the daylight made Calais a far more pleasant place. We checked out, loaded up and headed off for breakfast. Jim was detirmined for a little authentic French fayre, and we were not disappointed. Fresh bread, croissants and thick, black coffee.

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/calais-street.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/jim-calais-breakfast.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/mx5-calais-front.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/mx5-calais-rear.jpg

A little shopping, top up the car, and in relaxed mood we head off to meet the others. I hadn't actually seen any of them in person since last year, though the emails had flowed continuously. The group was just as awesome as last year, though sadly a few folk couldn't make it. We were back amongst friends, and making good progress across Europe. One of the motorway stops saw a bright orange 911 GT3 RS pull in at racing speed. Obvlious to everything he kept his head down as though he was checking his sat-nav. As quick as he came, he left... Both the sight and sound continued as the luminous dot disappeared over the horizon, taking the noise with it...

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/gt3-petrol-stop.jpg

Saw a low ridin' Golf too...

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/golf-low-front.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/golf-low-rear.jpg

The same tanker Nige came across slowed the traffic a little, but mostly we just kept going. A quick splash and dash towards the end split us up from the group, and Jim drove us off the major roads into the twisties leading to Adenau.

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/jim-incar.jpg

That first sight of the mountains, the trees, the valleys and the beautiful houses leading upto Adenau took my breath away, just like it did 13 months ago. There should be a sign: You are now leaving reality.

Around the back of the Blau Ecke we parked up and had poke around the guest house. The suit of armour in made me jump, but the rooms were pretty nice. We were lucky that we had a shower you could stand up in (and, we found out later, hot water unlike some) but otherwise a nice little room is an interesting old building. Cars were being fettled, the MX-5 had the rubbish removed, and we headed upto the track. Even the winding road up the hill was etched on my mind from last year, but that first glimpse of the straight, the flags, the car park, it was just wonderful to be back. After everything that had happened, we'd made it.

Tickets were bought and we ventured out. The pads still hadn't bedded in fully so the brakes were suffering and braking areas were treated with a lot of respect. It hit me then just how far from real life the computer games are. The corners were in the right order for sure, but I was slow and not very smooth, Jim too. Then, thanks to Nige, my whole approach changed.

Last year I thought I'd lost my Ring virginity with that first lap. Turned out I'd done little more than have a fumble around in the Nurburgring's knickers. I saw Nige in the car park looking over a Golf. I said hello, exchanged pleasentries about the trip over, then Nige asked if I wanted a lap. Who was I to say no?

Getting into the little Golf and strapping myself into the seat, I didn't think too much. I'd only ever been round the track with Jim, and vice versa, and as the Golf has a similar amount of power to the MX-5, how much quicker could it be?

A lot quicker. Very quick indeed.

I knew I wasn't quick, I'd only done 4 laps in my life, but alongside Nige I realised just how quick you can be. He was stamping on the brakes, really leaning on the tyres, and taking corners flat that I'd have braked and changed down a couple of gears for. That one lap probably took a couple of minutes off my lap time, and it made me realise the value of seeing what is possible. It's as though Jim and I had been marking our speed against each other, but operating at such a low level. Suddenly corners became flat, apexes later and more speed carried. Don't get me wrong, we still had to build up the speed, but as the brake pads got upto speed, so did our confidence. I finished the evening session, and Jim said I was faster than him. A nice feeling, but I knew it was down to my lap with Nige.

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/nige-carpark.jpg
It's his fault... :D

A pleasant evening at Pinocchio's, a fair bit of Bitburger, then back to the bar at the Blau Ecke for a couple of drinks, finally meeting Michaela too. The suit of armour in the guest house made me jump, again, and a new found taste for gin and tonics made heavy work of the four locks between the outside world and my bed.

texas2201
12-08-2008, 06:54 AM
good report - is there more? Pax laps with someone who knows his/her way around are the best way to get to know your way around

Sounds like you had fun after all the trepidation prior to the trip

Martin

Gavin Beard
12-08-2008, 07:08 AM
From the number of laps the MX-5 did I am guessing there will be more...

Was nice to meet you both at the Ring :)

Karl
12-08-2008, 07:10 AM
Originally posted by F-stop Junkie@Aug 12 2008, 12:15 AM
That first sight of the mountains, the trees, the valleys and the beautiful houses leading upto Adenau took my breath away, just like it did 13 months ago. There should be a sign: You are now leaving reality.

<snip>

Last year I thought I&#39;d lost my Ring virginity with that first lap. Turned out I&#39;d done little more than have a fumble around in the Nurburgring&#39;s knickers.
Very, very entertaining read :lol: :thumb:

Oh and good on Nige for taking you round :thumb:

Chris Ratcliff
12-08-2008, 07:30 AM
There is absolutley more to come&#33; All that covers Wednesday and Thursday, so three more days&#33;

Simon
12-08-2008, 07:34 AM
Really enjoying reading this. There is more I presume?

alclark
12-08-2008, 03:39 PM
Very nice read so far&#33;

Chris Ratcliff
12-08-2008, 08:26 PM
The bells. The bells were ringing. The net curtains in the room were keeping out exactly no light at all, but I was in a nice little German town with the peeling of church bells, and it was… 5am. Who rings church bells at 5am? I eventually got back to sleep only to be woken by a road sweeper going around some hours later. I watched some video and reviewed photos for an hour before rousing Jim and heading down for a nice breakfast. We finished up the sticker job on the MX-5, including Jim managing to fit the sun visor without the use of a G-clamp or shattering his windscreen.

It also turned out that our room was one of only two with hot water (and the only one where you could actually stand up, that had hot water) so while we stickered, everyone else made use of the facilities, but this was very quickly fixed&#33;

A morning trying to get the Mazda&#39;s suspension geometry sorted without success, but a very nice drive following the MX-5 in a Mazda Bongo Friendee, was eventually abandoned as we decided the geometry was good enough, and Jim finally got his mitts on a tasty Uvex lid from the Dottinger Hole petrol station. It also gave us a bit of a drive round bits of Germany we wouldn&#39;t normally have seen. It&#39;s amazing how going through Adenau and then just going on further brings you out in some really gorgeous countryside - or Center Parcs if we&#39;d followed the signs. It also gave me a chance to gawp at some of the gorgeous wheels for hire from RSR, including a fleet of Alfa 75s that must have been George Lucas&#39;s inspiration when we was dreaming up the clone armies. One day I&#39;ll come renting and have someone to tell me where I actually should be driving&#33;

We headed to the track and immediately set about a couple of laps. The blazing sun was really heating the track and giving our Goodyear F1s a hard time, pulling onto the overflow carpark I could see Jim not just throwing up stones, but them actually sticking to the tyres. The track was suprisingly quiet, as it seems that a lot of the DTM crowd were camping and hanging around the main road by the main stands. The only indication was a weather station in a field in Nurburg and the occasional glimpse of a touring car going round T13 or on the run down to Hatzenbach.

The MX-5 was really hitting it&#39;s stride. A faint smell of brakes around Breidscheid, but the fast run out of Ex-Muhle and after Bergwerk seemed to cool them enough for the rest of the lap. Coming to the end of my first (and based on last year&#39;s performance, only planned) ticket Jim had taken his new lid off to protect himself from Nige&#39;s roll cage, so I offered a passenger lap to those standing nearby.

I was proud of my driving so far, but I approached every lap with caution throughout the whole trip. Asking for a passenger was nothing to do with ego or showing off, but a genuine offer to give someone else a bit of value from my lap.

Lawrence took the seat, and since he&#39;s used to scaring himself on a Yamaha 1000, how&#39;s he going to take to an MX-5? He removed various bits of padding from his bike leathers, and squeezed himself into the MX-5. As we&#39;re both 6&#39;4" - give or take - it must have looked a sight. I gave him the pre-flight run down; watch your leg on the tunnel, your foot is on the ECU, and don&#39;t put your hand there, I can&#39;t see the mirror. 12 minutes later, the helmet came off with a big, big smile underneath. He&#39;d loved it, and was even suprised by the cornering speeds. Another nice little confidence boost.

James, who&#39;d brought his 325 touring which usually pulls his Tiger race car, had already suffered this morning. The R888s had gone on, but there was an effort getting the rear suspension sorted. The hardware shop in Adenau had been able to supply M8 anti-shake washers (or growlers, as they&#39;re apparently known in Germany) and James had made it upto the overflow car park. I jumped in alongside and we headed out. It was James&#39; first lap, but it was a sure, steady effort, right upto the point where we had no brakes. Pedal on the floor into Wehrseifen was barely slowing us, so off we pulled at the bridge. The brake fluid was stone cold, so no option but to have an ice cream and spectate for a bit.

I love standing on the outside of Breidschied. You see all sorts of people on bikes or in cars racing down the hill, hard on the brakes, then they turn in and your gaze is filled with half race track, half small town. It&#39;s one of the few reminders of just how expansive the Nurburgring is, and also if you didn&#39;t know it was there, you could drive through Adenau and not even notice. Breidscheid is one corner I never really got to grips with either on my first trip as it&#39;s really intimidating, but this time I felt more committed, and - from the outside at least - it seemed others were sharing my line, give or take a bit.

I must here apologise for the lack of photos. Going through my folder from the weekend, it&#39;s almost like I&#39;ve forgotten a day. Very odd.

That night it was time to tidy up, shower from the extra-ordinary heat, and head back to Nurburg for the annual lump of exquisite raw cow, but first a quick chance to enjoy some Michael Bay light...

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/mx5-burst.jpg
Like Gran Turismo&#39;s Photo Mode apparently...

As usual, Porsches lined up outside the Tiergarten, but someone&#39;s obviously been busy since last year&#33;

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/hotel-castle.jpg

Looking around, seeing the photos, memorabilia and autographs, my eye falls on one. D.... Das....Das Chin? Following in the foot steps of Northloop trips passed :D

Back to the Blau Ecke bar - where I&#39;m sure Micheala never sleeps&#33; - for round ups of the day&#39;s activities. Beer and more Gin and Tonics were order of the night, before the early start caught up with everybody and we all trapsed off into our gothic tower for bed.

jon_r
18-08-2008, 01:28 PM
Anymore?&#33; Fantastic read so far. :thumb:

Chris Ratcliff
19-08-2008, 12:22 PM
Yes, two and a bit days to go. Just doing a push to try and get the photos sorted, while scribbling a paragraph here and there.

Don&#39;t worry, more wordy & over intellectualised trip reporting coming soon&#33; :D

Marty
21-08-2008, 10:22 AM
Good writeup so far, Chris. I was gutted I couldn&#39;t go with you lot this year, absolutely gutted. Blame Red Bull F1, making me stay at work writing code&#33;

I will get to the &#39;Ring this year somehow, I will. Even though my fiancee isn&#39;t keen on me spending the money, instead of putting it towards our wedding. And even though I don&#39;t have a car at the moment. Somehow, I&#39;ll get there and get some laps in...

Marty
21-08-2008, 10:26 AM
Oh, and top marks to Jim for working a minor miracle to get the MX-5 in such good shape in two weeks&#33; That&#39;s incredible work, and it looks a lot fitter than it did on last year&#39;s trip&#33;

PScullion
22-08-2008, 03:38 PM
Sorry about dropping out right at the last minute to go and support the wife during child birth. Poor timing really. Roll on next year plus I will probably be all grown up and have a roof box etc.

PSc

Chris Ratcliff
27-08-2008, 09:07 PM
Saturday morning was more light streaming through the mostly ineffective curtains and random noises of Adenau. I wanted a clear track though, and I knew annoying Jim would be a small price to pay. Up, showered, and a shoved into a small Japanese sports car isn&#39;t the best hangover cure ever, but arriving at a quiet car park was certainly worth it. I dashed to get a ticket before Jim and I did a lap each. The track was quiet and cooler meaning the tyres were hanging on better, but the mist was incredible. Jim pointed out on the drive to the track that we were effectively in low cloud, but approaching corners like Metzgefeld in fog was not ideal&#33; As the mist burnt off though, we were quickly picking up where we left of on Friday.

We headed back to the hotel and met the others for breakfast. It felt good already having a lap under our belts, like an automotive early morning jog. We helped fettle where we could, then - marvelling at the Mac Mini mounted in Nik&#39;s boot (linked upto a dash mounted touch screen and camera discretly mounted in the bumper) watched some footage from the previous day. Inspired, we rushed back up the hill for a couple more laps each. Visibility was now perfect, but the traffic was starting to build. I only had one lap all weekend where I really suffered with traffic, moving over to let strings of cars through, but now the speed was building Jim pointed out that we were now being overtaken less, and overtaking more people ourselves. Even my baby steps into the world of lap times couldn&#39;t stop the green Supra from overtaking though, and following him through Hatzenbach, the MX-5 died. No acceleration, all gauges on zero, nothing, just slowly coasting through the outside of the bends... I selected neutral and turned the key. The engine fired, thoughts of recovery trucks vanished and I started breathing again.

On aspect of all the upgrades I didn&#39;t like from the Mk2.5 MX-5 was the six speed box. The gate is really narrow, and the only way to ensure the gear engaged is the one you mean, is to be quite slow and methodical and rely on the spring bias to give you a starting point. Not really what you want in the heat of a lap. My own theory for the mystery stall was I&#39;d dropped from fifth to fourth in Hatzenbach, but accidentally got sixth. Without the power I expected I lifted off and coasted. A bit of a cough and the engine stalled. It kept on giving both Jim and I problems all weekend, including buzzing reverse on the motorway, as at several points we also couldn&#39;t agree between us on the right gear, such as the exit of AF, or Steilstrecke where I&#39;d turn in with third gear and use the torque and a wide exit, where Jim would drop the car to second and need a gear change just after the apex. We never really worked that out either way. I can&#39;t help but feel that a 5 box is more suited to the Ring, unless you have a chunk more power...

After last year&#39;s photo exploits, there&#39;s a few spots I&#39;d wanted to see, and one of them was the outside of the Karussell. I had a rough idea of how to get there, and both Nik and Jim were up for a bit of exploring. Of course we took several wrong turns, we had to leave the MX-5 when the going got too rough, and finally the Golf was overcome with the chewed up dirt tracks. We wandered where I thought we should go, and saw a small wood sign marked Karussell. Up a small bank, we came out at the marshall&#39;s post. All three of us smiled and exclaimed just how cool it was. As the track was shut, we leant over the barrier to touch the track, we took various shots, and just couldn&#39;t believe how cool it was to stand at such a iconic corner, inches from the track. We waited, I took a few frames to make into a pano.

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/karrusell-pano-high.jpg

Then the action started. Cars streaming through, some taking an early entry to the banking - like I had been - while others tipping in later. It was also apparent who had the cleanest line, with many cars taking to the flat on the inside, and even bikers with their knee down. Save of the day must go to the driver of a white, stickered up vintage 911 who caught a slide on the banking, brought it back in line perfectly, and lost the bare minimum of speed. Stunning driving. At one point Graham came past on his Ducati up on the flat, pointing at the right side of his bike... Looking at the photos on the camera, we could see a missing wing mirror and heavily scuffed paint work. Turns out he&#39;d lost the beast at Bergwerk and gone into the barrier. Nothing too major, aluminium tape over the hole in the exhuast can, and he lived to fight another day.

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1416.jpg

The Karussell presents some interesting photographic challenges, how to do the corner justice. I played around with longer lenses, fisheyes, different focus points, static camera, panning, all sorts... The whole area is so expansive, it just gives you as a photog so many options. It&#39;s amazing.

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1228.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1290.jpg

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http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1271.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/karrusell-pano-cars.jpg

Having decided to call it a day there (and just missing getting shots of Steve Gill&#39;s Prost-like approach to driving; fast, smooth, completely unfussed) Jim went out for more laps while Nik and I met up with James and Raoul at Brunnchen 2 for some panning shots. Still getting used to IS, and deciding to go with 1/80th of a sec instead of my usual 1/125th meant some really bad misses. Still, I did get some nice shots of a Swiss 911 GT2 losing it at Brunnchen 1 and delicately avoiding the armco. I saw the driver the next day and told him I&#39;d got shots. His passenger excitedly thrust a business card my way asking for the photos. The driver seemed less keen...

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1535.jpg
http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1537.jpg
http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1540.jpg

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With rain in the air, I wanted to get back and use up the last of my 2nd 4 lap ticket. A quicker still, smooth lap really getting on top of Miss-Hit-Miss - though not as fast or committed as some&#33; - and a moment trail braking into Eschbach, and feeling the back end start to load up. Just as we got back to the overflow, the rain started. I had a quick chat with Trevor Wood and his monster R32, but with the rain falling more heavily we had to leave and head back to the hotel. We&#39;d been waiting for this. The Track Walk.

Fortunately we&#39;d brought wet weather gear and sturdy boots, as well as my trusty BAR-Honda brolly, but some others waiting for the mini-buses weren&#39;t quite so prepared and looked very cold&#33; Dale turned up in a t-shirt and brolly-less, though some did appear to keep everyone dry (and most still with price labels flapping in the wind). The track walk itself really was something else, and even those who weren&#39;t driving enjoyed both the experience of being on the tarmac and taking in the immense cambers and gullys that are so obvious when you&#39;re on foot, and almost transparent when you&#39;re at speed. Dale&#39;s delivery was great, and his obvious, immense knowledge of the place was a real boost to us all. Believe me, you have no idea how grippy a wet line can be until you&#39;ve felt the sole of your shoe skating across normally grippy tarmac like ice on your normal line. Also &#39;101 ways to crash at the Karussell&#39; would be a great addition to YouTube. His warning about Bergwerk being tighter than some expect was already ringing in our ears, but the skid marks Dale pointed out as someone who got it wrong belonged to Graham&#39;s bike.

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1660.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1661.jpg

A chinese - where Dale turned up shortly after, great minds and that... - was a very pleasant end to the day. Especially when we spotted a leather hat in a cupboard. Being far too polite to just take it, we asked if we borrow it for a moment from the owner. A slightly confused &#39;of course&#39; followed, then this...

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1662.jpg

Even a brace of gin and tonics couldn&#39;t stop Dale&#39;s words of wisdom ringing round my head. A car length past the turn in marker at the end of Hatzenbach, aim for marshall post 103, aim for the end of the rumble strip on the exit of Bergwerk...

Chris Ratcliff
28-08-2008, 12:09 AM
My body seems to have an odd reaction to being in Germany. I wake up stupidly early, hangovers are little more than a light mist of good memories and soft headedness, and I wake up with one aim. Laps. I bundle Jim into the MX-5 despite the fact he may still be medically asleep, and we head up. The track is open, clear and relatively cold. I&#39;ve never really been convinced about the whole &#39;getting heat into your tyres&#39; thing until I started feeling a little out of control over the crest into Plantzgarten, creeping across the track as the slip angle overwhelms the molten Goodyears. Early is quiet, cold should help the tyres.

I pull up near the office, run in to buy a new ticket like I&#39;m punching my time card on the Cannonball Run, Jim has crawled into his Uvex lid and we&#39;re off. This morning is all about putting into practise what Dale talked about on the track walk, and I&#39;m instantly scribing huge arcs through Flugplatz, and committing more to Kellenhard. The more I feel confident in my line, the more I notice people off theirs. It&#39;s been 50 Euros well spent, and certainly shows the value of instruction... I have a feeling I&#39;ll be knocking on RSR&#39;s door in 09 for some tuition&#33;

With two laps each, Jim takes out Matty Pinder, probably one of the most experienced passengers out there&#33; He may not have been overwhelmed with the 140bhp the 5 was kicking out, or the fact that Jim has probably driven 10% of the laps Matt has passengered, but the verdict was positive; smooth and decent lines. High praise indeed.

I point out to Jim that at this point on the previous year&#39;s ring trip, the MX-5 had stopped at Brunnchen 2 with no oil or water in the top third of the engine. The brakes would usually fade by Breidschied too. This year, just now, it has done five laps at a much higher speed than last year with no drama at all, not even a whiff of brakes. To even begin to consider how much was done on this car prior to leaving the UK, it&#39;s a testament to Jim&#39;s spannering ability that the car performed so well. It even handled well, and inspired confidence in both Jim and myself. The only mechanical we really had manifested itself in the slower, tighter corners - Kallenhard especially. A groan from the wheel arch that disappeared as the lock came off, but eventually became constant. Arriving back at the overflow, everyone was looking at our front right corner, and we quickly found the problem. The fairly soft suspension (for a fast road/track kit) and higher loads had caused the tyre to wear through the wheel arch liner&#33; That was a quick and easy fix&#33;

The track was now closed due to the Civic making a mess all the way down to Aremberg. It was a great chance to meet and greet other Northloopers, and share battle stories as well as ooohing and aaaahing when *another* emergency services vehicle turned up, then pulled onto the track...

This was the only time the track really appeared to be busy, so I stuck on my 85mm F1.8 lens and did some &#39;street&#39; photography.

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1672.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1673.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1677.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1679.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1680.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1681.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1685.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1688.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1689.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1691.jpg

The crazy sunnies of Shak

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1692.jpg

Loads of camber, and slightly too much pressure? Nige&#39;s tyre...

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1693.jpg

Guess who&#39;s idea this was...

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1694.jpg

Some woman...

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1699.jpg

Some cheeky bloke...

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1700.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1704.jpg

Brown cars are the future. White is so last week.

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1706.jpg

Steve Gill, prepared, focussed.

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1707.jpg

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1709.jpg

The battle bus

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1710.jpg

Jim Cameron
28-08-2008, 07:27 AM
Fantastic Report&#33; Really enjoying it....

BCA
28-08-2008, 05:53 PM
lovely car too, what are the elise seats like? are they quite comfortable?

Chris Ratcliff
29-08-2008, 12:25 AM
They&#39;re actually suprisingly comfortable&#33; Doing motorway miles can make you numb after a while, and peeling yourself out of them after a few hours takes a bit of doing if you fill it comfortably (like I do&#33;).

However, doing laps or just concentrating on the job in hand, they&#39;re excellent. I never, ever thought about the seat, but it holds you in really well.

My one reservation would be though that the quality doesn&#39;t seem all that. I&#39;m no expert in seats, but it&#39;s not what I&#39;d expect to come out a £20 grand car...

BCA
29-08-2008, 01:06 AM
Cool, I am tempted to get a set to shove in the Smart, should fit in with the rest of the fisher price interior then. :thumb:

Shak
01-09-2008, 08:30 PM
Awesome report and photos, Chris&#33; :thumb:

Shak
01-09-2008, 08:34 PM
YIKES how did he lose it?&#33; :blink:

http://fstopjunkie.net/images/nltrip08/CRW_1535.jpg

Chris Ratcliff
27-11-2008, 10:27 PM
Sorry everyone, been suffering from trip report fatigue... I will put more up&#33; How Nige kept going so long, I&#39;ll never know&#33;

I guess the GT2 must have got the right wrong, gone too fast, and stayed on the power...

Oh, and I overtook that GT2 in the MX-5. Not Dale-style giant killing, just him going *very* slowly... :D

NickD
29-11-2008, 12:31 PM
Just read your report, which has served to add to my sulk of not being able to get back to the Ring anymore this year.
I was interested to read about your feelings with the 6 speed box. It&#39;s rare to see comments as most people don&#39;t seem to have them but I have managed to get through two of them&#33;" You are right, the gate is very narrow and sometimes 3 can also bulk. The issue you will probably also have is that unless you have the final drive as well, you will be constantly changing gear. There is about a 30% difference in ratio due to the 6 speed box, so if you were on a standard MK1 or 2 diff, you will spend all your time changing gear. For my last trip I had just the opposite, I fitted a standard 5 speed and found it was like having no 3rd gear because the final drive is so high and there was no acceleration at all. I actually had to use second for some corners as 3rd would leave me around 3,500 rpm which is not the place to be in a 5.

Nige
29-11-2008, 01:01 PM
Originally posted by F&#045;stop Junkie@Aug 28 2008, 12:09 AM
With two laps each, Jim takes out Matty Pinder,..... the verdict was positive; smooth and decent lines. High praise indeed.
High praise ? mate, you have no idea..... :lol:

I have had to explain to him that a grown man doesn`t usually take kindly to a 13 year old saying "you turned in too early there, you can carry much more speed through that corner, well that line wasn`t very good &#33;" etc etc Even Karl wouldn`t take him out :whistle:

He has now (hopefully) learnt to be a little more diplomatic in his critique, but "smooth and decent lines" is really rather good ;)

I`d missed this report, just read it from start to finish, thoroughly enjoyable read :thumb: . Pleased you enjoyed the passenger lap, I really enjoy giving them :thumb:

Floyd
29-11-2008, 06:24 PM
Originally posted by Nige@Nov 29 2008, 02:01 PM
High praise ? mate, you have no idea..... :lol:

I have had to explain to him that a grown man doesn`t usually take kindly to a 13 year old saying "you turned in too early there, you can carry much more speed through that corner, well that line wasn`t very good &#33;" etc etc Even Karl wouldn`t take him out :whistle:

He has now (hopefully) learnt to be a little more diplomatic in his critique, but "smooth and decent lines" is really rather good ;)

I`d missed this report, just read it from start to finish, thoroughly enjoyable read :thumb: . Pleased you enjoyed the passenger lap, I really enjoy giving them :thumb:
There&#39;s no way I&#39;m taking him out now that I know that :lol: I&#39;ve had enough of Teffers critique :angry: ;)

JamesW
29-11-2008, 08:20 PM
excellent report, i was there at that time too, do you have any more photos to post up?

Darren Langeveld
29-11-2008, 08:29 PM
Originally posted by Floyd+Nov 29 2008, 07:24 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Floyd @ Nov 29 2008, 07:24 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Nige@Nov 29 2008, 02:01 PM
High praise ? mate, you have no idea..... :lol:

I have had to explain to him that a grown man doesn`t usually take kindly to a 13 year old saying "you turned in too early there, you can carry much more speed through that corner, well that line wasn`t very good &#33;" etc etc Even Karl wouldn`t take him out :whistle:

He has now (hopefully) learnt to be a little more diplomatic in his critique, but "smooth and decent lines" is really rather good ;)

I`d missed this report, just read it from start to finish, thoroughly enjoyable read :thumb: . Pleased you enjoyed the passenger lap, I really enjoy giving them :thumb:
There&#39;s no way I&#39;m taking him out now that I know that :lol: I&#39;ve had enough of Teffers critique :angry: ;) [/b][/quote]
Are you scared of Apex&#39;s? :whistle:

Matti has been a passenger with me several times in different cars. He&#39;s more than welcome anytime :thumb:

Chris Ratcliff
30-11-2008, 03:20 PM
Originally posted by JamesW@Nov 29 2008, 09:20 PM
excellent report, i was there at that time too, do you have any more photos to post up?
All my photos from the trip are up in my Ring 08 gallery&#33; (http://gallery.fstopjunkie.net/index.php?cat=4)

IPreferRoadsWithCurves
30-11-2008, 04:41 PM
The 6 speed box came from the mk2.5 donor. I&#39;d noticed some play on the input shaft on my 5 speed, so decided to use the 6. I was going to use my origonal diff as I&#39;d had a KAAZ lsd fitted to it, but I didn&#39;t have time or the tools (7-inch micrometer ~£300&#33;) to swap the final drive so used the mk2.5 diff as well.
The change is no where near as good as the 5 speed, and although the point of a 6 speed is to get the ratios closer together, it just meant too many gear changes, and constantly wanting to change your mind about which gear to use - not what you want when your trying to learn the lines&#33;
I think I may rebuild the 5 speed and put that back in, with the KAAZ diff, but using the new diff casing and drive shafts.

Floyd
30-11-2008, 05:00 PM
Originally posted by Herr Teflon+Nov 29 2008, 09:29 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Herr Teflon @ Nov 29 2008, 09:29 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
Originally posted by Floyd@Nov 29 2008, 07:24 PM
<!--QuoteBegin-Nige@Nov 29 2008, 02:01 PM
High praise ? mate, you have no idea.....* :lol:

I have had to explain to him that a grown man doesn`t usually take kindly to a 13 year old saying "you turned in too early there, you can carry much more speed through that corner, well that line wasn`t very good &#33;" etc etc Even Karl wouldn`t take him out :whistle:

He has now (hopefully) learnt to be a little more diplomatic in his critique, but "smooth and decent lines" is really rather good* ;)

I`d missed this report, just read it from start to finish, thoroughly enjoyable read* :thumb:* . Pleased you enjoyed the passenger lap, I really enjoy giving them* :thumb:
There&#39;s no way I&#39;m taking him out now that I know that :lol: I&#39;ve had enough of Teffers critique :angry: ;)
Are you scared of Apex&#39;s? :whistle:

Matti has been a passenger with me several times in different cars. He&#39;s more than welcome anytime :thumb: [/b][/quote]
Not scared, just don&#39;t know where they are :lol: I thought my instructor may have helped me out there :whistle:

Floyd
30-11-2008, 05:11 PM
You&#39;ve captured Steve Gill &#39;in the zone&#39; really well :D

Chris Ratcliff
30-11-2008, 06:02 PM
Rereading my report, it&#39;s not clear that Jim (the MX-5&#39;s owner and person who puts his car (and life&#33;) in my hands for a few Germanic days each year) is IPreferRoadsWithCurves on here.

He used to be called Jim The Rocket Scientist thanks to his job mucking about with jet engines, but several in our group renamed him Jim The Rocket after passenger laps... He also knows a lot about MX-5s, Minis and suspension in general.

And structural engineering stuff.

I may post an embarrassing photo later :)

Nige
30-11-2008, 06:45 PM
Originally posted by Herr Teflon@Nov 29 2008, 09:29 PM
Matti has been a passenger with me several times in different cars. He&#39;s more than welcome anytime :thumb:
He says your laps are `warm, cosy and comfortable` :lol:

Floyd
30-11-2008, 08:53 PM
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Stace
02-12-2008, 02:52 PM
Great report. Enjoyed that :thumb:

Must try and get to the outside of the Karussell next trip B)

pye21
06-12-2008, 06:06 PM
Im not sure how missed this thread&#33;&#33;

Awesome report though, i lovwe the car, looks &#39;right&#39; :thumb: