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Nige
06-06-2006, 11:48 AM
Nigels May 2006 Nurburgring report.


Trip 2


This trip had been planned since January and some friends had also asked to tag along with their 2 kids. They had heard me go on about how good it was the first time, they just had to experience it for themselves. We planned to leave 6am Saturday, drive to Dover, get the 12pm Ferry to Dunkerque then drive through France and Belgium to Germany. We had booked for 3 nights accommodation at the Hotel Wihelmshoe.

The alarm went off at 5:30 am, quick shower and into a car that was packed the night before. The sat nav said it was 9 ½ hours and 600 miles until our destination. Had a great run down the M1, stopped for the kids a couple of times, but we had a pair of walkie-talkies so could tell each other when we were stopping. The M25 was no problem and we arrived in Dover at 10:20 after hitting no traffic jams at all, just slowing for roadworks, although never stopping..

The ferry left 20 minutes late, we headed straight to the canteen and had a good meal to help us on our way. I managed to get 30 minutes sleep on the ferry and we were ready to go as soon as it docked.

The Sat Nav sent us on our way and we cruised at 80 – 85mph all through France and Belgium. It didn’t seem worth chancing a speeding ticket for the sake of saving a few minutes on such a long journey. We hit Germany and Mov (the other family) called me on the walkie talkie to ask if I knew when the de-restricted autobahn started. I told him that I hadn’t gone that way before, but we rounded the next corner and saw the de-restricted sign. The road was empty and dead straight, so Mov was eager to open up his new Skyline. We both put our foot down and as expected, he pulled away. However, when he hit 130mph, the speed limiter cut in and he could go no faster. I was not stuck with such a problem and hit 151mph. Cruising past him with the kids laughing in the back that he couldn’t keep up. We slowed down to a more sensible speed and covered a large amount of autobahn in not very long at all….

We arrived at the Hotel at 7:45pm with me having made 1 wrong turn, I turned 400yards too early for a rest stop and we had to turn around and rejoin the motorway. I was quite happy with only going wrong for 1 mile in 600…. Jacqueline who owned the hotel was expecting us and showed us to our room. We had a quick shower, emptied a weeks worth of camping gear out of the car and went down to meet for a meal.

Whilst emptying the car, we met Ian and Jude who we had met last year and had planned this 2nd trip with. They were just checking in, then going straight out to eat at the Pistenklause. Ian quickly told me his tale of woe with his super DSG gearbox on his A3 playing up and spoiling his day. Friday had been heavy rain and all the running had been steady but Saturday had the odd bright spell and when the track dried out, he found he could not do more than 1 lap without the gearbox bringing up an error and going into safe, get you home mode. He was NOT impressed…

The meal was excellent, we had a couple of beers and went to bed ready for an early start and drive to the ring. Breakfast was not served until 9am, so we planned to get to the ring, do a few laps when it was quiet, then return for breakfast at 9:30, go back to the ring and have a steady day. Jacqueline saw us as we were getting the cars ready to leave and said we could have an early breakfast if we wanted to. We took her up on this offer and left for the ring at 8:00. Mov and I bought a 25 lap ticket each and as we were preparing to set out on our first lap of the day, Ian pulled into the carpark and followed us out. The track was damp everywhere and the first lap was driven accordingly. I only got one corner wrong when I went in a little too fast and the back end was a little `light`. Pulled into the car park and waited for Mov to appear. They were all grinning when they got back in and like most of us on the first ever lap, he admitted to finding the whole thing quite daunting but exciting at the same time.

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He was quite admant about taking it steady and not pushing in the early laps at all. I went out almost immediately for another lap, it was drying very quickly and this was a quicker and more enjoyable lap. The track was getting a little busier and a few motorbikes were venturing out by now.

When we returned to the car park we found the usual chaos in the car park and with 1 bike parking in the middle of a car park spot every now and then, it didn’t exactly help ease the parking problems, which only got worse throughout the day.

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I showed Ian my bulletcam and he said he would follow me out for a lap. As the cam was rear facing, he thought it would be great fun to get close and make sure he filled the screen as much as possible. Fortunately he isn’t a nutter (most of the time..) and only got close on a clear section and when he knew I wouldn’t be braking suddenly. The camera was playing up, the result of a loose connection than I would not diagnose until that evening, so most of the first days footage was very hit and miss, which was very annoying.

The car park was filled with the usual exotics, last year there seemed to be a lot of Ferraris, this year it was the Porsches that seemed to be everywhere. GT3`s were not uncommon at all, people hardly gave them a second glance. However, there was a gorgeous Yellow Carrera GT, most people thought it was the one featured in EVO magazine.

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There was a Noble M12 GTO driven by the very friendly Paul. I had spoken to him on the forums before going out and he said he would be willing to give me a lap sometime over the weekend. Whilst waiting, I saw Gary and Clare come into the carpark in Clares Blue Golf R32. He had also been kind enough to offer me a passenger lap and I took him up on his offer.

He was obviously a veteran of the ring and was extremely smooth. He was heel and toeing and jumping the kerbs like a touring car driver !. The lap was very very enjoyable and the golf not only handled well, but pulled really well too. I don’t time the laps, so don’t know how fast it was, but I can say it was quicker than I drove all weekend. Thanks for that Gary !. I didn’t get the opportunity to repay the lap as I seemed to miss Gary when the track was open, hopefully I`ll be there when he is sometime in the future and will be able to give him a lap and let him give me some pointers.

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The track was fully dry and I went out for another lap. Ian was a passenger as he needed to let the Audi cool down, as usual he was offering welcome suggestions to lines and braking points. I knew I was still making the novice mistake of braking too late and missing turn in points on several corners, he pointed that out most of the time, but generally kept quiet and just commented on the handling of the Mazda. I said it was all down to the driver, but he didn’t think so…

On our return to the carpark, I saw Dave and Clare Malings come into the carpark. I went over and had a quick chat. I`d been meaning to ask for a passenger lap in the Clio, for some reason I never got round to it, I`ll try harder to remember next time.

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I also met Rossi, I didn’t know who he was at first, but I saw he was wearing a Saint Helens fleece, as I`m a Bradford fan, I couldn’t help but go over and talk Rugby, soon the conversation turned to the ring and Northloop, from there he realised who I was and introduced himself and his friend.

The track was closed and as it was lunchtime anyway, it was a good time to go to Pflanzgarten to grab a bite to eat and wait for the track to reopen and get some photos. I assume there is some kudos with being the first out on track after a closure as the BMW that came round first when the track reopened was flashing his lights and the passenger was waving at everyone.

We returned to the carpark and I went out with my 2 kids and Movs 2 kids, that was a 9 year old, 2 11 year olds and a 13 year old in the car. They laughed the whole way round. Obviously I didn’t drive as fast as I would without them in the car, but still quick enough for them to enjoy it as much as me. When I played back the video all you could hear was kids laughter, there was no question that they were enjoying themselves !

Had a chat to Pete_rallye, I`d seen his posts on the forum and it was good to put a face to the name. I asked if he gave passenger laps and he said he would find me later in the day if I was about and take me round.

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Went back and whilst chatting to Clare, she said that nobody had offered her a passenger lap all day, so I immediately offered to take her out for a lap. I had heard from several people that she is a smooth driver and after a few corners I noticed she was gripping the side of the seat with one hand and the overhead grab handle with the other. I asked if she was OK and got the reply “Now I remember why I don’t take passenger laps…” hmmm, I never realised I was that bad. Anyway, I pressed on, approached a corner and Clare said she didn’t like it as it was easy to miss the braking point, overshoot and miss the turn in point and apex. 5 seconds later I obliged and did exactly that, tyres squealing round the corner on what was most definitely not the optimum line. We approached the Wehrseifen corner and as I was now aware of Clares view of my driving, I braked earlier than usual so I would get a safe entry, unfortunately, as I was slower than normal, I turned at the Dot and the car turned sharper than usual, I went over the inside kerb with 2 wheels and they momentarily left the ground. I apologised and said that was the first time it had ever happened (which it was !), but by now I think Clare thought she was driving with someone who should have stuck to the Xbox.. The rest of the lap was pretty uneventful, but when we got back to the carpark, I felt I had to ask Dave to come for a lap with me, just to let me know if I was as bad as I thought Clare felt I was.

Pete_rallye wandered over and asked if I wanted the lap in his 306, I didn’t need asking twice and was soon strapping myself in with his 4-point harness. What followed was the most thrilling lap I have had so far on the ring. Pete is a firm believer in the fact that weight is a bad thing, so his car has no soundproofing, no inside door skins, plastic windows and is basically stripped out of anything that is unnecessary. The result is a car that is bloody loud, but is very quick. He was sliding round most of the corners, I thought it was just his normal driving style, but he said it was because the tyres had gone off and were not gripping properly anymore. I can only wonder how good they are when they are new. Hopefully I`ll be there one day to find out. He is getting a new engine fitted soon as the current one isnt powerful enough, well, he says its isnt anyway.

Had another lap with Louise as a passenger, in the complex after the Karussel, I saw a yellow Elise approaching, I pulled over and let him past, I think he only had to compromise 1 corner entry. The car had UK plates, so when I got back to the carpark I wandered over to say Hi. I asked if he was the driver of the car and for a moment I am sure he though I was going to thump him for some incident he had caused on the track. When I explained I was just checking I hadn’t held him up too much, he visibly relaxed !. Had a good chat, when I told him I was driving the Black Mazda, he seemed surprised, I think it was because the car was going better than most people expected.

Mov went out for a lap in his skyline, followed by Ian and myself. We caught up with him after a few minutes, he stayed in front for a little while, but said afterwards that we were distracting him, so he pulled over and let us through. As usual, Ian stayed behind me for ½ of the lap until Bergwerk then pulled out and passed me going up the hill. I don’t think he is a massive amount quicker up to that point, but as he always followed me, just so he could overtake me at that point, I`ll never know. The Mazda was holding up really well, by now I was passing several cars a lap. Its suprising how you suddenly realise that you are not having to pull over as much and cars are actually pulling over for you.

Left the track as it was closing and returned for another excellent meal and early night.

When we returned to the hotel, Mov said he thought his back brakes were either worn down, or almost worn away. The brake warning light had come on and he was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to do anymore laps. Ian said that ring racing were excellent and that they would go Monday morning and see it they could sort him out. Mov was pretty annoyed, 4 days previously he had gone to Kwik-Fit for 4 new tyres and asked them to check the brakes were OK whilst the wheels were off. They had assured him the brakes were fine, now a few days later they were worn away….

Next morning, Ian took Mov to ring-racing with Matthew and Josh, the girls had some shopping to do and went to Adenau. I was left at the hotel and offered to give Ians car a wash, ready for some photos at the track. The passenger side had a lovely thin film of oil on which was a result of his faulty DSG gearbox. However, after a good wash and chamois it was gleaming. Mov returned and unfortunately, ring racing had not been able to source any pads, but had assured him there was still friction material on the pads, although they would need changing on his return to the UK. We gave his car a quick wash then took a photo of us all next to our cars outside the hotel.

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On our way back to the track for the afternoon session, it started raining. Ian had told me that the wet was actually a good time to drive a lap or 2 as it made you drive the correct line though the corners. We went out for a steady lap and Mov followed. We returned to the carpark and were just wondering where Mov was when my mobile rang. It was Dave telling me that he had passed Mov facing the wrong way having hit the barrier. They were all OK and out of the car, but he couldn’t tell how the car was. A British guy had already stopped and was flagging cars down before the corner. I went to tell the marshalls but they had just had a call from someone else telling them.

After waiting a while, it was suggested I go out and pick up the kids and Louise while Mov waited with the car. I drove to where they had gone off and only saw a marshal sweeping some mud off the track. I eventually caught up with them near Pflanzgarten. After pulling alongside, I got a thumbs up and headed back to the carpark with news that they were OK and were driving back to the carpark.

Fortunately, nobody was injured, Mov had come out of the corner and had accelerated, being a rear wheel drive car, it had immediately thrown the back end round and they had headed straight into the barrier, bouncing off it and facing the wrong way then sliding parallel to the barrier for a few yards. Amazingly, all that was damaged was the front bumper, every other panel was unmarked, although mud was splattered down the side and over the bonnet. As it happens, Louise had the video camera in hand at the time of the crash and listening to the shouts of “Jesus”, then, a few seconds later, when the car was stationary, Gemma shouting “STOP” from that back seat just brought home how lucky they were. Mov went off to see how much damage he was going to have to pay for. The total was 450 Euro, which, although an unwanted expense, was much less than he had been expecting and was actually a relief.

Louise went out for a lap with Clare, she came back and said that Clare was very very smooth and she felt very safe for the entire lap. Clare gave Gemma (13 yrs old) a talk about not letting people say you cant do things just because you are a woman. Then proceeded to show her that she could drive just as well, if not better than a LOT of men out on the track...

The track was closed for another incident so someone suggested going to Adenau corner to take some photos. My son Matthew had been talking to Paul and asking him lots of questions about the Noble. I`m still not sure if Matthew asked, or Paul offered, but the next thing I knew, Matthew was getting strapped into the Noble for a lift to the Adenau corner ! He was grinning from ear to ear, I followed, but when Paul put his foot down, I could only watch as they shot down the road. Matthew has been talking about that ride for the rest of the week and I would like to say a huge thanks to Paul for giving him that ride.

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As it was a Monday, the barrier was open and we were saved the long walk up the hill and could drive all the way to the side of the track. The kids had a small tent that they put up and the girls were playing inside that. I had taken Holly too as she seemed to enjoy playing with Catherine last August and it was a change for her, rather than lapping the ring. I set up the video camera for Matthew and the digital camera for Louise. The camera is pretty new and unfortunately, she hadn’t quite got used to it so some photos are a bit blurred, we will practise before we go again though.

I left them at the viewing point and went back and straight onto the track. I had a walkie talkie with me and gave them a call when I was 30 seconds or so away so they could get some photos of me. My first lap past them and I got the entry wrong and had a pretty untidy route though the corner, the rest of the lap was fun and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Went back into the carpark and saw Ian, asked if he wanted to follow me for a lap again. Had a pretty clear lap, although I caught a VX220 before adenau, I still managed to get it better this time and with Ian close behind, Louise was able to get a brilliant photo.

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I saw Euan behind so pulled over and he passed us both, a few corners later the VX220 pulled over and let me past. As usual, despite my best efforts, Ian passed me up the hill, although I didn’t fall away too much for the rest of the lap. Even though I slowed a few times and got a few corners wrong, it was still a good lap for me, as it later turned out, I did a 9:24, which was 33 seconds faster than my last visit on my 21st ever lap.

Returning to the carpark and I saw Clare. She asked if I wanted to take Dave out for that lap. He sat in the front and Ian said he would sit in the middle in the back so as to distribute his weight evenly…. Dave seemed more relaxed as a passenger and suggested a couple of corners I could take much faster than I had done before, telling me to lift instead of brake for others and offering some very welcome advice. The lap was going pretty well, until we got behind a passat who decided that the middle of the track was where he should be. He compromised my exit out of Bergwerk and then pulled over to let me past. Unfortunately, he had more power than me so even though he pulled over, I couldn’t get past, that compromised the entire uphill section to the corner before the Karussel. On one corner (Klostertal I think) Dave came out with the comment “ well, normally you`d brake for this corner, but with the speed you`ve got now it will be flat”. Arrghhhh….. The rest of the lap went OK and coming to the mini karussel, I saw the yellow Ford GT behind.

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Dave suggested I pull over so we could hear his exhaust, windows were lowered and it powered past. The sound is amazing. A UK BMW M5 was following the Ford, so I stayed right and slow, assuming he would come past me into the corner, then I could follow, but he appeared to be staying back, I was just about the turn into the mini karussel when he decided that he actually did want to pass me and went down the inside. I didn’t realise you could take the corner that quickly on the outside, and once again, I went squealing round a corner on totally the wrong line. I don’t know if I should offer to take Dave of Clare for a lap again !!! ;-)

Paul in the Noble had been looking for Dave in the carpark, but as he couldn’t find him had asked Clare if she wanted a lap instead. Unsurprisingly, she didn’t need asking twice and went out for a lap. Dave was gutted when we got back to the carpark. He set off in the Clio for a lap and I hung about waiting to pounce on Paul when he returned for a passenger lap if possible. He came back and Clare was beaming saying it was probably the fastest she had ever gone round the ring. Paul had some adjustment to make on the steering but said I could have a lap when he had done. Unfortunately, the track then closed and it started to rain.

I went to fetch Louise and the kids and by the time I got to Adenau it was bucketing it down. We went back to the track but Paul understandably did not go out for any more laps that day.

I offered to take Mov and Gemma for a lap, Gemma was still a bit shaken up from the crash and didn’t want to go for another lap, but we decided that if she didn’t have a lap that day, the next time they wanted to go to the ring could be difficult, so when she was chatting near my car with Catherine, I quickly told them to get in and we`d go for a lap, she was reluctant, but not wanting to lose face, she got in. I drove steadily and promised I would not crash. About ½ way round I asked if she was OK, I received a curt reply “YES”. Then a few seconds later a mumbled “well, sort of…” I drove a very conservative lap and I think by the end of it she was feeling a bit better. Mov went out in his car afterwards. I know people say you should go out and get it out of your system, but I`m sure its easier said than done.

As the track was closing, Fishy Dave from Fast Films arrived and I showed him the bullet cam and some footage I had taken, he seemed suitably impressed. I suggested a lap with him, Dave & Clare, Ian & Jude following me with the rear facing camera to get some footage of a Northloop convoy. Another blue Clio also asked if he could come along, I had seen him though out the day but never got round to talking to him, it turned out his was from the forum too.

We set off for a very very wet lap of the ring, I could see OK, but the cars following said it was awful following another car in those conditions and Dave couldn’t imagine racing in that amount of spray. The footage turned out OK, but the spray meant you could not really see all the other cars as well as we had hoped.

Ian said his goodbyes and headed off for his now customary last minute dash across Europe to catch the Ferry. FishyDave wanted another lap and I offered to lead, so I could get some footage of him and he could also follow my lines though some corners. That was a first, me showing someone else lines round the Nurburgring ! The lap was even wetter than before but Dave said it really helped follow someone else and he too commented on how well the Mazda handled.

We said our goodbyes and left for the Hotel, but not before discussing to meet up with Ian & Jude back in the UK and trying to arrange another visit in 10 weeks…

We had another beautiful meal and reviewed our footage from the weekend. I didn’t get all the angles I wanted to, but for my first time with the Bullet cam and new camera, I was more than happy.

I was a little apprehensive about bringing my friends along. I had told them so much about the ring and the experience, I didn’t know if it would live up to their expectations. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves, obviously apart from the crash, and are planning to go again in September.

Louise and myself both thought that it wasn’t just driving round the ring that made the weekend so good, it was the whole atmosphere, everyone I spoke to was friendly and chatted about their visit. The whole ring experience was just as good the second time as it was the first, which was unexpected. I am sure going with just my family would still be a great weekend, but meeting up with people I had met on the internet who were all as happy to be there as I was made a good weekend become a great weekend.

I am still very happy with the performance of the Mazda. I know it s quite a big car, but I`m used to it and I know how fast I can take a corner and I can feel when it is getting near the limit. From the comments I have had from people over the weekend, I think it handles better than a lot of people expect for a family saloon. The fast street pads I fit before each ring visit are brilliant, they don’t fade at all and inspire confidence later in the lap. I have now had Goodyear F1 GS-D3`s fitted all round and their performance in the wet was very reassuring and predictable. The dry grip was excellent and to be honest, I don’t think I would swap them for any other road tyre at the moment. I would still love to turn up in the Mazdaspeed version and really surprise a lot of people though..

We are already planning out next visit in August, next time, I`ll get some better photos and video footage.


Nige.

pete_rallye
06-06-2006, 12:29 PM
Good report Nige!

GVK
06-06-2006, 05:33 PM
Yep, excellent stuff Nige - was good to meet you and the family last weekend :thumb:

IanHowell
06-06-2006, 06:02 PM
Great write up Nigel :thumb:

That Mazda of yours is a great car and you know it so well. I really enjoyed our chasing around the ring :gayfight:

I had a great time both on and off the track with you and your familly, and friends!

Thank you for making the whole trip more enjoyable.

Ian.

Euan
06-06-2006, 06:36 PM
Excellent report Nigel - enjoyed reading that. Good to meet you briefly, the Mazda was definitely shifting every time I saw it :thumb:

Euan

Root admin
06-06-2006, 06:40 PM
Excellent write up Nige! :D

JudeM
06-06-2006, 07:22 PM
Excellent report I enjoyed reading, brought back some very happy memories :D

mckeann
07-06-2006, 10:19 AM
good report. well written.

I'm the yellow elise :wave: . I was worried when you came storming over the car park, asking who was the driver of the elise. Did think i was gonna get a punch for a minute. :P

I would have taken you out for a lap, but had promised loadsa folk a pax lap, so didnt have time. we had planned to go back on the monday, but when it started raining again, we cut our losses and headed to spa.

simon_davis
07-06-2006, 10:42 AM
Hi Nige,

Nice report there - sounds like you all had a great time.

Was that 151mph indicated or actual (using GPS)? That's pretty good for a big family car - reminds me of my fathers Volvo 850 T5 - quiet for normal use, but put your foot down and it really flew! :whistle:

Take it easy now you are back in the UK & let us know the dates of your next trip so that I can arrange to go at the same time - I want a passenger lap with you to see how much quicker you are...bl**dy show off! Ha Ha :thumb: :lol:

Simon

pye21
07-06-2006, 11:19 AM
Very good write up Nige and it was nice to meet you.

Simon
07-06-2006, 11:36 AM
Very good report & well written. How did you remember it all :lol:

Nige
07-06-2006, 11:55 AM
Originally posted by Simon@Jun 7 2006, 11:36 AM
Very good report & well written. How did you remember it all :lol:
I remembered it as I was typing, bots came back to me that led on to other bits and so on.

I think because I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to get as much written down as possible so in mid winter when I`m wanting to go again, I can read it and cheer myself up.

I want to get more photos of parts of the voyage, like Clare & dave and GVK do in their reports, but apart from that I`m pretty happy with it.

Simon, the GPS showed 142 as the max speed.

Hi Pye, yeah, typically we didnt really have a chat before the end of Monday, it was pretty busy and you seemed to be on track as much as me.

Glad you all enjoyed reading the report, to me, this whole thing is part of the ring experience and what makes it so great.

Nige.

rossi
07-06-2006, 08:58 PM
nige
Great report and mor importantly greay meeting you.......

Still brings a smile to my face, the expression on yours, when I knew who you were and your name before I formally introduced myself

For all of you in the know.......com on you saints........

bet you dom't meet many supporters with my accent.......not that i've got one////

Hope to see you again was going to odsal on the 16th but the wife is going to tenerife so i'm looking after the second love of my life ....my dog harvey the cocker spaniel

list reads
1.honda intgra DC5 (yes the WHITE ONE)
2.HARVEY
3.SAINT HELENS
4.HE WIFE

Only joking saints and cathy are tied

Dave Malings
07-06-2006, 09:07 PM
Originally posted by rossi@Jun 7 2006, 09:58 PM
For all of you in the know.......com on you saints
Living in Northampton that means something a bit different.

The original saints (http://www.northamptonsaints.co.uk/)