Thursday, July 3, 2014

Day Seven - Nurburgring Nordschleife - OMG!

For those who don't know, the Nurburgring Nordschleife (North Loop) is the now infamous former Grand Prix circuit last used in the 1970s, scene of Niki Lauda's horrific crash and fire which so nearly claimed his life.  These days it is still used as a race circuit for less powerful machinery, but also has become a Mecca for idiots, sorry drivers, to test their mettle in their own cars on its 13 miles and 73 bends.  Today I was one of those idiots, sorry drivers.

The day started badly when first I broke my little GoPro camera which was going to film us driving around. One of our fellow UK contingent came to the rescue to charge the batteries for me.  Then we couldn't find our way to the circuit due to many road works in the area!  We were one of several cars that kept bumping into each other on various diversions!  Don't follow me, I'm lost too!!  At least the sun was shining ....

When we eventually made it to the circuit we headed straight out on a 'sighting lap' with a restricted speed and no overtaking - both of which were completely ignored by one of the many race drivers testing at the circuit.  When the track 'went green' (no restrictions) we did two cautious laps still finding our way around the circuit and trying to avoid the many cars who we're going a lot quicker than we were (they were measuring their lap times in 10ths of a second, we were using a calendar!).

To build a bit of confidence I booked a 'Follow Me' session for a solo drive with an instructor which was really worthwhile.  Reinvigorated Angela joined me again and out we headed with her strict instructions ringing in my ear - "don't crash!"  As if .....

We did a three lap stint then headed for the exit as we were already running low on fuel.  We joined the queue at the one and only local fuel station before returning to the track for a planned two laps.  However on pretty well the first bend a UK driver in a BMW (of course) lost control and hit the barriers hard ahead of us.  This bought out the red flag closing the track (not the first time today but the first while we were on track) so we had a leisurely cruise back to the car park.

Track cleared we headed out once again for another planned two laps, but partway round it looked like we were trailing blue smoke from the exhaust so this ended up being another slow cruise back.  Everything looked fine so we decided it was time for Angela to have a drive .... in the car park!  We thought that was enough for one day, we had survived (which can't be said for all of the UK contingent - two will not be driving their cars home tomorrow!) so our final tally was nine exhilarating laps.

Tomorrow we return to the UK ... :-(  ... But it won't be the end of the blog!  Keep watching for a post script on the trip from Angela (she won't show me what she's written!).

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