A Drive To Remember......

For the last 25 years or so, I’ve been avidly watching motorsport either on the TV, in the grandstands or from a media centre in recent times. However, I was finally able to experience first-hand just how a racing car performs from the passenger seat at the Lausitzring this past June, just 90 minutes south of Berlin Schöenefeld airport. So what was the chariot that was to quite literally amaze me over two laps of this track? A 2011 BMW M3 (E92) GT2. I’d been duly informed that this particular car raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE Pro class that very same year. And the driver? None other than Ex-DTM ace and former BMW works ace, Dirk Werner. As with any type of Race Taxi Experience, safety is a key factor in ensuring everyone is safe and enjoys the experience. So after checking in, and being issued with a race suit, helmet and fireproof balaclava, we were provided with a five-minute briefing by some of the mechanics, before we were ushered as a group to the pit lane entrance.

After walking past the gates and heading to pit lane entry, Dirk was warming up the M3, whilst Lucas Luhr was behind the wheel of the M4 DTM that Timo Glock raced last year. Before I knew it, my time had come. So I walked over to the passenger side of this 500-hp monster, being assisted into the passenger seat and tightly strapped in. It was just how impressive the construction of the interior was, despite any soundproofing or lack thereof, a bespoke LCD dash panel for the driver. Then it dawned on me just how far back you actually sit in the car. Not what I was expecting. Dirk asked me if I was ready after a brief chit chat, and I basically said to him this: “Dirk, if you want to try and scare the sh*t out of me, go right ahead.” If you say that to a professional racing driver, that’s all that they need for an excuse to go fast. As the fans were swarming down pit lane for the customary event that happens to meet their favourite DTM drivers, Dirk buried the throttle as soon as we made our way out on track. In an instant, my senses were being brutally assaulted from every angle, but the adrenaline was in full flow from the word go.

Heading into turn one came fast and furious, before my lungs were in close proximity of my ribcage when Dirk braked hard, 100 metres before the sweeping left hand turn one. The sheer magnitude of how quick the stopping power was on that Munich monster was nothing short of impressive, as it’s another world altogether when you think of the cars that are on the road today. After the bumpy straight and demanding pull into turn one, Dirk was accelerating through the almost-straight turn two, before sweeping into turns three and four, whilst compensating with the same level of brakes and throttle. A short blast into turn five and you’re then heading onto the back straight, with the right-hand side of the car almost kissing the wall at the top of the banking. Six comes up thick and fast, as drivers will have their own racing line coming into the approach, as they brake and then hit the throttle. This was before going into another technical part of the infield track where turn seven opens up, allowing the drivers to accelerate once again towards the very tight turn eight.

Another short run up to turn nine, the drivers will start to brake from around the 150 metre board, before turn ten seeing the drivers accelerate all the way through. The chicane-esque turns 11 and 12 lead onto the start-finish straight, where the drivers floor it through at around 240km/h, ahead of taking another trek around the 3.478-km circuit. So after two adrenaline-fuelled laps at Lausitz, the experience came to an end. I was on a natural high, still buzzing from the thrills I’d just witnessed by my very own eyes. A few weeks’ later, I meet two people that still work for BMW Group Classic at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed. The guy that strapped me in the car and did the safety briefing, as well as a very entertaining Dutch guy that knows a certain Tom Coronel very well. It's a very small world, isn't it? Now the news is out that Dirk has now decided to move on from the powerhouse at Munich, as he partners Patrick Pilet in one of the new 911 RSRs that will compete in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Challenge. Viel Glück und viel Spaß bei deiner neuer Herausforderung, Dirk, und vielen Dank für das Erlebnis meines Lebens.

A big thanks to Kristin Heinrich for being there, and taking some pics.

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