Nurburgring Trackday by Circuit Days|Bridge To Gantry
I'd booked this trackday ten months in advance. Ten months is a stupidly long time to wait. I probably should have booked the April day. Anyway, lesson learned. The wait was over and it was time to head to Germany. After a few dramas on the way including turning up to Reading to meet Andrea about two hours late and the satnav stitching me up around the M20 I finally got to Dover with a bit of time to spare. I slept through most of the ferry crossing and had the first easy drive ever through Belgium to get to Adenau around lunchtime.
After a few whistle-stops to show Andrea the sights of the Eiffel it was time to check in at the lovely Landhaus Sonnenhof and then for a fantastic dinner at 27 Ventisette and an early night ready for a very early start on the Friday.
The alarm went off around 5:30, not so bad for me as that's the average workday time. Quick shower and it was time to head up to my friends at Rent4Ring in Nurburg. As always Nicholas had a perfectly prepped little purple Swift sitting outside ticking over for me. Paperwork sorted Nick jumped in the Swift and I took the Merc up to the carpark to use as a dumping ground. Perfect. After a cracking breakfast at Devil's Diner the mist began to lift off the Nordschleife and I headed back to the car to get ready. Venturing out onto the Nordschleife is always a bit daunting no matter how many times you've done it, and this was my first time in about 14 months. Early on the track was damp in plenty of places and the temperature was still very cold, so I concentrated on getting and keeping some heat into the tyres and brakes and finding where the grip was. After 1 sighting lap I pulled back into the pits, deciding to wait a little bit to allow the track to warm up and dry out slightly. Unfortunately on this sighting lap I happened across the first (and luckily only) casualty of the day, a BMW M3 that had struck the armco leaving Ex-Mühle. Luckily the driver was fine but his car looked a sorry state as Mr Bongard recovered it through the paddock not long after.
Around 10am I was a bit happier with the track conditions so decided to venture out properly, and after a slow warm up lap to get some heat into everything I started to press on. As usual the Swift was exceptional and the guys at R4R really know how to set these cars up properly. As everyone who's driven one knows they aren't fast in a straight line but the speed they can carry through the corners is exceptional. They do struggle down Döttingher Höhe though! I was happy enough lapping round the track until lunchtime when an offer I couldn't refuse came - a few laps with Nicholas in a Rent4Ring BMW!
The BMW's are set-up to dominate the Ring, just like the Swifts but with the advantage of a lot more power in a straight line. Mad as it sounds I've visited the Ring for 4 years but never had a passenger lap with anyone - Nicholas made up for this in spades! The man is a mentalist. I've managed to overtake quite a few "faster" cars in my Focus and the Swifts during TF but Nick was pushing Porsche's out of the way, madness! While completing our 2 laps he was good enough to give me some tuition on where to brake and turn in so I could push the Swifts even harder. An hour or so later and with my stomach settled again I ventured back out in the Swift for a few more laps with Nick's guidance fresh in my mind.
Immediately I felt a lot faster. I was pushing the car harder through the corners, braking later and getting on the gas earlier. Andrea said she could straight away see the difference in my driving and I owe it all to the great tuition I had. Now lapping became really fun, the track had warmed up, the driving standards (TF rules) were excellent and I felt like the little Swift was really starting to sing. The rest of the afternoon passed in a bit of a blur - I was lucky enough to take out a friend of mine from Swansea who was attending his first trackday too and he had a great time in the Swift and before I knew it it was time to cool the car down and return to the paddock for the end of the day.
End of the day
Fighting the urge to have "one last lap" as that's where things normally go wrong, and knowing I had a few TF laps booked on the full layout the following day, I decided to call a halt about 40 minutes before the end of the session. With the Swift returned to Rent4Ring as it came to me the day was a resounding success. And although I'm aware nobody ever times their laps on a trackday, I really didn't - I decided not to bother with a GoPro and used nothing else. This day was literally a day of fun and the aim was to leave with a huge smile on my face, which is exactly what I did.
Before my next day I'm definitely going to book on a warmer time of year as it was absolutely freezing! Huge thanks to Circuit Days and Bridge To Gantry for organising the day, and everyone at Rent4Ring who as usual were brilliant. Here's to the next one!