News and views on motorsports

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Heaven Is A Place Called Nordschleife

I just picked up the August 2004 issue of the world famous video magazine, Best Motoring. What a bumper issue it turned out to be. I suggest you pick it up. Viewers are entertained by a group test / race of so-called "Super Sports" sports cars including the Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale, Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche 911 GT3 CS and BMW M3 CSL. The issue also include an "impression" test of the Porsche Carrera GT conducted of course by the infamous Mr. Gan at the Suzuka racetrack. Where else?

Additionally, we are treated to a few laps of the Nurburgring cicuit in the latest Spec C Subaru Impreza WRX STi. No I am not talking about the dumbed down Hermann Tilke dogfest plaguing the Formula 1 Grand Prix schedule. I am talking about the original bad ass Nordschleife. Truth be told, I have only known this circuit by reputation. Journalists, racing drivers and motoring enthusiasts cannot seem to get enough of this track. A test driver was once quoted by a journalist to have said the following as he was taking a drive on the hallowed circuit with said journalist: "I want to die here."

Having seen Mr Gan in action in the Scooby, I finally know what he means. In my version of heaven, I would have the Nordschleife in my backyard. Over 20, yes twenty, kilometers in length or call it near 13 miles long. It consists mainly of those fast stretches and sweeping bends that I just love so very much.

Gan has obviously driven the track many a time. Memorizing all the corners must be quite a feat on its own. Lefts, rights, ups and downs with all sorts of camber changes mid corner and on the exits. And fast. Really, really fast. Even a road car like the Spec C Impreza will be taking certain stretches in sixth gear!! Incredible, given that your normal run of the mill grand prix circuit will only produce a fourth gear straight in a road car. At the Nordschleife some corners are taken in fifth and twice I saw Mr Gan at it in sixth!!!

Absolutely incredible. The track just goes on and on and on. Sweep after sweep after sweep. I could imagine a drive in a car like a Honda NSX Type R or a McLaren F1 with Mozart's Duetta Sull'aria blasting in the background. When you look at it, you wonder why Grand Prix circuits cannot be more like this or Spa Francorchamp. Circuits built in recent times by the FIA and their moronic Hermann Tilke seems absolutely bland. Stale even. Epitomised by the ungainly Sepang circuit.

Well, I am glad I've finally seen the real Nurburgring. Along with Spa, it's definitely on the list of tracks I absolutely have to drive on.

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