Destination Nurburgring #12. July 2015

Just before I went, my long awaited Hi-Spec Calipers, floating discs and other bits arrived. I mention is now so it makes sense if you read the rest of the thread

My brakes arrived.

I fitted them

I even, are you sitting down for this ? Fitted a pair of BRAND NEW front slicks !

Bled the brakes, aligned it all and loaded up ready for Germany.

Finished work early on the Monday, drove to hull where we met Paul for a few beers and evening meal. Far better than driving down to Dover after a day at work !

Driving from Rotterdam to the ring, we filled the Golf and Jerry cans with 102Ron fuel. It still only worked out at about £1.16 a litre.

Arrived and checked in at the Burgstube.

Then, after saying our Hello`s, it was time to go and help out with the registration for the event.

I make no secret of the fact I help Darren on these events, I`ve done it for years now but that doesn`t mean I can`t give an honest view of the events, as my posts from last year show.

Stickers on the Golf.

Then up to the F1 paddock to sort the garage numbers and entry / exit lanes to the pits. We also put up the Destination Nurburgring flags so people knew where we`d be based.

After setting up, we went back to help with the sign on. If you were there on Tuesday we probably spoke as it was either Lou, Cat or myself showing you how the Transponders clipped together. It`s also a good opportunity for a chat to people, many of whom I hadn`t seen since DN last July.

Back to the Burgstube for a beer and enormous Burger, had a great evening and the atmosphere was that of excitement with a little bit of apprehension you get before a trackday, it was standing room only around the large table

Next morning and we dropped Lou off at the TF carpark to help down there with signing on and Matt & I went up to the F1 paddock to help up there. All unloaded and ready to go by 7am.

Then the problems started. The night before we`d been given a list by Darren and had put stickers on every garage but the woman from the circuit who held the keys had just given out random number throwing the carefully laid plans out of the window ! People had been put next to each other if they were mates, but this threw a spanner in the works. The Mission Motorsport guys were supposed to be next to the DN team, but the Getspeed guys had been given those keys and had setup there already.

It made for a very frustrating start and could have easily been avoided if the keys had been dished out as per the list.

Anyway, then a few people were complaining they couldn`t leave their trailers in the F1 paddock. Darren had explained at the briefing that this was taken for the Rad-Am-Ring people and you could unload, but then had to leave the trailers etc in the Historic Pits. No big deal, but some people have selective hearing… “I never heard him say that !” was a common response, even though Darren was quite clear about it in the briefing.

Anyway, minor dramas sorted and we were ready for the 8-9am sighting laps. Unfortunately, the mist that had descended over the circuit delayed this for half an hour. Nothing we could do about it, but everyone wanted to get on circuit.

Once it opened, I did half a dozen laps around the GP circuit, it was a good chance to check the brakes and make sure everything was OK. The car felt GREAT, but I was locking the brakes everytime I hit the pedal.

After 8 years of a single piston setup and large master cylinder, I was used to standing on the pedal pretty hard. I needed rather more finesse with the new brakes and if I`m honest, even though I was much better by Thursday, I still didn`t get the most out of them.

I found I had to lightly squeeze until they started working, THEN I could stand on them. Once I did that, the feel was superb, but bumps in the braking zones caused lockups and I just need to be aware I now have a lot more braking performance under my foot than I`ve had before. Stops from 150mph were dispatched with ease and I never doubted they`d do what I wanted.

I did find I tended to brake too early, I just didn`t expect the stopping power, even after 2 days I usually braked before Bergwerk and then had to lift off for the last part of the braking zone as I`d braked too early.

That`s fine, I don`t mind having too much braking or braking too early. it`s something I can tweak over time, but it certainly gave me a huge amount of confidence.

On the plus side, I didn`t get a single bit of fade, the PF08 pads are fantastic. I`m actually pleased I couldn`t get any 01`s, I think they`d have been too grabby.

Disc wear is under 0.1mm, the pad average wear for 2 days at the ring and plenty GP only laps is around 1.5 – 2mm. Which is far FAR less than I ever had on the OEM calipers / pad combinations

After setting the tyre pressure, it was time for a lap of the ring. Matt was watching the GPS speed on the Performance Box and just as I was crossing the bridge approaching Flugplatz, his lifted his hand, the sign I`d his the 200kph limit. Blimey, that was sooner than expected and higher than I ever did last year. On lap 1. Hmmm.

Tentatively through Flugplatz then full throttle towards SX. Just in the dip before the crest, I hit 151 on the GPS and heard a bang from the front. Then a flapping noise.

I knew straight away if was the splitter. We had similar with Matt`s at Bedford in the 328 so the noise was familiar, the reason was unclear. I knew there was a safe marshall post on the run from Adenau Forst towards Metzgesfeld. Slowed down until the track was totally clear behind, stopped on the edge of the track and reversed behind the barrier. Quickly told the Marshall there was NO problem, no fluid, I just had something loose. I`d parked way behind the barriers, next to his car, so no yellows were needed.

A quick look and it was immediately one of the wire-rope clips holding the splitter to the chassis had failed.

This was absolutely fine at Croft to 120MPH and on the GP circuit, but as soon as I hit 150MPH, the force on it was obviously too much and it pulled the wire out of the clip. One of those things you can`t test until you hit those speeds. I`d stood on the splitter and it took my full weight without issue.

Once I knew it wasn`t going to fall off or cause a problem, we had a steady drive back to the paddock.

Jochen was out and you can see on this photo how the middle of the splitter has pulled away.

A trackside `fix` (bodge) was required.
I had some 6mm threaded bar, so drilled the splitter, then bumper and crash bar. 6mm temporary supports fitted.

I had to drill the airdam and cable tie it to the bumper, it had deformed when the wire broke and wouldn`t sit flush otherwise.

Back out and time to get lapping.

Did a couple of back to back laps, then into the pits to check the splitter was secure, tyre pressures were good etc.

The car was hitting higher speeds than before and the rear was a little floaty at speed. Added more rear wing angle. It cetainly helped, although on the next lap, I was 5mph slower from Flugplatz to SX, GPS shows exit is the same but it just accelerated slower. As I don`t really care whether I`m doing 150 or 155 over a bumpy crest, I thought I`d leave it on a higher downforce level and live with a few mph lost in top speed

There was NO queue in the pits. At all.

Back out for a lap and I decided that I`d wear out a different part of the circuit. Why use the Apex like everyone else eh ?

I`d only used Nyloc nuts on the underside of the splitter, but the karussel was grounding out and after 4 laps, it wore one of the bolts away, causing it to flap about again !

Back in, drilled some 5mm thick washers and countersunk the nut. Now it`ll have to wear that away before it can get to the bolt. Even after another day and a half, it`s still fine. The wear on the splitter is from when the wire came loose.

5th lap and I saw this car behind me. I knew I wasn`t really up to full speed, so pulled over and let him past.

I tagged onto the back of him. He gapped me on the first part of the lap, but then hit traffic halfway. That allowed me to close up and we were much closer for the rest of the lap.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roqjaH0jBKw

When I was refuelling later, the mechanic for the Golf came over. He`s from Lichtenstein and used to work for the VW Tuner Lehmann and was very interested in my setup. Seeing someone say `Ah, ABF, oh, you used 2 head gaskets` and `that`s not a VW radiator`, without prompting was a new experience. He certainly knew his stuff and was very complimentary about the Golf.

Look at that weather ! 28 degrees, bone dry and almost empty.

Went for some lunch. Hmmm, I didn`t think about this did I. Michaela had brought a load of sandwiches for the DN team and Mission Motorsport guys. I should have realised leaving a box of sandwiches with a load of ex army types wouldn`t leave any for the rest of us. Lesson learned on that one ! I`ll get them early tomorrow.

I was taking plenty different people out and Kim was in with me when I saw this guy behind in the mirror.

Let him past then followed for the rest of the lap. Obviously, I needed a little assistance from the traffic, but once we were past Bergwerk, I was able to stay with him for the entire 2nd half of the lap. Really enjoyed it and so did he.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LftrJztddP8

This guy was lapping all day long

Following him and watching him, I wasn`t surprised to see he`d taken the writing off the sidewalls !

The Golf was completely trouble free. Not a single issue.

A different passenger every lap, but they all seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. AntJ certainly did.

It was really pleasing for me to get so many positive comments from different passengers, most were about the mapping `It doesn`t feel like a Turbo at all`, the Aero `It actually works !!, It`s really stable at high speed` and occasionally `this looks tidy now`. After all the prep for the last Month and the issues last year, Wednesday was pretty much perfect.

I have done a lot of laps of the ring but I can honestly say I`ve never been on a trackday as quiet as Wednesday. There were NO queues, not a single closure and loads of clear lapping with the odd bit of traffic. After DN10, Darren`s decision to reduce numbers and not allow `ring virgins, unless they had instruction` certainly looked like it was a good move.

Set off behind Sam Tate for a lap to get some footage, but he had a tyre issue and had to pit straight away.

When I came into the pits, Jorg was there and then Anthony in the GT3 pulled up along with Dale.

This was too good an opportunity to miss.

Jorg was in the Golf with me. Mat jumped in with Anthony in the GT3 and AntJ was with Dale in the Leon.

Dale posted a video from his Seat Leon here on www.bridgetogantry.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ePzvF2-TQo

Anthony and I had agreed to do a lap of the Gp circuit first, we didn`t tell Dale though. Oops… Anyway, what followed was a good lap. Really interesting to compare the cars, obviously on anything bumpy, the 991 monstered the Golf and he is super stable under braking. On corners that I can settle the car, particularly miss-hit-miss, even with the mid corner bump, the Golf was noticeably quicker.

Mid range if Anthony was in the wrong gear, the Golf could pull away a little, once he got into the power band, he reeled me in, but the mid-range from mine was better.

Dale thrashed the poor Leon as usual. He has a brand spanking new set of Pilot Sport Cup 2`s, which along with suspension design 25 years newer than mine meant he was quicker in certain parts. But the weight of the car and stock brake pads proved to be too much for him to overcome and once he hit traffic up Kesselchen, he had no chance of catching us up.

Anthony sent me his video, which i`ve overlaid with mine.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYet1q3tRy8

Dale and I were having a good chat afterwards. The windscreen rake comparison was particularly noticeable.

The Golf. Or `Pinderwagen` as Dale called it which now seems to have stuck.

I took Andy Carlile out for a couple of laps at the end of the day

It`s always good to get some technical feedback and Andy can certainly give that. Well, what would you expect from the fastest man to have ridden a Motorbike round the ring…

He liked the brakes, although felt I wasn`t using them fully.Yep, I agree with that.
He liked the boost delivery. A lot.
He felt the suspension wasn`t coping well with what I was asking of it. The dampers were struggling to cope with some of the quicker sections.

I`ve never had this issue before, but I`ve never gone this fast either. I could feel the dampers needing a moment to compose themselves after a particularly bumpy section. A feather to get weight onto the nose, then turn and back on the power really helped them, the fast corners up kesselchen were the best example, as were the jumps through Pflanzgarten.

As Andy said “It`s OK through there, but you can feel the dampers are really struggling. Hit a bump at the wrong angle and you could have a BIG moment there”.

It`s why you`ll see in some of the later videos I feather a little where I`d been flat earlier.

However, I`m not necessarily going to throw a grand at the suspension. These are absolutely fine for most things. I never hit 150 in the UK and I`ll make a point of seeing how they perform at Cadwell at the end of August before considering changing anything.

Lou very rarely wants to go out on track, but said she fancied a lap today ! Strapped her in and went out with 2 minutes before the chequered flag. First corner, turned right and the back end slid wide. OK through the next left, but wiggling the wheel and something felt wrong. I think it`s a puncture. Back into the pits and yep, rear left tyre had 5 psi in it. Damn.

Back in at the end of the day and I was absolutely buzzing. The Golf had done all I asked and more. The engine wasn`t causing me any concern. Pressures, AFR and temps were all spot on. The new gearbox is great. 3rd and 4th are particularly good. i could maybe do with a slightly taller 5th if running slicks, I`m getting close to 6,800 in 5th at 151 which is too high really. The Turbo isn`t efficient at all and IAT`s are starting to rise. If I sit at 6,000 they are rock solid as the Turbo is still efficient.

I was knackered though. Lou had a bug last week and I started with it today. Went to bed for half an hour when we got back and when we went out for a meal with Jorg, Karl and families, I couldn`t really talk, it was more of a croaky whisper.

Called it a night around 11 and went to sleep a very contended man, looking forward to Day#2

Day #2
Thursday morning and it was a little cooler, but the forecast was clear. Up to the Paddock for 7am again, much more relaxed on Day 2, most people do both days so everyone knew the score and we didn`t have much to do.

The heatshield was held on by some 2mm steel plate, but one had fractured, I had some 5mm plate on the trailer so made another one. 2mm seemed fine, but the vibration and heat obviously required something stronger.

Lou was in the F1 Pitlane today with Michaela. I`d told Matt he could drive the Golf, so it seemed a sensible decision to do half a dozen laps on the F1 circuit first.

07:55 and we were ready.

I`m a bad passenger in my own car. I`m a really bad passenger when Matt is driving and I`m even worse when i`m not feeling so great. Putting all that to one side, I actually felt fine with him driving, he didn`t go out to try and prove anything, just took his time and was quicker every consecutive lap. He too struggled with the brakes, thought they were a little `grabby` at first, but once I explained about the technique needed, he was fine and was braking nice and hard.

Back in for a few tweaks to the boost delivery. The almost empty circuit allowed us to do some 1500rpm to 7200rpm pulls in 3rd, which is ideal to get a nice datalog of the boost delivery. Modified a few points on the table to slightly lift boost from 4,000 to 5,900 then hold it until redline.

I`ve stuck to 0.8 Bar for the last year, but tweaked it to 0.9Bar today.

This image is always at the back of my mind when I increase the boost.

I KNOW it`s not running high boost, 0.9Bar is nothing and the delivery is very steady, so I don`t have a slug of torque at 3,000 destroying gears or CV`s, but even so, after the issues last year, I`m still cautious.

Anyway, map tweaked, back out again and straight away we could feel the improved urge from 4,000. Really surprising how so little tweaking is noticeable, but we could both easily tell the difference.

A few more laps on the GP then Matt drove a lap of the Nordschleife. I couldn`t ask for anything else, he drove smoothly, didn`t push it and listened to the areas of caution I pointed out to him. It was only his 15th ever driven lap, 14 were in the 328i, so I was very impressed with his driving.

The plan was for Andy to go out as his passenger later in the day. Hmmm….

I`d promised to take out some of the guys from www.missionmotorsport.org and took 3 out on the bounce. Out – in, swap passenger straight out and repeat. They were all beaming at the end of the lap and it was great to finally be able to take some of those guys out

I think Steph was with me when we were following this Porsche, a great 2nd half of the lap and I`m finding from the Karussel onwards, the Golf is as quick as most cars on the trackday.

Lou was enjoying her time in the pitlane. She started smiling and waving to the cars as they came back in to the pitlane, initially, about half returned the wave. By the end of the day she said almost every single driver was waving back and many were smiling and waving before she did.

When there was the red flag for the Porsche crash, she walked down the paddock into every garage letting them know what had happened and why the circuit was closed. She said a load of them said “Oh, you`re that happy lady who always smiles and waves when we come back in !” It certainly made her time more enjoyable

Took Ant Jordan out for a lap, I think he enjoyed it `****ing Hell, that`s amazing`

Then Lizard came over and I took him out for a lap. Oh dear.

You know when you want to drive well for someone, you value their opinion and don`t want to drive badly, but you end up driving worse ?

yeah, that was me.

I was just overdriving, hitting kerbs, going in too hot and generally not being smooth at all. Smooth and consistent is something I know I am usually very good at, so this was annoying.

A particular `highlight` was a moment in the bottom of the Foxhole when I hit a bump differently to every other lap and needed a little steering correction. In the compression with my foot to the floor….

I think my `Whoa` expression and Alex`s grimace said it all really.

After that, I gave myself a stern talking to and I was fine for the rest of the lap. Afterwards, Alex said “I was going to tell you to calm the ** Swear words must be fully starred ** down after foxhole, but you did it yourself”.

Not my finest first 1/3 of a lap.

A few more laps with new passengers and no incident. I was gaining confidence in the brake application and everything was going well.

A Porsche had an off going up Kesselchen and the track was Red-Flagged. The 2nd one of the day unfortunately.

Had a bite for lunch and then Matt and I decided to go to the TF carpark so we could give some laps to other people I`d promised them to.

Saw Sam Tate in his Schirmer M3 and went out for attempt #2 of me following him then him following me. Matt jumped in with Sam and Suzie jumped in with me.

What followed was actually rather surprising. Sam isn`t used to someone sitting so close to him. I know him well enough to be comfortable doing that, but he said afterwards he was watching his mirrors more than he should. Not because he thought I`d try and pass, that wasn`t what we`d agreed, but because he couldn`t believe the Golf was still there… Unfortunately, the more he did that, the slower he drove, making it worse.

I did have the camera recording.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_W37-ija-g

We swapped over on DH and he followed me. Gapping him on the GP circuit wasn`t a massive surprise, the Golf is quicker out of the corners and the smooth tarmac meant I could really use the brakes and get on the power early. I wasn`t sure if I`d be quicker on the Nordschleife. It was going to be fun finding out.

However, fate thought otherwise….

Going through hatzenbach, the car started misfiring a little and the steering went heavy > light > heavy. It`s powered by an electric power steering pump, so I thought there was some issue with that, then glanced at the battery behind the passenger seat and saw the problem.

It was on FIRE

Not smoke, actual flames. I turned to Suzy and said “It`s OK, don`t worry. I know what it is”.

One of the benefits of having done over 1,700 laps is you know where the marshall posts are. I knew that at the bridge there was a manned marshall post, I`d seen him with the speed camera the lap before so accelerated there, pulled in and stopped behind the armco.

As soon as I stopped, I opened my door and shouted “feuer !!”

Suzy looked a little startled and was out of the car in seconds. I hadn`t told her it was on fire until then. No point worrying her when there was nothing she could do.

Whilst the Marshall brought the extinguisher, I went round to the passenger side and opened the door. Took the extinguisher off him, tested it and then gave it a short burst with the dry powder.

I`m an auxiliary fireman at work and was really pleased that the training I`d had all came into play automatically. i didn`t panic, tested the extinguisher first, didn`t fill the inside of the car with dry powder and knew exactly what to to.

As soon as I looked, I worked out what had happened. After Croft, we`d had a terminal come loose and thought we`d tightened them both, but the positive terminal was loose, it had caused a high resistance and got hot. That had allowed the battery to soften and deform where the securing strap held it down, loosening the tension and allowing the battery to slide across. The retaining strap then shorted on the positive terminal, sparking and starting the fire.

Went and stood behind the barrier chatting to Suzy whilst we waited to be recovered. The Fire vehicle arrived, the Marshall had radioed there was a fire, but I explained it was sorted and what I`d done. They were cool with it and drove off.

The recovery truck came and took us back to the Paddock

Removed the passenger seat and old battery. The interior had some dry powder which I need to clean, but I`d been very restrained with the extinguisher, knowing how far a little bit went.

The search was on for a temporary battery. Fortunately, the Getspeed guys had one they said I could borrow.

I didn`t have suitable ends on the cables, but was able effect a suitable connection with a jubilee clip clamping the wire to the terminal. I lifted the battery with each wire , making sure they were SOLID.

Strapped it down tightly with a ratchet strap, gaffer tape around the terminals to insulate them, refitted the passenger seat and were shortly on our way back out on track.


Returned to the TF carpark and Sam was there again. Andy Carlile jumped in with me. I was going to follow Sam again, then into the carpark, swap passengers, Sam follow me. Back into the Carpark then after taking Cat out, Andy C would go out with Matt driving. That was the plan anyway…

The lap was going well, Sam wasn`t focussing on his mirrors quite so much and I was keeping with him. We both said afterwards what a fun lap it was.

Until I went over the jump at Pflanzgarten. I was close to Sam and as I landed, Andy said “I hope a Photographer got that..”

We landed and when I turned right, it ran wide. I thought it was because I`d turned in a little later than normal and carried on. Over the dip it was fine, still struggling to turn right in the compression, but again, I thought it was dirt on the tyres from running wide the corner before.

The usual speed through Pflanzgarten and then brake for Schwalbenschwantz. Oh ****, it doesn`t want to turn right. at all. !!!!!

Lots of cadence braking and a wall of death around the outside of the track. We both looked at each other, thinking the splitter had broken.

Pulled over safely before the Mini Karussel and it was immediately obvious what the problem was…

Sigh. That was one of my brand new slicks too !

Andy said “Nige, I have never, EVER been that high off the ground over the jump. In any vehicle”.

When landing, the tyre, for whatever reason had either popped off the bead momentarily or burst. The deflation wasn`t immediate, it took until the end of Pflanzgarten to full deflate, but that`s when it started.

I can only assume being close to another car, going over the jump at speed caused the aero to be less effective and the result was AIR. I hope a photographer was nearby and managed to get a photo. I`ll be buying it if they did !

The track was closed for someone at Weirseifen so we had to wait a little longer for the 2nd recovery truck
“Ah, is this the Golf that was on Fire?”
`yes, but it`s a puncture this time…`

Back to the paddock and time was ticking so we swapped the front tyres and went out for `the last lap`. I didn`t drive fast, but I did see the chequered flag and didn`t finish the event on the back of a recovery truck. Some might no be bothered about that, but I didn`t want to end the event that way. As it was, I was the first car out on Thursday and the last one back in.

That`ll do .

Jochen commented to me afterwards how on most of my photos, I have a huge grin on my face.

How could I not be happy ? I was driving the Nurburgring and what appeared at time to be an almost empty circuit. Glorious weather, a reliable car with friends. What`s to be sad about ?

Back to the Burgstube for a shower then a beer and food. Another good night, apart from the fact by now, my voice had almost totally gone and I could just about whisper. Everyone else obviously found this hilarious…