Destination Nurburgring #13. September 2015

You might want to grab a cuppa if you are going to read this, it ended up being a bit longer than planned. Quite a bit longer actually…

Just reading this back after typing it up and it`s surprising how many things are duplicated from the DN12 report I posted up. I never set out with that intention, it just worked out to be similar. I suppose once you`ve had an amazing trackday at the Nurburgring, another that`s just is good is going to be reported in a similar way !

This never started out to be so long. I just sat down and started typing and a few hours later (yes, it took that long) I looked back and realised how much I`d written.

If it looks far too wordy for you, just skim though, there are plenty of photos and a few videos too.

Unfortunately, Lou & Cat couldn`t make this trip, so it was just Matt & I. Tim who is a mate of mine asked if he could come along for a trip. He paid the difference on the Hull > Rotterdam ferry of a whole £8 each way to go from a 2 to 4 berth cabin on the crossing.

I finished work early on Monday drove straight home, we jumped in the X5 and had a clear run over to Hull. Straight through passport control, then waiting until the freight had loaded.

Saw a few other cars on trailers that were obviously going to the ring, an EVO with far more Aero than me was there, chatted to the owner Russ and had a good look round the very nicely prepped car. A few guys were there having driven down from Scotland, they had their empty jerry cans seized when boarding the ferry so were a bit annoyed about that. P&O do have a No jerry cans policy, but it was the first time I`ve heard of it being enforced.

Time for a beer some food, listened to a woman murder a couple of songs in the bar and decided it was probably a good time to call it a night…

Car prep had gone really well with quite a lot of suspension improvements carried out since Cadwell and DN12. My previous visit in July had shown up the limits of the BC coilovers. Whilst they were perfectly adequate for several years, they just struggled to cope with some of the high speed stuff I was now achieving. After getting the `Well, you`ll buy them sometime, so why not get them now` go ahead from my wife, I didn`t need telling twice…

I`d fitted the new KW Clubsports a few weeks before, retaining the Eibach ERS springs I had before which were a bit stiffer than the supplied KW`s.

Having spent a few days measuring, adjusting, measuring and adjusting until the Bump steer was removed, aligned it myself then taken it for a final check at a local alignment place I was confident it would give a noticeable improvement in handling. The alignment guy had struggled to get the toe exact, it kept moving slightly, which is what I`d found, but fitting the Spreaderbar between the wheels (as used for some Mercedes) seemed to sort it out. We couldn`t really find the reason, he checked for play and found none, I`d done the same at home too.

Apart from removing the rear camber shims as they were affecting Toe as well as camber, it was good to go. Maybe less rear camber than I`d prefer, but a significant increase on the front Caster from the standard 1.5º on a MK2 to the 6º 10′ I`d managed to get with adjustable top mounts and some front wishbones I`d modified to also add Caster. With front SAI of 15 Degrees, I had a better Caster to SAI ratio than standard, which I hoped would improve cornering with the ability to maintain at least some negative camber during cornering… Oh, you people with double front wishbones don`t know how lucky you are. I`m still running a suspension setup designed in the 1980`s

After a rather average breakfast on the Ferry we had a steady 4 hour run down to Nurburg. Saw plenty UK plated cars heading the same way, many trailered but a good number being driven under their own power. Having driven the Golf to the ring and back many times before I bought a trailer, they have my sympathy. The nearer to a road spec the car is, the more enjoyable the drive over. I`ve found once you start stripping it out it becomes more of a chore.

Arrived in Herschbroich where we were staying with Rich. He loaned me some Jerrycans and I popped down to the ARAL to fill with some 102Ron. Whilst 180Litres sounds a lot, the exchange rate meant it was `only` £1.03 per litre. The car was mapped with 98Ron, but the higher octane rating is worth the extra knock protection on a circuit like the ring with sustained wide open throttle sections on a warm day. My ignition timing is pretty conservative anyway but for the sake of a few quid more, it`s daft not to get the 102.

Once again we were helping Darren, when he says “Guys, can you do xxx” he know`s it`ll be done. By having a lot of regulars helping out really does make that side of the event run smoothly when we`re in Germany. At 3pm we drove up to Rotek to help get ready for the signing on. Signing on envelopes, complete with transponders and car numbers were sorted ready for people to turn up. By being able to signup the afternoon before, it makes the morning of the trackday a much more relaxed affair, people had time for a chat rather than wanting to get out on circuit. Spent a good few hours talking to people, assisting with the forms and having the occasional “Ah, you`re Nige with that Blue Golf…” Hmmm…

Briefing completed and then up to the Burgstube for a Burger. The rest of the guys were drinking, but I was giddy enough without the need for a beer, so I drove up and drank coke all evening. When I`m full of that nervous energy and anticipation ready for a trackday on the ring the next morning I don`t usually bother having a beer. It gives me a clear head the next morning and I don`t need to have a beer anyway. Called it a night around 11 and went straight to sleep.

Now those who know me are well aware I don`t need an alarm clock when it`s a trackday . I always wake up early like a kid on Christmas morning. Along with the cost, one of the reasons I haven`t gone racing is I still REALLY look forward to trackdays. Whilst that continues to be the case, I`ll keep doing them but if I ever find they aren`t doing it for me anymore, that`s when I`ll look at something else. In the meantime trackdays will continue to be the way I get my `fix`.

For the first time in a long time, I was woken by the alarm at 06:10. I think it was because I was shattered after working the previous several days, then the drive over. I hadn`t had a good sleep in a few days. That and the fact I was pretty confident there was nothing else I could do to prepare the Golf made me pretty relaxed.

Drove up and parked in the overflow carpark ready to unload. It was still misty at this point and we were hopeful the fog that had hung around the previous few mornings would dissapear quickly…

Unloaded and drove over to the carpark. It was still pretty empty, the first hour is set aside for sighting laps which takes the stress out of the morning and not everyone is there by 7:00 like we were…

Whilst Darren was giving a morning briefing to those who hadn`t been able to make it last night

Matt and I (with help from Simon if there was a particularly long line of cars), stopped every car going out for the sighting laps, just to remind them the first hour was no overtaking, driving at a reduced pace, then at 09:00 the circuit would go `Live` wherever they were and after that, they could overtake, but we emphasized that was ONLY on the LEFT hand side only ! The message seemed to get across and I personally didn`t have anyone complain to me about drivers overtaking on the right for the rest of the day.

SEAT France were attending, they`d brought along 6 or 7 SEAT Leon ST Cupras. They`d brought some impressive machinery for filming the laps and during the sighting laps they fitted a huge remote control camera rig to one of the cars.

That was obviously only used for the first hour of slow sighting laps, after that they were often seen going round in 2`s or 3`s and changing drivers. I don`t know if was some sort of TV show, a SEAT dealer promo for customers or dealers but they were a happy bunch, very courteous and all appeared to be having a cracking time. They were wandering around the carpark filming cars coming and going. More on that later…

Jochen came over and asked if he could put a couple of www.frozenspeed.com stickers on the Golf. Now if you don`t know who Jochen is, he is frozenspeed and takes some absolutely top notch motorsport photos. He has stickers that can be seen on various high end machinery. These are not handed out willy nilly ! Oh no, I`ve heard of people in decent cars ask for some stickers only to be told `No, I`ve seen you drive…` They most certainly don`t adorn the body of a cheap shabby looking shed, so I knew that all the remedial cosmetic work I`ve done this year was worth it when I finally, after 8 years of waiting, was deemed worthy of not 2, but FOUR stickers !!

Mid application. Well, you don`t think he`d entrust it to anyone do you ? They have to be positioned RIGHT…

My input was `can I have silver instead of white please….`

This photo is purposefully blurred. Why ? Simply because I know it`ll irritate Jochen a little…

Moving swiftly on… At around 8:45 I decided to get a sighting lap under my belt whilst Matt continued to give the drivers on sighting laps a quick reminder. Went out and along DH, approached the first braking point, turned the wheel and had the weirdest handling feeling I can recall. The steering started off very vague then went really responsive. A very odd sensation and not something I`d had before. A steady lap and it was predictable, but unnerving.

Straight back into the carpark, car up on axle stands and everything given a spanner check. Hmm nothing loose. I wondered if it was the toe out, so I adjusted each side 1/4 Turn to add toe IN to improve stability. Back on for another lap, taking it steady with Matt in with me. It still did the same thing, but wasn`t as twitchy. More thinking on this one required…

It was Darrens Birthday, the ring staff even bought him a cake ! . He wouldn`t tell anyone quite how old he is, but looking at the silver streaks in those flowing locks, I`d hazard a guess 50 is approaching fast…

Meanwhile, Russ was out in the EVO, unfortunately a transfer box / gearbox problem cut his trip VERY short.

Matt took it out for a lap, just to get used to the ring and driving the Golf again.

Matt didn`t like the steering feel, it wasn`t anywhere near as precise as his E36. I was getting used to it and whilst it most certainly wasn`t perfect, it was predictable. Started pressing on a bit and using the brakes. This was something I was very aware of. I knew I wasn`t using them at DN12, so really concentrated on them. Matt is almost as big a critic of my driving as I am, which is saying something… Even he never said `Dad, you aren`t using the brakes enough` which if you know him will realise that is high praise indeed !!!

Mid morning and I understood the handling and was starting to string some laps together and things were going well.

Then it broke.

Fortunately, it was probably one of the simplest failures I could have. The accelerator cable snapped.

In the scheme of things and issues I`ve had before, a snapped cable is pretty low on the list of things that could go wrong ! It happened coming out of AF, so when I knew it was 100% clear I pulled across and reversed back behind the barrier, meaning no yellow flags were needed to spoil anyone elses laps. Explained to the Marshall I hadn`t dropped any fluids and it was just the cable. He radioed in, called for the recovery truck and we waited. I was tempted to wedge the throttle 1/3 open and drive back that way, but he wasn`t having it. No Golf on truck photos, never took one, but you`ve seen it before anyway..

Dropped back by the trailer, I had a spare fanbelt and a spare clutch cable, but no accelerator cable. Damn. Popped up to Rent4Ring where they managed to find an accelerator cable from a quad. Whilst not the cheapest cable in the world, it was sourced in a couple of minutes and I didn`t have to spend an hour driving round to save a few quid. They had it straight away on the shelf and I was happy to pay a bit more than usual to get it there and then. Back to the Golf and we pulled the cable out of the old liner, fed the new cable through and set the length. Wrapped the excess cable round the pedal, tied a couple of knots and then put a couple of cable ties over the top just to make doubly sure nothing moved.

Back out on track within a few minutes and everything was fine. The pedal was slightly lower than before, which threw off my Heel & Toe a little, but not enough to stop and adjust it.

I was comfortable with the car now and was taking out various passengers. Rich looked particularly serious on this photo

I don`t really have the experience or knowledge of different dampers to be able to fully articulate the feeling of the new dampers. The best way I can describe the way they handled kerbs is it felt as if the springs were softer. The ride of kerbs was smoother and didn`t unsettle the car as much, it felt much more compliant. Once off the kerbs, the dampers quickly settled any body movement. Going over the Schwedenkreuez crest at around 150mph, the previous coilovers had taken a moment to `settle`. They aren`t bad dampers, but at those speeds, the time to settle was a fair bit of distance. The KW`s seemed to settle almost instantly.

I`ve often wondered if I was in tune enough with the car and what it was doing to be able to tell the difference between a set of dampers. When I fitted the BC`s, there were better than the previous SPAX RSX`s. I thought they were absolutely fine until this July. Actually, I still do and would happily recommend them as a mid-range option. However, the Clubsports were a step up again. The double bounce after the Pflanzgarten jump was there, but a tweak on the bump adjustment certainly made a difference. I`ll be honest, I didn`t want to spend a lap with the wrong settings so only adjusted them a click at a time. What I will do at either Silverstone or Brands later this year is adjust to a more extreme setting on the damper for bump and rebound, then note down what it feels like. That way I`ll be able to fine tune and tweak knowing what each direction of adjustment has on the feel of the damping. I`ll probably do it at Brands, it`s a short enough track and a bit bumpier than Silverstone.

Back in the carpark and I was chatting to Steve in the well known Mercedes van. As usual, he was having a ball and always had a huge grin on his face.

He`d fitted some uprated pads as strangely enough, the others seemed to struggle hauling a van down from ridiculous speeds lap after lap. Oh, and he`d had the Turbo tweaked to give more boost too !!

In my last report, I posted a photo of his track tyre sidewall with the writing worn off, now I know why……

After lunch I was having a clear lap until I caught traffic up Kesselchen. No biggie, I just tucked in behind them. A yellow GT4 and a Blue GT3 caught me just before Steilstrecke.

I let the Yellow GT4 past then tucked in behind him. It soon became apparent they were following each other, I knew as soon as I looked in the mirror and saw how close the GT3 was…

I moved over, let him past and then tagged onto the back of them both. It was a good lap, little traffic and a good run from Hohe Acht to Dottinger Hohe. I was going to pull back into the carpark and drop Matt off and pick someone else up so slowed down. The GT4 slowed, let the GT3 past and then they carried on. Matt suggested we do another lap so I set off after them, but I was too far back and never really caught them up, the distance stayed the same. Next time round, when they swapped positions again, I tagged onto the back of the GT3 and followed for the entire lap. What a cracking lap it was too. It was my 3rd lap on the bounce and I find the Pilot Sport Cups start to get a bit squirmy on the 3rd or 4th consecutive lap at pace, however they were on similar tyres and so off we went.

Apart from the GT3 catching a Yellow Porsche by surprise at Hohe Acht, the traffic for the rest of the lap was no problem.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLMvuVZHOGI

I came in at the end of the lap as they did one more. Matt and I were discussing it and saying what a thoroughly enjoyable lap it was. All the work I`ve done to the car over the last 18 months came together in that one lap. The engine was strong, enabling me to do over 155 into Antoniusbuche and 138mph up Kesselchen in a MK2 Golf with a drag coefficient of something resembling a housebrick proved that. The Aero meant I was quicker than he was through Miss-Hit-Miss. The suspension meant I could carry speed through the bumpy sections and get on the power early and I was finally using the brakes enough the be able to brake properly ! Well, apart from 2 minor lockups at Metz2 and Weirseifen.

After all the development, this lap just ticked every box and even watching it back now it brings a smile to my face. This is a 1990 MK2 Golf, built by a bloke in his garage who has tried adding bits of fibreglass and plywood to the car until he found a design that worked and who built an engine himself himself, who is no mechanic and is all self taught yet is keeping up with a Porsche 996 GT3 driven round the ring at under 8 minute pace ! Honestly, I was absolutely buzzing, as anyone who spoke to me after the laps would confirm….

I saw him pull back into the carpark and waited until he`d sorted himself out and was out of the car. I was wearing the Black Destination Nurburgring logo T-Short and I wandered over to have a chat. I asked `Are you the driver ?` He glanced at the T-Shirt, I could see his expression going through the thought process of `Did I just cut someone up?` so I said “I was driving the MK2 Golf”. His face split into a big grin `What a great lap !, that was fun. What have you done to it ? The engine is strong !`. He seemed genuinely happy, none of the `oh, I was just warming up the tyres` that you sometimes get in these situations, but a genuine enthusiasm for a great lap shared with another like minded driver.

At that point, Darren could have red-flagged the event, called it off and I`d still have gone home a very happy man.

As it was, we still had LOADS of tracktime left !

Steve had posed with `Alan` earlier, now it was my turn. Whilst my grin wasn`t quite as wide as his, it wasn`t far off…

Just incase you are reading this thinking, who on earth is this bloke who is waffling away? Well, I`m the balding ginger bloke on the left, my son Matt is on the right. Yes, I know, I know, he gets his good looks from his mother….

The shot from the outside of Ex-Muhle looking back was always one of my favourites. This year they have to take them from the inside, which whilst still a good photo, I prefer the other angle.

Approaching Adenauer Forst and I tried both the wide and tight entry, both worked but the wider entry was slightly quicker.

It was time to call it a day so I parked the car up in the bottom of the carpark then went and helped put the DN banners away and tidy up ready for tomorrow. Once I`d done I was walking back to the Golf and Tom said “Nige, those French people filming the SEAT`s were having a good nosey round the Golf…” Thinking nothing of it I wandered back down and grabbed a drink from the car. Whilst I was there one of the guys wandered over, I`m guessing he was the producer / director. He seemed to be organising what was going on anyway…

What followed was rather surreal. They asked if they could video the Golf. `Yeah, sure !` so the cameraman set about getting some external footage. Then the presenter asked if I wouldn`t mind talking on Camera. Er, yeah, ok…. He asked about the Golf, how long I`d been going to the ring, why I went to the ring and that sort of thing. All the while the cameraman felt to be about 12″ away from the side of my face. Then, when the French guy was talking, he`d switch to HIS face and record him. It was particularly amusing when I`d answer in English, then the cameraman switched over to the presenter who did his best to translate what I`d just said into something the viewers could actually understand.

They then asked if they could get some underbonnet video and interior shots of the car, so I opened it up and left them to it.

Whilst the cameraman was filming the car, the presenter started asking about laptimes.

Now anyone who knows me is well aware I don`t go to any trackday to `set a time`. I have a PBox running to datalog, but it`s always on the MPH mode so passengers can see how we`re going. I NEVER go out with low fuel and no passenger to see how quick I can go. I`m well aware that only ends up in tears. 99% of my laps are with a passenger, that`s the same for the UK and the ring. Yes I look at the data, in great detail actually, but not until after the driving is finished. I use it as a tool to learn, improve myself and to overlay on the videos.

I felt a bit awkward when he asked about how quick I`d gone. I said I learned a long time ago that purely timing often ended up with a crash. “Have you crashed before?” `Yes, I wrote a car off after under 100 laps`. I`ve then spent the next 7 years rebuilding this one and touch wood, I haven`t had a crash at the ring since so don`t want to tempt fate. If I go quick, I go quick, but it`s not the ultimate aim nor should it be on a non-competitive trackday.

“So, how quick have you gone then?” Well, funnily enough, I`d looked at the data when we`d finished and not only had I gone under 8 minutes for the first time ever, I`d done it on 3 consecutive laps.

I explained this and he seemed surprised. “Are you sure?” `Why would I make it up ? I don`t win a prize for driving a MK2 Golf under 8 minutes, so no, I didn`t make it up. I actually have the data and video which I`ll look at more closely tonight, but I saw the times when we downloaded the data`

He asked if I wouldn`t mind having that discussion again on camera. Now this felt even more awkward than before. Not only was it something we`d just talked about, but it was about laptimes. I agreed and we had the same conversation again.

Now I`m sure I`m not the only person here who doesn`t like hearing a recording of their own voice. Neither do I like seeing myself on film. IF this ever ends up further than the cutting room floor, I suspect I`ll watch the interview cringing the entire time and watching from behind the sofa….

Before putting the car back on the trailer, I swapped the Pilot Sport Cups over to a set of slicks for day 2, packed everything away and then went for a shower. Back up to the Burgstube for a curry this time, still on the soft drinks but I think we were all even more excited than the night before having had such a cracking day on the ring.

Jochen was chatting to me and asked if there were any particular photos I liked. I said I didn`t have one with all 4 wheels off the ground at the Pflanzgarten jump. I have 3 wheels off from ages ago, but I know that if I don`t brake before the jump, I get airborne, but just don`t have a photo. He said not many cars do get air, so it isn`t a great spot for them to go and take photos, but he might stop there and take a few tomorrow.
I explained if I saw him there, I`d give him a wave and the next lap I WOULD get air…

Thursday morning and I woke before the alarm, well before the alarm actually. Breakfast, quick shower then back up to the carpark to put up the signs and help out again. The same chat as yesterday about the sighting laps, but an extra reminder that the circuit were doing some barrier repairs under waved yellows. They`d started around 7am and should be finished before 9am, so it wasn`t an issue.

I unloaded the Golf and took advantage to get a few photos of the stunning sunrise. Wish I`d brought a decent camera instead of my crappy phone, it deserved a better photo than this.

Once that was over I went out for a lap. Roy asked if he could jump in. I explained it was only a sighter, but he`d never been out with me so he was cool with that.
Out of the cones, under the bridge and all was fine, braked, slight left then turn right approaching T13. There was a `Thunk Thunk Thunk` noise from the front left. Initially, I thought it was some stone or something that was stuck in the rubber, but when it didn`t stop I knew it was something else. Every left hander was fine, but right handers had to be taken slow. Seeing as the ring is a clockwise circuit, there are quite a few right handers….

The only thing I`d changed was the wheels, so back to the carpark, jacked the car up and instantly saw the issue.

The calipers don`t have much clearance between the spokes and the caliper. Normally, that`s OK but on SOME wheels, the casting stamps on the back of the spokes are too high. Usually I just give it a quick run over with a flapper wheel on an angle grinder, make them smooth and never have a problem. Unfortunately, I`d forgotten to do that with this set of wheels. Doh.

Whilst I had brought an angle grinder, I didn`t have any power so used a battery drill and tool to remove the high spots. Only took a few minutes and we were good to go.

All seemed good, the Slicks take longer to warm up, especially on the rear and they drop the gearing meaning I often have to snatch 4th then drop back to 3rd otherwise I hit the limiter, where with the larger 205/50R15 Cups I can leave it in 3rd and not quite run out of revs.

Once I knew it was warmed up, I took out a few of the http://www.missionmotorsport.org/ guys for some passenger laps.

“The Aim of Mission Motorsport is to aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of those affected by military operations, by providing opportunities through Motorsport. Through participation in competition, their strong team ethos helps to inspire and rebuild confidence; while the development of skills including mechanical competencies, logistics, and management all build capacity for a brighter future.”

I know quite a few of the Mission Motorsport guys and always try and take some of the guys of for a passenger lap.

Josh jumped in and was enjoying himself, then we caught up to a new GT3 at Breidscheid. Coming through ex-Muhle, he indicated right and I had a bit of a run on him, but you could hear him then accelerate. They sound bloody amazing and can easily be heard over the sound of my engine. Anyway, I was in the right gear, boost was pulling hard and I still managed to pull ahead. Josh thought it was hilarious and burst out laughing.

Even when we came back into the carpark, he was still grinning from ear to ear.

I then had the absolute pleasure of taking out Lee for a lap. He was suffering a terminal illness at only 28 years old and one of the things he wanted to do was visit the ring and go out for some laps. I was fortunate enough to be able to take him out and we had a good clear lap and even though he was only in the car for a short time I know he enjoyed himself.

He sadly passed away 3 days later.

They had brought a few MX5`s over for the guys to drive and be taken on hot laps in

I spent the next few laps taking someone out, back into the carpark, swapping passenger and straight back out. The Golf performed flawlessley, not a single issue at all. It was a brilliant start to the day.

I saw Jochen (or thought it was Jochen) at the PF jump, so waved my hand at him and hoped he`d be ready for me the next lap. Tony from Mission Motorsport was my passenger and as we pulled out of the carpark, Tom was there in his 997. He waved me out, but I did the `No, after you..` gesture so we tagged onto the back of him. What a stonking lap it was too. I`ve spoken to him since and commented he brakes too much for some corners but apart from that we were very even. He has requested I don`t put the video online, so I will obviously respect that and not do so. Shame, it was rather close.

Anyway, as we exited Eiskurve, I dropped back to get a good run at the jump. Didn`t lift or dab the brakes and certainly got AIR !. Landed and stood on the brakes and made the right hander. I said to Tony `I hope he got the photos cos I`m not doing that again….` To my dissapointment, it wasn`t Jochen so he didn`t get the photo

The MM Guys.

Around 11 o`clock I went over the Pflanzgarten jump and when I landed and turned right, I heard the `Thunk-Thunk-Thunk` from the front left again. I thought the balljoint had moved so drove slowly back, dropped off my passenger and took the car for a check. Wheels off, bolts double checked and everything seemed fine. Hmm, perhaps it was just a bit of gravel between the wheel and the caliper.
Back across to the carpark and Simon asked if he could jump in. Out through the cones, all seemed fine, then, as soon as I turned right it came back ! I drove a slow lap back to the carpark, it was actually 15 minutes BTG…

I knew I had to find the cause, so over to the carpark, up on axle stands, wheels off, driveshafts off and CV`s stripped. I wondered if the cage had cracked or something, but both inner and outer cages were fine. I even removed the gearbox drive flange to check inside and see if I could see anything amiss, but it all seemed OK.

Now my mate Alex (Lizard Logistics) and I have a `warning level` system.
I`m normally a pretty chatty person and will talk to anyone, but sometimes, I don`t want to talk, but that comes across as rude.

What we`ve often discussed is to buy 3 small flags with magnetic bases you can stick on the roof of the car.

See this and If I`m just swapping wheels or pads, you can come and talk to me and I don`t mind. This is condition GREEN.

If I have an issue I need to concentrate on, I don`t really want to talk to you, but I will, although prepared for me to be a bit short with you, this is condition YELLOW.

When something is broken and it could be day over and I`m not happy, leave me alone. I don`t want to talk and I`m not in a good mood. This is very rare but is condition RED, in this case leave me ALONE…

Unfortunately, the more I investigated the more I went from Yellow to Red. I just couldn`t find anything amiss and was genuinely considering putting it back on the trailer as I thought something had gone in the gearbox.

A few people were offering advice which was good advice, but didn`t show anything.

Then Matt said “er Dad, have you seen this…..”

He rolled over the wheel I`d removed and given a cursory glance to. I looked, couldn`t see anything. Tim looked at it for 3 minutes and he couldn`t see anything, then suddenly it was obvious and we wondered how on Earth we`d missed it !

How the heck did we miss that ! It`s immediately obvious once you see it, but we showed other people after, told them there was a problem and it still took them time to spot it unless the light just caught the crack at the right angle.

I am 100% that the lap where the casting was touching the caliper had put stresses into the spoke and it failed 2 hours later. This is not a coincidence, I`ve never had one of these wheels crack before and certainly not at the thick end of the spoke !

Suddenly, from thinking it was day over, I put a spare wheel on and we were good to go. From Red to Green in seconds If I`d spotted that when removing the wheel I would have saved myself an hour of annoyance and stripping parts that didn`t need stripping. I`ll remember in the future…

Back out and no issues.

Neil in his GT2 CS pulled out of the carpark behind me and we were having a brilliant lap, then coming through breidscheid, the accelerator pedal dropped and I only had 40% throttle. I immediately thought the cable had slipped on the pedal so he passed me and we drove back to the carpark, still at reasonable pace, just with less throttle available.

It was obvious what had happened, the end of the cable had jumped in the quadrant

Drilled the plastic, refixed the cable where it should be then added a cable tie to ensure it never popped out again. Sorted.

Back across to the carpark and Neil was waiting for another lap. I`d follow him for a lap then he`d follow me. Good grief that thing has some power and traction. I had no way of keeping close under power. I thought I`d get a run on him out of AF so dropped back a fraction and got on the power early, but he wasn`t on the throttle and I backed off a little just as he nailed it. So close to keeping up for a moment, but no chance. A good couple of laps and Paul my passenger really enjoyed them too. You can hear me asking as we approach Hatzenbach for the first time if he`s OK with me following close. I have some friends who are cool with it, others who hate it and I drop back if they are in with me. I was pleased to hear him say “Yeah, I`m fine with being this close..”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H30mmhls3PI

Alastair was out in his Lotus Elise with Honda power.

He hasn`t done many ring laps at all, but has much more confidence in the Elise now compared to a few years ago. On smaller circuits where you have quick direction changes and slow corners, I can`t keep up, but on a more flowing circuit like the ring we expected to be much closer. Matt jumped in with him and we set off with the plan for him to follow at a steady pace then up it for lap 2.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyvSXlDTg_4

I was surprised I pulled away, so slowed to let him catch up sometimes. Even going up Kesselchen I slowed, saw Matt wave above the windscreen and pulled away even when he was in the slipstream ! I`m finding that having a load or Torque under your right foot is rather nice.

When we were discussing the lap after, we both said we`d expected it to be closer. Even though I was on slicks, they are old slicks and are around 9 seconds a lap quicker over a lap of the ring. He is in a lighter Elise with proper suspension so we thought they`d be closer. Interesting lap nonetheless

I put a small camera under the bonnet. I`ve done this before at Goodwood and it provides a surprisingly detailed insight into how much things are moving (more than you expect!) and how hot it`s getting under there. It was one of the reasons I fabricated the Turbo heatshield and wrapped so much of the surrounding wiring and pipework.

Here is a still from the video halfway up Kesselchen. The manifold is in the bottom right of the photo glowing almost yellow it was so hot !

Simon had been marshalling the carpark most of the day but had a window of opportunity so jumped in for a couple of laps.

Not the quickest nor most exciting of the trip, but good fun and he was particularly pleased when we passed the RSR 2 series and saw afterwards who was driving it. If you watch the video, you can tell by the fact we hardly stop talking, especially on lap 2 that it`s brisk but not `on it`.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kO4Hw_VMv4

I mounted this to my steering wheel when I fitted the Turbo, but could never get it working properly, but at Cadwell last month I sorted it. usual boost is 0.8 – 0.9 Bar, but when pressing the button it gives me a 1.2 Bar then settles to 1.0 to 1.1 Bar until I release the button. Closed loop boost control is poor on Megasquirt 1, but for this purpose, it`s fine

I don`t want to run any higher than the 0.8 standard boost, I struggle for traction on tight corners as it is. Adding more boost will not only make that worse, but it`ll put more strain on the CV`s.

Apparently, talking to people who know about these things and whose views on this I respect, 1.1Bar is nothing. 0.8 is just getting started and I need to MTFU and turn it up…… This is a compromise I`m happy with, low boost for 99% of the time, but coming out of Adenauer Forst or Bergwerk for example, a short press when I`m in 4th and away you go…

It`s a bit quicker, childish, unnecessary, but brings a big grin to my face everytime I press it.

This short clip shows how the boost rises when I press the button, I changed it so it goes Blue when the button is pressed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzU6vZ-5CzA

For those interested in a bit more detail, here you can see the boost trace (Yellow) and the increase when I press the button. This was actually going up Kesselchen, but is a clearer peak when I activate it.

Yet again, we were blessed with perfect weather conditions.

A couple of Reds on Thursday, one where an unlucky Peugeot driver had an off and another for an incident approaching Brunchen. Once that was recovered the marshalls carried out barrier repairs under Yellows. I had a chat to the Peugeot driver and whilst the back of the car was a mess, he was fine and was already talking about reshelling it.

Not really sure why, but Thursday seemed to be a little busier. I think it was just a case of going out at the same time as other people. It works like that some days, you always see the same cars on circuit as they drive / rest at similar times to you. At the end of the day you`ll find you were never out with some cars and yet always come across others.

Don`t get me wrong, when I say `Busier` that`s a very relative term. Compared to a weekend TF lap it was empty.

Roy and Simon were marshalling the carpark all day, Paul (in the middle)was taking a break from lapping and thankfully not wearing bright red trousers this trip…

The day was drawing to a close and apart from putting more fuel in, I had no more issues at all.

We worked out the Golf does around 8 to 9 MPG on the ring. I actually don`t think that`s bad at all ! Although when I worked out I`d done a little over 500 miles, which is around 38 laps and almost 60 Gallons it didn`t seem quite so economical as when it was normally aspirated… Anyway, enough of `adding stuff up`, we know that never ends well.

Track closed around 4:30 and we packed up and put everything away. Loads of drivers were chatting to us as we were wandering around telling us what a brilliant 2 days they`d had. I`m starting to sound like a broken record here, but it`s the same as I felt. I`d given a load of people passenger laps. You often get home and suddenly remember you didn`t give someone a lap but this trip, I spent almost all of Thursday taking different people out.

THE comment that almost all of them came out with was “I can`t believe how stable it is at hight speed !”. When you consider the age of the car, the fact they didn`t really know about aerodynamics back in the 1980`s when it was released and designed with a straight edge, it makes that all the more pleasing. I`m as aware as anyone that a modern `hot hatch`, with a bit of weight out would be just as quick as the Golf round the ring. That`s just a testament to how far modern suspension design has come. I`m working from a starting point somewhat further back than that, but do you know what? I don`t care. As I mentioned earlier, this is not a build with the simple aim of setting a time, it`s about me developing the car, learning what effects changing things has along the way. Some stuff works, other stuff doesn`t, but unless you try you`ll never know.

Packed up and then time for a beer to relax. Jorg who own the Comfy Corner in Adenau produces some of the nicest food in the Eifel. We often have a group meal there and a drink afterwards. He`d printed a special Northloop / Destination Nurburgring Menu just for us.

There were over 20 of us who turned up and I didn`t hear a single person with anything negative to say about the food or company all evening. Having experienced it before, I went for the Steak and oh my goodness, it didn`t dissapoint.

After the meal we went back through into the bar for beers and to have a natter about the previous 2 days.

Left around 1am, after Jorg had insisted on everyone having an Eifelfeuer shot to finish the night. I know why I don`t drink that stuff, it`s bloody awful..

Friday and it was time to pop down to Lidl to buy some wine for Lou. It works out under 1/3 the price of the identical stuff back in the UK, so it seemed rude not to stock up until next year. The staff always look at me oddly, so I find myself explaining its SO much cheaper than in the UK and that`s why I`m buying wine by the trolleyfull.

Said our goodbyes and left around 1pm. It was a leisurely drive back to Rotterdam and setting off early meant we could take it easy and not worry about traffic too much. Once on board we went up on deck to say goodbye to mainland Europe for another year.

Back home and I`d had time to think about the steering issue whilst driving back. I know a quick test that would hopefully identify the problem. Wedge the wheel against the garage wall with 2 bits of wood.

Get my daughter to wiggle the steering wheel, even though it was hard to do, she could move it a bit and I went to look underneath hoping any play would become apparent. Spotted the issue in seconds.

Yup, the steering rack was moving !!. The front bolt you can see in the photo needed a full turn to tighten it. The other 3 bolts were still tight, but I could get 1/4 turn on them. I`d painted the new subframe a few months ago and the bolts were TIGHT. I`d had a rack move under load years ago and thought I`d sorted it. Arrgh, such a simple thing ! It explains why the alignment guy struggled to align it, but couldn`t find any play, why Matt and I couldn`t see anything amiss. It was fine unless you really loaded up the wheels, but locking the wheel against the wall, it made diagnosis immediate.

Longer term and I`m going to weld a couple of small pieces of angle to the subframe as marked in Yellow, that`ll ensure even if the bolts are struggling to hold it, the brackets will ensure nothing moves.

How to sum it up ? Well, I think if you`ve made it this far, I don`t need to. You`ll know what a brilliant trip this was. The Golf continues to surprise me with it`s performance and enjoyment and these Destination Nurburgring trackdays just seem to produce the goods time after time.

Special thanks to Jochen and Claire for the Photos. I never take as many as I mean to and it makes typing this up a bit harder, they were both kind enough to supply enough photos of the carpark area to hopefully make this a bit easier to read