Destination Nurburgring #16 September 2016

I don`t write other articles online, these reports just started out as a way of capturing my thoughts and feelings of an event so I could read it back over the winter when I was missing my trackday `fix`. Over time I`ve come to realise other people also quite enjoy reading them as it gives them a feel of what a trackday was like without them being there.

I write as I speak, I don`t go back and rephrase something so it`s in a more traditional reading format and you might see that as a good or a bad thing, this is far a more relaxed style. Hopefully that makes it enjoyable to read and you can understand how I felt at the time rather than just reading what I did.

There is never a theme when I sit down to type these up, they tend to be more organic than that and ends up focussing on whatever I found most interesting during the day.

I never sit down and think “Right, I`ll make this one even longer than the last !” I actually plan to do the opposite ! These take absolutely ages to write and I only write about things I hope you find interesting. As these trips are so good, that means there is a lot I think needs including. I get asked a lot of questions after posting these, either by PM or as a comment so I`ve tried to think what questions I`m likely to be asked are and answered them here. That has increased the length of this report somewhat…

I`m pretty sure the majority of people will start reading, realise how long it is and just skim through watching a video or 2 and looking at the photos. Quickly frankly, I don`t blame you ! It`s not something you`d read in a single sitting but if you do want the detail, it`s in here somewhere !

Anyway ! I usually waffle on at the end of the report not before I`ve even started..

A big thank you to Claire, Duncan, Simon and Jochen for their photos which I`ve included in this report. Every single time I intend to take more photos and I always forget once the trackday is underway.

The Golf had been finished and loaded up for a couple of weeks. I`d tested out the plate diff at Cadwell Park a few weeks ago and whilst it felt better than the ATB Quaife diff I`d run for the last 10 years I knew the Nurburgring would be a far better test. I`ve done over 2,000 laps there and I`m consistent enough so that I can tell how something new feels quite quickly.

As usual we were crossing on the Hull to Rotterdam ferry. Matt finished work early and we left home at around 16:30 for a leisurely drive across the M62. My friend Simon lives in Milton Keynes and fancied coming across just to enjoy the atmosphere and get a few passenger laps so he drove up to Hull and left his car in the onsite multistory carpark and waited for us to pick him up before we passed through passport control.

Drove through and parked up at 18:30 ready to be called onto the Ship.

Once onboard we dropped our luggage off in the room and went to the bar for a beer and a natter.

Had so much to eat from the buffet that I could hardly move and then had 1 more pint before calling it a night. Was woken by the announcement on the tannoy at some stupidly early time so we got ready and then had something to eat. I`ve had the breakfast on the Ferry before but if I`m honest, it`s pretty average for the money so instead we take a multipack of cereal and some LongLife Milk. Pour the milk into the carton and eat the ceral directly out of the packet. Once done everything can be thrown away with no washing up required. It`s cheap and cheerful but seeing as I usually have cereal anyway it`s fulfilling enough to get stared.

Queued for Passport control but when this car arrived at the front of the queue the guard was not happy. They passed out a photocopied form of some sort, but he was having none of it so we changed lanes and left them still discussing the issue !

Drove for a couple of hours before stopping for an early lunch. The weather was glorious and we didn`t hit a single queue on the drive across.

I`m on the three network and they`ve finally added the Netherlands and Germany to their included roaming options so we made the most of it on the drive across by posting updates on Twitter / Facebook as we went with the #DN16 tag. I`d met Neil Carey at the Lindenhoff in April after I`d followed Chris in the GT3RS for a lap on #DN14 and he offered some encouragement for the upcoming trackday.

Stopped for a McDonalds and navigated through the `Easy Order` system. Hmmm, it meant you could easily remove the Gherkins from the burger with a click of a button but it would have been quicker to simply go and order when you wanted.

It was enough to get us by until later though

The thermostat was replaced after the last trip and not only were the engine temps 30 degrees hotter but fuel economy had improved by 1.5mpg

We stop at the Koll Aral on the 258 to fill the Golf and Jerrycans with 102 Octane. Whilst there AGT also stopped to fill up the Porsche they`d been driving at Spa in preparation for the Ring and we had a short chat whilst buying far too much 102Ron Petrol.

Checked in at the Guesthouse in the sunshine which is preferable to the Snow we had on arrival in April.

I`ve started using the Revolut cash card. Cracking exchange rate but I had a slight issue when I forgot I`d turned on `location based security` which stopped it working. The App told me why so I could quickly disable that feature and it worked without a problem.

Popped into Adenau to pickup a sunstrip from Sonja and then drove to Rotek to setup for the signing on.

Darren had filled all the envelopes already and all we needed to do was add the transponders.

As always, people were turning up well before the advertised starting time just to get signed on as soon as possible.

The graphics on the outside of the envelopes were added to reinforce the rules of the events in pictoral format. They seemed to work well as a lot of people started asking where to put the number and DN sticker then said “Oh, it shows me on the envelope !”

Some people were outside enjoying the sunshine and a few were hanging around inside. The briefing was about to start so I was asked to ask everyone to got outside, which I did. Darren was outside chatting and asked why I`d sent everyone out when the briefing was INSIDE. oops.

After the issues last time when I had to turn people away, we close the main gate which is a far better option in my view.

A room full of people who are just as excited as me !

Darren is extremely passionate about Destination Nurburgring and the briefing is where he can let the drivers know what is and is not acceptable. Those of us who have been to trackdays before have heard most of it before but it ensures everyone receives the same message.

I don`t have OCD but when I putting on something like this, I make sure it is LEVEL and the edges are cut neatly around the rubber.

Parked up at the guesthouse and started walking up to the Lindenhoff of for a bite to eat. Sonja saw us walking and gave us a welcome lift up. Steve & Helen were already there and had reserved us a table in the cornerThe room had that buzz you get when everyone there is looking forward to something the next day. It wasn`t alcohol induced, this was anticipation of driving on the Nurburgring ! You don`t need booze to get excited about that !!

Rich, Lizard and Sam were chatting to Matt and asking if he could subtly knobble the Golf to give them a chance to keep up…

Called it a night at 22:30 and went straight to sleep once we arrived back in the room. I was WIDE awake at 05:00 the next morning. I don`t think the alarm clock has ever woken me before the first day of a DN event. You`d think by now I`d be relaxed about it but I STILL wake up early and excited. I say it every year but that`s why I`ve never bothered looking at doing something else. I get a huge buzz out of trackdays and it`s even better when it`s on the Nurburgring !

I`d like to think that everyone who attends trackdays spends a lot of time preparing the car and checking it not only before the event but throughout the day. Things still go wrong but I do my best to keep it in tip top condition for every trackday. I spend a little less time preparing myself… I don`t drink alcohol the night before and make sure I drink water during the day but I don`t do much else to physically prepare myself.

Many years ago when I started trackdays I was told to drink plenty of fluids and eat during the trackday as it`s very easy to become dehydrated and lose concentration, especially on a hot day when you are sweating a lot and the andrenaline is coursing through your body.

A good friend competes in IronMan competitions and has just competed in the World Ironman Championships in Kona in Hawaii where he completed the entire course in 10 Hours 18 Minutes !. He know far more about nutrition than I do and we were talking about it at work. I explained that whilst I experience absolutely nowhere near the same level of fatigue he trains for, I still get tired at the end of a trackday but when I`ve had a meal I quickly come round. He suggested I try some Electrolyte tablets to see if they helped through the day. I thought I`d give them a go and see how it went.

Breakfast at 06:30 then down to the Ring carpark where I unloaded the Golf, returned the trailer to the guesthouse and then assisted with anything Darren needed as people started arriving. The sun was starting to make an appearance already which was a welcome sight

Michaela arrived with the lunchtime sandwiches and cake. She spent most of the day at the barrier and always had a cheery smile as you went out for a lap.

We did the usual reminder to drivers about the sighting hour and no overtaking and then ONLY overtake on the left once the circuit went Live at 09:00. There are plenty regulars on these events and they`ve heard it before but several still reply with a “I`m pleased you tell all the drivers this, it means there are no excuses and we all get the same message”

After the punctures and tyre failures I`ve had over the last few events I binned the remaining 8 Speedline alloys that I`ve had for several years and just retained the 6 I`ve bought in the last couple of years which have never been powder coated. That meant I was low on tyres and so I bought some BRAND NEW Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2`s 15″ x 7″. Not only are they 1kg lighter than the old wheels but they also they shouldn`t give me any issues with cracking rims.

To go on the new wheels I fitted my best used set of Pilot Sport Cups and then bought 4 brand new Toyo RS1 Slicks. The used Michelin slicks I was using were only a 187mm contact patch, the Toyo`s are 204mm which is quite a difference and I`m hopeful they won`t overheat quite as quickly. The fact there are brand new should also give me less chance of unexplained tyre failures. From speaking to drivers who race on the Toyo`s, they don`t offer the ultimate grip of say the Michelin or Dunlop slicks but they don`t drop off as badly with repeated heat cycles. That`s much more suited to my needs and I don`t need that last 1/10th anyway.

I`d also bought a set of Pirelli Slicks. These are 15″ with a contact patch similar to the Michelins but are 2016 tyres and the moulding marks could still be seen in places as they`d only had a tiny amount of use. I very closely inspected the inside and outside of the tyres before fitting for any signs of damage or running with low pressure but nothing was visible so they were fitted to a set of Speedlines.

As the weather was dry I fitted the Toyo`s and went out to scrub them in. I wanted to get some heat into them and then I could take them off to let them cool and run the Pirelli`s all day. Once the Toyos had fully cooled I`d fit them at the end of the day ready for Friday.

I went out for a sighting lap alone just to check everything was OK. There was no reason it shouldn`t be OK but I still can`t relax until I`ve done that first lap, even if it is at reduced pace. I`ve done 100`s of trackdays now yet I STILL get that feeling. I`ve no idea why and even when I know the Golf is ready I still feel the same. Talking to other drivers and some look at me strangely and can`t understand why I`m like that but others feel the same way. It`s irrational and I`m hoping I`ll grow out of it when I hit 50 in a few years…

After I`d been out and had a quick check under the bonnet I took Simon out for a couple of laps. The first was before 09:00 so it was still a sighting lap with no overtaking and reduced pace. As we approached Pflanzgarten a car came up behind me and it was obvious he wanted to overtake. I`d seen him in my mirrors passing cars already. I moved across to the left to ensure he didn`t pass then on a straight lifted my hand so he could see and pointed to my watch then gave a `No No` finger wag. He immediately dropped a long way back. As we were pulling into the carpark he passed us slowly down Dottinger Hohe. He pulled alongside and through sign language and expressions looks suitably chastised and apologised explaining he hadn`t realised it wasn`t 09:00 yet…

Tyre pressures lowered a fraction then we went back out as it hit 9am. A quicker lap to get some heat into the tyres and then a flying lap at a quicker pace to warm them up some more. By now all the apprehension had vanished and I was just concentrating on driving. It`s the same everytime I do a trackday and it only takes a few corners and as soon as I know there is nothing untoward with the Golf all the nerves vanish. I wasn`t like this a few years ago but I had an issue at Snetterton a couple of years ago where the car was perfect moving it around in the driveway and loading onto the trailer but when it came to unload the next day the Crank Position sensor had failed. Since then I`ve never really settled until I know it`s running without issue.

I was hitting the limiter in 5th back on DN14 and so I fitted a taller 5th gear as I don`t like the engine sitting up against the rev limiter. The new 5th dropped the revs by several hundred in top and I was able to keep it flat down Dottinger Hohe straight. I knew on that first lap the sections I were in 5th were slower than before. That taller gearing lost me 8mph up Kesselchen. I was a little surprised by this, it dropped the rev range into a higher torque band but top speeds were definitely down from before.

Came back into the carpark and took off the wheels with the new Toyo`s on so they could cool down for their first heatcycle. I fitted the Pirellis and the plan was to use those for the rest of the day and then swap to the brand new heat cycled Toyo`s on the TD wheels at the start of day #2.

Michaela had asked if I`d take Natz out for a lap. He was a guest at Gästehaus Fuchsröhre and she wanted to send him out with someone she could trust. Blimey. He seemed to really enjoy the lap, so much so that he googled the car later, found my build thread on ClubGTi and joined up just so he could post about what an enjoyable lap he`d had which was really nice of him.

Next up was Marcus who I met through the 911 forum. It was his first ever trip to the Nurburgring after doing lots of UK trackdays he wanted to tick it off his bucket list. He`d spent a lot of time researching the Ring and asking sensible questions about what to expect an how to approach it. I asked if I could take him out for his very first passenger lap. I enjoy taking people out anyway but you only ever get one chance to give someone their first taste of the Nurburgring and I wanted to make it a good one . I explained it was more for the experience than to try to understand lines and speeds, that certainly wasn`t the aim. He was very observant and when we were discussing the lap back in the carpark after the event he could remember loads of different parts of the lap.

I had a bit of a moment entering the left/right flick after Kallenhard and before Miss-Hit-Miss where I touched the kerb and it pushed me wide on exit. I have NEVER hit that kerb before and whilst it wasn`t a scary moment, it added some unwanted drama to what I wanted to be a steady but quick first lap. At the time I didn`t understand why it had happened but as the trip progressed I started to understand the cause which I`ll discuss in more detail later.

Marcus then made a point of getting as many passenger laps as he could on Thursday before driving himself on Friday. A very sensible and measured approach which saw him have a fantastic Friday without crashing which was his absolute number one priority for the trip. He`s now going to have a think about it over the winter and see if the itch has been scratched or he`s just made it worse and needs to go again.

Matt was free so he jumped in and we went out to press on a bit and understand the diff a bit more.

I`d been hitting more kerbs than usual and we thought we knew why but wanted to check it out. I never press on as hard with other passengers so the expectation was it would be more noticeable when I drove with Matt. Sure enough I experienced the same handling as Cadwell.

I`ve driven the Golf for 10 years now and almost all of those with a Quaife ATB diff. I have adapted my style to suit the diff and am smooth and progressive on the throttle and have learned not to be greedy with the power, it just spins up the inside wheel and understeers.

The plate diff is a different animal entirely and as expected, I`m having to learn how to drive the Golf again. The biggest difference is the Plate diff NEEDS power to work. If I go into a corner on a trailing throttle it`ll understeer more than the ATB, I need to apply power so the diff can shuffle it to the wheels and that then pulls me through the corner. When I`m concentrating I remember but if I slip into thinking about something else, another car or a different line, I revert back to lifting mid corner instead of applying power.

When I am on the power, the line through the corner tightens but my steering muscle memory applies a certain amount of lock for a given corner and I tweak from there. The problem is with the plate diff I need to unwind the lock sooner than before. What I was doing was keeping the lock at the same level as previously and that meant I was touching the inside kerb as the car ran a tighter line due to the Diff.

I also found the bumps could affect it badly. If I was hard on the power and exiting a corner, if the inside tyre dropped in a dip in the tarmac then gained traction again, the car would pull that way quite badly for a second.

That was why I touched the kerb with Marcus and several times throughout the 2 days. Less so on the Friday but it`s something I certainly need to bear in mind in future. I have Silverstone on the GP circuit in November so that should be interesting, it`s a smoother circuit and I`d expect the diff will behave more repeatably.

The traction out of corners was significantly better than before. I could get onto the power way earlier than with the Quaife and it would just accelerate out. In the past I`ve lost ground to RWD cars out of slower corners but that deficiency has gone, certainly in the dry although I`m not sure what it will be like in the wet.

What we noticed was a different sort of tyre noise. Where the previous power induced understeer was the usual squeal the car now `chirps` exiting a corner. On a road car, if you are going up through the gears quickly you sometimes get a high pitched squeak from the tyres as you change gear and both tyres search for grip. I get exactly the same noise when on the power if both wheels start to slide. I never noticed it when testing at Cadwell but it happened most laps depending on how I went into a corner.

What I also found was braking stability was improved. An ATB diff doesn`t offer anything under deceleration, it`s just like an open diff but the Plate has a small amount decel lockup and this helps balance the braking across the axles. It was really noticeable and I didn`t lock a single wheel over the entire event where usually I`d lockup one or the other depending on the surface.

I tried with the boost control switched off so it was just on actuator pressure. This made it much easier to control, there wasn`t as much torque being transferred through the front tyres and it didn`t scrabble around as much over the bumps. That`s what I`d expected from talking to other FWD drivers who have a plate diff. It seems that if you have less power you can let the diff drag you round without it fighting you but up the boost and it changes the characteristic entirely.

As Matt and I exited the pits a couple of KTM X-BOW`s passed us on Dottinger Hohe. What followed was one of those laps. We caught them after Flugplatz and tagged onto the lead car until Kesselchen where we hit yellow flags. Just before the yellows we could clearly see the exhaust manifold and pipes glowing cherry red through the exposed bodywork. The driver then indicated across and followed me for the rest of the lap.

What a lap it was too ! Not the quickest but oh so enjoyable. Surprisingly the Golf started to pull away above 120mph but until then they were extremely closely matched.

At the end of the lap I gestured to the XBow driver if he wanted another lap or to come into the carpark.

He wanted to come in so I pulled in and parked up. He was so keen to get out and talk about the lap he didn`t even pull it fully into the space.

Miguel was absolutely buzzing about the lap. He simply couldn`t believe the Golf stuck with him. He`d seen me after I caught up after Flugplatz but expected to pull away, he looked after Adenau Forst and I was till there and the same again after Bergwerk. He was genuinely interested and extremely animated. We`ve spoken since by instant message and he`s still as enthusiastic when talking about the lap.

Just looking around the carpark and the huge range of machinery on the day is obvious

Yes, the NSX WAS driven on the track

Most people were signed on so Matt manned the signing on desk with Kim

I took Claire out for a lap with `Alan`. I`d call it a doll but Claire gets upset, so I won`t A good lap and the Pirellis were almost up to temperature.

Whilst she was free she jumped in with Steve in the Caterham

Paul has been on several DN events and was on the Ferry with us back at DN12 but hasn`t been out in the Golf. Circumstances have just meant it never worked out so whilst the car was running well, the track was quiet and the sun was out he jumped in and out we went. The Supercharged Aston V8 went out ahead and we had a great lap sat behind him. When following like this I watch how the other car moves around on the suspension and we ended up watching leaves being blown out from underneath it. That isn`t to say I`m not concentrating ! Far from it, I need to concentrate more when I`m close behind another car, the last thing I ever want to do it cause an incident with another driver ! I think Paul enjoyed himself, he didn`t ask me to slow down so I`ll take that as a good sign..

Steve & Helen were at DN for the first time in the Caterham, he`s been in MX5`s before but it was lapping without issue and they were enjoying themselves.

I then took Simon back out seeing as everything was up to temp and the Golf was running well. I could drive as I wanted and he immediately noted how much better the traction was out of corners when I was pressing on. Almost no wheelspin unless I tried taking liberties, which is expected. I asked if he wanted to do a flying lap and he said he did.

I was flat from the Gantry all the way along Dottinger Hohe but the strong headwind knocked the speed down to 144MPH. It would not go any quicker without a slipstream from someone quicker. I kept my foot in under the bridge and into the dip at Antonius Buche, I saw Simon search for the passenger brake pedal. He said afterwards he`d never done that speed into the dip before and over the bump going up the hill and he knew he`d tried to slow us down from the passenger seat. I got into the habit of avoiding kerbs a couple of years ago but I tried taking the one near the end of Hatzenbach. As soon as we landed the car bounced and unsettled before the left hander and both Simon and I instantly said “Nope, that doesn`t help at all !” . The left at the top of the Foxhole was one I`ve never taken before either. Well, I have but only a little and if you do that it pushes the car to the right of the track. I tried taking a lot of kerb and it was absolutely fine. Because the suspension is unloaded on the left through the left handed, it just glides over the kerb without unsettling the car.

I`d done a few laps with quick passenger changeovers so had a break whilst I ate a sandwich and drunk more fluid. By this point I`d drunk 1.5lt of the electrolyte drink and was feeling absolutely fine.

Misha is a regular at the ring with his character `Boosted Boris` and he`s previously asked if he can do a feature on the Golf. It never worked out in April but as this was a 2 day event I knew I could make time to get him in the passenger seat. We had a chat about the car and then he did his piece to camera before we went out on a lap. What a great lap it was too ! As we passed T13 a Getspeed GT3 was exiting the pits and followed us through Hatzenbach, I moved over and let him pass then followed him as best I could. Without the Diff he`d have pulled away but it just made enough difference for me to be able to keep up. Then we hit Yellow flags and traffic up Kesselchen which was a bit of a shame but once we were clear we continued for the rest of the lap behind him.

Jochen caught the lap on camera too

One of those laps where traffic hinders one car then the other so it was a bit of a see-saw lap but very enjoyable. At the end of the lap we had a bit of a chat about the Golf and Misha had really enjoyed it.

The Golf is a change from the usual high end machinery he often sits in but he`s a Petrolhead and fully appreciates the effort that`s gone into the Golf and the resulting performance.

If you watched that video before reading this bit, you`ll be wondering what happened !
Probably best to watch this 2 minute clip first and then read on…

Matt was in with me and we were on the second lap of what was going to be a 3 lap stint. I`d checked the pressures before we went out but they didn`t need dropping as they`d stabilised with the air I`d been letting out during the morning.

Without any warning whatsoever I had a complete tyre failure at 130MPH. I was rather surprised by this.

The car pulled HARD to the right but once I added sufficient left lock it was controllable and I pulled up just after the right at Schwalbenschwantz. I wasn`t sure if there was damage and if I was leaking any fluid from the tyres flailing around so wanted to check rather that drive back. I hadn`t even realised the wing had gone until I got out and looked.

As the video shows, it happened very quickly and left a load of debris on the right of the track and the grass verge leaving a mostly clear line on the left. I wasn`t happy where I had parked, it was directly in the firing line if someone came round the corner and outbraked themselves or had a moment. Matt got out and stood behind the barrier then positioned himself so he could see back down the track and he could also hear if there were any cars coming. When it was TOTALLY CLEAR he told me to drive across whilst he keept an eye out down the track. Once on the inside I parked between the corner and the mini Karussell and climbed over the armco.

When stopped at the side of the track like this, I always look for damaged barriers and skidmarks on the track. There is no point parking up on a corner exit where any car losing it will spear into the side of you.

Unfortunately we caused a Red Flag and if you were there I sincerely apologise for that. The absolute last thing I ever want to do is cause a stoppage and I was absolutely mortified when I did.

The recovery truck driver was the same one who picked me up after the puncture in April and even remembered me. This was a most unwelcome reunion.

We were recovered back to the carpark where there was a large crowd of drivers waiting to get back on circuit and observers wondering why the Golf was being recovered. Matt helped unload whilst I went to find Darren to apologise to him and the circuit staff.

I had a puncture at Schwalbenschwantz DN12 last July. I then had a small blowout at the end of Dottinger Hohe on DN14. Neither of which were pleasant ! The one at DN12 was a brand new Dunlop Slick that had only been used on that event, DN14 was a used Michelin. This was a lightly used Pirelli. All 3 were after the Pflanzgarten jump.

I don`t run kerbs until the tyres are up to pressure and warm and I don`t even go out with them really low, I start at 24psi and drop the pressures after each session. Cold starting pressure should actually be 17psi but I`m not happy running them so low.

I didn`t brake before the jump, instead waiting until I landed then gave it a quick dab before turning right and getting back on the power. Whilst getting one puncture is unlucky, 3 is a sign there is something seriously amiss especially when 1 tyre was brand new and 1 was hardly used.

Andy commented when we landed back in 2015 that it was the highest he`s ever been off the ground and a few corners later the brand new Slick had deflated.

What I believe is causing the issue is the landing after the jump and so I started dabbing before and after the jump. Not a big dab, but enough so the car didn`t land with a bang. Looking back the signs were there but that`s hindsight isn`t it

The delaminating tyre caused a lot of damage so the wheel was removed and everything closely inspected to ensure nothing had been caught by the stray rubber.

Everything was fine, brake pipes were untouched and so was the suspension. If the wing had been steel I suspect there would have been much more damage and the tyre would have been unable to escape as easily as it did, the wing was broken off when all 4 bolts pulled through the fibreglass.

The splitter is 12mm plywood and that was smashed off as if it was 3mm thick. Just try hitting a piece of 12mm Ply with a large hammer, it might crack but it won`t break off a piece that big. It just showed how much force was unleashed when the tyre failed.

The Aluminium skirt was pulled away from the chassis and the end deformed.

First job was to remove anything loose and then start securing what was remaining.

The brake duct was damaged beyond repair so that was binned. The skirt was massaged back into shape using a 2lb hammer and a piece of wood to straighten it out. The airdam was cable tied to the splitter supports and finally a new wheel was fitted.

The old tyre and wheel were beyond the point of repair. The flat spot you can just see is on the actual Alloy rim itself…

I spoke to the circuit staff and asked if it was possible to retrieve the remains of the wing once the day had finished. The radioed the marshall at the post before and he stopped and picked it up on his way back at the end of the day. It was in remarkably good condition considering what had happened to it !
Darren looked delighted to be able to return it to me.

By this time it was day over so I fetched the trailer and loaded up the Golf. After packing up we had a debrief for an hour about how the day had run and what we could do to improve the running of the second day. We always do this, Darren does everything possible to ensure smooth running of these events and by having this chat we can quickly identify any develping issues with drivers, cars or the running of the event and hopefully address them before they become a big issue.

Walked back to the guesthouse and started reattaching the wing. It was easy to bolt to the inner wing but I needed to secure the leading edge as the mounts were gone. I had some strapping I cut

Then bolted it to the bumper bar, the wing and the fence infront of the wheel.

I`d used some plastic sheet to cover the wheelwell in the boot so I removed that

and cut it into a cover piece / airdam then bolted to the strap to seal the repair.

The owner of the guesthouse supplied some plywood which was drilled and bolted to the splitter and then a bracket was formed to secure that to the airdam and wing. Everything was then covered with some gaffer tape to seal it up and make it look a little bit more presentable.

Once I was happy it was ready to go we strapped it down and I relaxed. I`d been concerned that would be the event over for me but I was now confident for Friday.

By now it was 19:30 and we were supposed to be having a meal at the Comfy Corner so we had the quickest shower possible and drove down into Adenau.

It`s around this time that I often feel tired, after a shower and before I`ve eaten but I don`t think I`ve ever felt quite as alert after a trackday. I thought it was the supplements but it could also have been the time I`d had to slowdown whilst repairing the wing.

I`ve been going to the Comfy Corner for the last 10 years and know Jörg well. He`s a smashing bloke and a fabulous chef. We usually go for a meal after the trackday so we can have a beer but he was fully booked on the Friday so we went down on Thursday instead. It meant I didn`t drink a beer but I didn`t need one ! There are loads of places to eat in the area but that`s not all this was. There were around 30 people who`d put their names down to have the meal and it`s that camaraderie that makes this more than `just` a trackday. We`ve traveled a long way to be here but everyone is there for the same reason and with that in common it`s easy to talk to anyone as they all share my passion for the Nurburgring.

Russ had saved us some seats and we joined the others for a meal and talk about the day. The weather had been perfect and I think there had been a couple of Red flags. I`d caused one which I kept apologising for and the other was a mechanical breakdown. There had been several recoveries for minor issues included more than one car who ran out of fuel !

Walking round the tables and the view from everyone was one of contentment and excitement about the next day. Not everyone was doing both days and with the weather forecast looking pretty grim for part of Friday they weren`t too upset about that.

I had some of Jorg`s legendary beef. I don`t know how he cooks it but it falls apart in your mouth and by the time I`d finished I was relaxed and anticipating Friday. He`d finished up in the kitchen and came out for a catch up. We didn`t have as long as I`d like to talk but I suppose you can`t have everything.

I was pretty tired, I think the Adrenalin rush was well and truly gone so we called it a night at 22:30 and headed back to the guesthouse. Straight to sleep and I was woken by the alarm which is almost unheard of for me on a trackday !

The weather was holding but the skies were looking much darker than yesterday. Matt helped setup whilst I removed the Golf from the trailer and parked up. It attracted even more attention that usual, the fact it was repaired and ready to go seemed to surprise a few people after they`d seen it by the side of the track yesterday.

What I found really interesting was the number of people who told me they`d had punctures on the ring. It isn`t something you hear about but there are far more than I`d ever realised. When a driver told me of his blowout on the front right tyre right in the middle of the Foxhole compression and described the subsequent impact I realised I`d actually been very lucky indeed.

On the second day of an event I`m usually relaxed and those dreaded butterflies are gone but I knew that until I`d driven the Golf I wouldn`t be able to relax.

I went out with Matt on the sighting laps and waited until there were no cars ahead or behind me and accelerated down the straight. Nothing rattled or fell off and the car pulled straight under acceleration and braking. Increased speed slightly and everything seemed OK.

Passing the T13 pits and a couple of people pointed at the Golf as we drove past. I like to think they were surprised to see it back out rather than laughing at the repair….

Lap completed and straight into the carpark to check everything was secure. It was so we went back out and did 2 back to back laps, again everything was good and the Toyo`s were warming up nicely.

It was Darrens Birthday. Not many people get birthday wishes like that.

Then it started drizzling and someone had an off causing a Red flag.

Wandering round the carpark during the closure wasn`t exactly a chore. A P1 that was driven on circuit AND a Carrera GT that was also being driven !

By now the drizzle had stopped and the circuit opened so I went back out again with Rich as a passenger.

As I was on the 2nd lap with him the boost dropped off and I had a feeling it was a boost hose that had popped off or something similar. Returning to the carpark I opened the bonnet I immediately found the cause. The R pin holding the actuator arm onto the wastegate arm had gone. I`ve had this happen before and I believe it`s down to vibration from the Turbo / Manifold so I`ll be adding extra bracing over the winter.

I split pin was given to me by a helpful Subaru driver and within minutes the Golf was ready to go again.

For no logical reason whatsoever that sounds even dafter when I read it back now, I would like the Golf to do 160MPH / 255kph on the GPS. Why ? Well simply because it`s a MK2 Golf track car that shouldn`t do 160MPH ! I`ve seen Boba`s mental drag car do far more but mine pounds round a track for long sessions and it was a tiny box I wanted to tick.

We had a good run down Dottinger Hohe as the wind had dropped off from yesterday. If I`d realised we were so close I`d have either reduced the rear wing angle slightly or pressed the boost button. Yeah, that`s a peak of 158.66MPH at 0.95Bar and 6,600rpm in 5th.. Not quite 160MPH but is was over 255kph ! 255.24 actually

There were a lot of people I`d promised laps to and I spend the next few hours taking someone out for a lap, coming in and taking someone else straight out.

Then the spare actuator I`d fitted at Cadwell failed. The thread stripped out of the wastegate connector which is something I`ve not had before. I don`t know how old this was so it could have been waiting to fail and the intense heat from being on track was enough to finish it off.

Fortunately, I`d taken my 3rd spare actuator . This is my last spare so I need to repair the other before the next outing. It was fitted in 20 minutes and I was back out again where it never caused another issue.

As part of the datalogging I log Exhaust Gas Temperature and I was very pleased to see it never went above 820Degrees C even on this 2 lap stint it sits just over 800 degrees C which gives me a lot of confidence that the mapping isn`t too lean or the timing too agressive at high loads.

Mission Motorsport were there and I took out several of their guys. I couldn`t take everyone out but Alastair took several in his Elise

Steve took some in the Caterham.

It happens everytime, there are simply too many for me to be able to take out in the limited time I have for them, but those I did take out thoroughly enjoyed it.

Duncan wasn`t driving on Friday so went out to spectate and take a few photos which are very appreciated.

I took Andy out and we followed IIlya in his Megane, he started overdriving a little so I dropped back a fraction so he didn`t feel pressured.

Before we started the lap I`d explained to Andy that if at any point he felt uncomfortable or wanted me to slow down he needed to let me know “I`ll be absolutely fine, don`t worry about it” was his reply.

I`ve found it best to have this discussion whilst sat in the carpark before going out. I also show passengers how to remove the harness in an emergency. I always ask how they are doing at Hatzenbach and Adenau Forst, just so they`ve had time to experience the car and make sure they are OK with it. This trip I didn`t have anyone ask to slow down a little but I usually get one person who asks me to back it off a touch. I don`t mind at all, they don`t know I`ve already backed it off and am only at 7/10 anyway. I`d rather them come back after a lap they enjoyed rather than one that was 5 seconds quicker and they wanted to get out.

Back in the carpark and he came over very excited about the lap we`d just had. I told him he`d started overdriving and suggested he relax a little instead of trying so hard, he knew exactly what I was saying and when I saw him a little later he was much smoother. He came to find me at the end of the day saying he`d gone much smoother since he consciously calmed down and thanked me for the tip.

As anyone who has done a lot of laps knows, if you knock a chunk of time off your fast pace, you can lap comfortably but your passengers still get a good lap. I only push on with Matt and Andy Carlile in the car. Matt instantly knows if I`m holding back and Andy only comes for a ride because he wants me to press on. I had a good couple of laps with Suzy as my passenger once she`d sorted the booster seat out…

Shaun was out in his MK2, those pesky Porsches keep getting in the way

I took Matt out and had a bit of a scruffy lap, it was one of those where I wasn`t overdriving but just kept missing the odd apex. That in itself isn`t a big thing, we all miss them every now and then but the pace of the laps was such that I shouldn`t have missed any.

Then Simon jumped in and I was just as bad

When we came back in Simon told me I needed to give it a while, have a drink and a bite to eat. I was absolutely buzzing and just wanted to keep lapping but needed the rest to calm myself down. I was so happy that everything was going well, I just wanted to keep lapping and lapping !

After the blowout I was unsure how Friday would go but apart from the Actuator issue the car was utterly faultless. I put fuel in it, checked the tyre pressures and added a splash of oil but it just ran and ran without a moments trouble. Exactly what I`d hoped it would be like and I was delighted when it didn`t miss a beat.

Once of my concerns with fitting the Plate diff was the driveshafts and more specifically the CV`s. Mid afternoon I upped the boost slightly so it was just over a Bar. Not for laptime but to load up the drivetrain more than I`d usually run it. I need to know it it`s going to holdup or fail, I can`t drive always wondering if there is a weak point waiting to bite me.

The track was dry, the new slicks were sticky and through corners like Eiskurve I purposefully took a tighter line on the power to drive over the bumps and really stress the CV`s. It`s where I had one fail before and it`s the hardest test on the Ring I know for them.

I was relieved when there wasn`t a single issue and now I can turn the boost down knowing the CV`s are suitable and if they ever do fail it`s because they are old and worn rather than not strong enough. I keep complete driveshafts with CV`s all built up and ready to fit on the trailer so it would be an easy swap if one did happen to fail but they weren`t needed this trip and I`m now much more confident that the drivetrain can cope with the increased load the Plate diff puts through it.

A stoppage whilst a car was recovered and the track opened only for it to close before anyone had completed a lap as an E46 racecar had a waterpump fail and spew coolant over the rear tyres. A real shame as it was driven extremely well and happened so quickly the driver had no chance to save it.

That took a short time to recover as it was at Galgenkopf and the recovery truck had to drive around the entire circuit to reach him.

Andy Carlile, the fastest man to ever lap the Nurburgring on a bike : knows a thing or 2 about driving the Ring .

Andy has had a lap in the Pinderwagen on every trip I`ve done for the last several years. He`s witnessed the ongoing development firsthand and we always dissect the laps afterwards to improve my driving style, lines and get some direction for car future improvements.

This trip was no exception and I managed to fit in a couple of laps with Andy in the passenger seat.

We didn`t go out to set a quick lap, we just wanted to drive a couple of laps so he could see the changes firsthand.

As you can see, he rather enjoyed himself and took note of EVERYTHING !

I always get asked how quick I was going, these laps are a perfect example of it not mattering. The laps ended up being 7:55`s rather than the low 7:30`s I`ve done before, but that is to miss the point entirely. Not only is there some traffic that slows me down at inconvenient times IF I was chasing laptime but empty laps soon get boring. I`ve done them on other DN events and I`ve had laps where I never saw another car but they just aren`t that interesting for anyone else to watch. It`s far more enjoyable to watch a video where there is traffic and you can gauge the speed of the car being driven much easier when you have that benchmark of another car on the circuit at the same time.

If you know Andy, you`ll know he can be a man of few words but when he does speak, I listen. He posted this on a thread elsewhere the other day and I think it helps add some context to my comments above.
“….I hold Nige’s Golf in the top tier of all time favourite vehicles regardless of how many wheels. It was good before, but a smidgen of money spending and its even better. The wheels are lighter, the suspension is about right and the way the diff drags it out of corners is a significant improvement – not just on speed, but in the way Nige can overawe the rear grip comfortably, with the utmost control, but in a speed complimentary way. There are a few small things that could improve (from a feel/useability perspective), but these would be expensive and be for small gains ( Santa needs to muster an adjustable pedal box, and a bucket of titanium bolts) The only problem I foresee is the car has moved up (again) in pace so another strengthening problem ought to appear soon due to increased corner exit grip. If any watchers are wondering why so much praise for a 7.55ish btg, well not many Golf’s get that fast, but there is a huge amount of time in reserve. Developing a car with your chequebook is one thing, building it in the garage over about 8 years is a path less trod. The car is brilliant.”

That was completely unexpected and unprompted but he captures what the Golf is about. As it happens I`ve developed a MK2 Golf that can lap at sub 7:30 pace on the Nurburgring. That`s pretty amazing considering I have no real automotive background, but it`s the way it has been developed and what I`ve learned along the way that gives me the most satisfaction. I`ve kept adjusting it to suit MY driving style and what I`m comfortable with. There is far more rear grip than a racer would want, but it gives me the confidence that allows me to comfortably drive at the pace I do. For example, I don`t mind the rear moving around a little on the brakes when I`m trailbraking, what I`m talking about is high speed oversteer due to low rear grip, I don`t like that so I`ve setup the Golf to not have that issue.

Then there was a short closure and several people said “That`s it, I`m not going out for the last lap”. As you know if you`ve ever read one of these reports before, I always like to finish the day on track and not in the carpark but I know many people who did that one last lap and crashed whilst on it. I certainly didn`t want THAT to happen so Matt jumped in and we set off on a final lap with a few minutes to go whilst bearing in mind it was going to be the last lap of 2016.

It was a nice lap and a great way to finish the event. We came across Russ in his CSL and just tagged onto the back of him for the last 1/2 of the lap. He indicated several times to let me past as he`d lost the rear wing yesterday and it was pretty tail happy when he pressed on but I was happy just to sit behind and enjoy the lap.

Red flags came out as we approached the Mini Karussell to signal the driving was over and we cruised to the carpark. I could have driven the next day without doing anything whatsoever and that was a wonderful feeling to finish the event.

Loaded up and then spent the next hour chasing transponders. You`d be amazed how many people forget about them and need a text to remind them to return it. Lots of people popped in on their way out to let us know what they thought of the event. I`m happy to report the vast majority was extremely positive with some suggestions for future minor tweaks that I`m sure Darren will mull over the winter months.

Matt and Simon had gone for a shower but I had one last thing I wanted to do.

Klaus drives this Schirmer V8 M3

If you are a regular at the ring you know how fast it is and what an accomplished driver he is. Not only that but he`s relaxed at the same time. Andy had spoken to Klaus and asked if he could take me out to go through a couple of things with me. I`ve got a bit of a mental block and was struggling to get past it. Klaus had been on both days of the DN event but we just never met each other when the track was open for me to jump in with him. Luckily for me he was also driving in TF and I jumped in for the last lap of the day.

It was what I hoped it would be and it`s given me a bit to think about over the next few months.

Once everything was packed up we had a shower and walked up the Lindenhoff. Now the driving was finished I could have a couple of beer and reflect on the last 2 days.

Helen thought that was a great idea and had a wine. Apparently it has lemonade in too.

There weren`t as many of us there tonight but we`d all had 2 great days on the Nurburgring and spent the next few hours swapping stories of memorable laps.

Andy and I had a short debrief about the Golf whilst it was still fresh in his mind. I hope he`ll find time to watch the video later and that will jog his memory for some more detailed thoughts but quite honestly the thing I need to resolve now is the damping. The Clubsports are Bump and Rebound adjustable but I`m always apprehensive about adjusting them. I don`t want to make them worse then find the next lap is awful to drive. My plan is to spend a day in the UK changing settings and getting a better feel for what they do and then I can take that knowledge with me to the Ring next time I`m over.

Separated at Birth ? Many people think we were.

I`ve spent many days with Duncan at the Ring over the years and it was fantastic to see him and Viv out there.

He didn`t take the Racecar, he fancied driving there in the Forester rather than towing but it did him proud and as it`s so long since he was out the Impreza would probably be no quicker until he got upto speed anyway.

As his day job is mapping cars I was keen to get his thoughts on my mapping of the Golf and a suggestion about how much power it was making but he was having none of it. I hadn`t realised the acceleration enrichment was causing a fractional hesitation when changing gear until Eric jumped in with me at Spa and I suspect Duncan will have several suggestions of tweaks I can make. However I can understand why he didn`t want to come out with me, he isn`t a good passenger on track at the best of times and the Golf would just be too quick for him….

An Elise had indicated to let me past going round EisKurve which had made my line tighter than usual and that had pushed me wide over the top of the crest. I`d run the rumble strip and caught the dirt at the end. I immediately said to my passenger “I must apologise to that Elise driver !, I`ve just showered him in dust and all he did was move over to let me past”

Peter turned up in the Lindenhoff and I had to quickly explain it wasn`t intentional once he introduced himself as “The driver of that Elise who let you past and you covered in dust !!”

We left around midnight and walked back to the guesthouse before falling into a deep sleep. Woke the next morning to an overcast sky and rain.

Darren has been incredibly lucky with the weather over the last several years, I`m not sure how he does it but he always seems to book perfect weather for these trackdays. People keep saying “April is too early or September too late” but this is the Eiffel, it can rain in the middle of July and be sunny in October.

I don`t think we`d have been smiling quite so much if this had been 24 hours earlier !

A quick stop in Adenau for some shopping and we left around 12:30. It`s a very steady run to Rotterdam but whilst you can catch the next tunnel or Channel ferry, this one only goes once a day so if you miss it, that`s it ! We drove there without stopping, we weren`t in a rush but there were zero delays and the time just flew by as we reflected on the last several days on the way back.
Arrived with time to spare and waited 30 minutes before we could board.

I`d been given a free upgrade to an outside room. I could never see the point myself, you are sailing across the North Sea in the middle of the night. The rooms are noticeably bigger than the inside berths and I`m not sure if they are all this large or just this section.

Simon had never been on this crossing so we went up onto the viewing deck but it was pretty chilly so we didn`t bother staying.

Matt downloaded the F1 Qualifying and we watched it whilst relaxing with a few beers before heading into the restaurant for the evening meal.

I don`t know if it`s because we produce so much adrenaline on a trackday or simply because we`re getting old but it was only around 10:30pm before we called it a night.

Had breakfast and a cuppa and went down to the cardeck when called. The row at the side of us emptied but we weren`t going anywhere. The driver of the motorhome ahead was nowhere to be seen. Several drivers behind got out of their cars and were getting annoyed when they finally decided to turn up looking suitably embarrassed at keeping everyone else waiting.

A trouble free drive back across the M62 and I could put the Golf away until I had time to replace the bumper and splitter.

Looking back through all that and it was a very enjoyable trip indeed. Having a 2 day event still didn`t give me enough time to take out all the people I wanted to but I`ve come to realise that unfortunately that`s the way it is.

The tyre failed but I didn`t hit anything and I caused a stoppage which I`m still more upset about that the actual damage caused by the blowout, at least it wasn`t for barrier repairs.

Mechanically I had 2 issues, the tyre failing which I now strongly believe has been caused by the jump at Pflanzgarten and the actuator arm / pin. That`s just fatigue of an old used part. It`s why I always get under the car after a trackday and check everything for any wear or damage. I`ve carried a spare actuator since I fitted a Turbo and it`s meant I could continue on 2 recent trackdays that otherwise would have been stopped early.

The Golf still continues to surprise me and exceed my expectations. Everytime I think it`s finished I find something else to change and it keeps getting better and better. I`m not really sure what`s next, weight saving would be nice but for the time and effort involved it isn`t happening anytime soon. Engine performance is more than adequate and I won`t be touching that in the next few years unless something needs attention.

Suspension needs the settings tweaking which I can do and I need to fabricate a new splitter and side skirt which I`ll get sorted when I have time.

Oh and I need to understand why the rear view camera didn`t get a single lap. That`s irritating when they usually work without a single issue.

I think I`ve typed quite enough now. In truth I probably typed enough several hours ago but I didn`t want to stop.

All being well the next Nurburgring trip will be #DN17 .

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