The sat nav delighted me as it gave a right turn after the village of Kempenich which I knew was taking me down the excellent Hohe Acht road where after the first few glimpses of red and white barrier through the trees we turned under the track and arrived at our base for the next 24 hours, Hotel an der Nordschleife. We were greeted not only by Eddy’s family who help to run the hotel but by another PoT member who we’d arranged to meet. Matt and his girlfriend, Tamsin had been here most of the week and would now be joining our convoy for the next few days.
Our short drive meant a very early check in, in fact the maid was still cleaning our room, so with the bulk of our baggage emptied we headed down just in front of the hotel to the newly refurbished cafe for currywurst all round before paying a visit to everyone’s favourite shop, the Rewe beer supermarket for a stock up.
Next we drove up to the visitors centre for the usual browse around and while the others looked at stickers to add to their cars after our laps, I searched through the reduced to clear corner and found a Brawn GP cap which after some price haggling from Jez ended up coming back with me. A few of us had a quick race on the Raceroom simulators while the rest had a look around the other end of the centre. As usual, the DBR9 was a good bet and I ended up beating Matt, though it probably wasn’t the cleanest of drives…
We took a visit to the Dottinger Hohe ED petrol station for the 306 to refuel, joining a huge queue of M3s that had been using the track since we arrived and once we got to the entrance car park still about 15 minutes before opening time the loudspeaker annouced that we were good to go, ahead of schedule. It was all fairly quiet, in Nurburgring terms, ie. there were still spaces free in the main car park, but still I gave it ten minutes for the initial rush to die down and went to purchase laps. I nervously handed over the S2000 keys to Jez with the line ‘Bring it back, please. I’d like a lap too...’ and as he took Davo out for the first passenger lap, I jumped in with Steff with the cab’s roof down (naturally) to shout lefts and rights while the Honda followed.
No doubt, the 306 isn’t really cut out for the ‘Ring and Steff had to drive to it’s abilities rather than rely on my ‘you can go really quick through this corner’ instructions. Even a couple of ‘flat out’ commands were met with ‘I am...’. And after following to Breidscheid the S2000 then made a break for freedom, to be fair we were holding it up.
We met up again in the car park, I was pleased to find the S2000 still in one piece and with it cooled for ten minutes we all swapped over. I now took Ed out in the Honda with Matt following in his Clio for a short while until he disappeared from view after a few corners. The 306 went out this time three up, Steff giving Jez and Sean a ride.
The good news is that the S2000 felt much better in the dry than on my previous damp trip last year. The bad news is that it still needs a fair bit of work to the suspension for it to feel properly planted, something that was highlighted even more when just before the final corner I was passed at great speed by Davo, passengering in what turned out to be a ‘standard’ 1.8 MX-5. Oh…
At which point, after seeing the look on Davo’s face it was decided that it wasn’t worth taking our cars out again. Instead, we gave Bren money for fuel and let him use his unlimited laps Jahreskarte to show us all one by one how a veteran of 13,000 laps and a previous bike lap record holder can take a normal car with a dodgy engine around the track in around 8 minutes.
Each passenger returned looking suitably white and in shock and eventually it was my turn. And for the next eight minutes I became nothing more than a grinning idiot in the passenger seat. Perhaps it was because I knew the corners that were coming up at each place but I wasn’t scared, just amazed. It was clear that the car wasn’t fast in a straight line but on the Nordschleife, that doesn’t matter. This car was all about carrying the speed through each corner. I’m not sure how often he braked but in the few places his did it was never for long. And this meant that nothing came past, in fact quite the opposite as this cheap little car was passing the regular Porsches and M3s all the way around.
Bren was happy to have a chilled out conversation whilst he was doing this and with his explanation of sticky rubber, polybushes and shocks and springs I could feel my shopping list getting longer and longer. My first thought on my return was that I wanted that MX-5, or at least one specced like for like. Although on second thoughts what I really wanted was my S2000 to handle like that MX-5 and that’s the lasting thought that I came away with from that day.
Now at well past 7pm with the car park emptying and everybody back from passenger rides we were already late for our booked table for tea though it was only a five minute drive into Nurburg to another ‘usual’ spot. The Pistenklause restaurant is famous for one major reason, which is the reason that we were also served incredibly quickly. I don’t think anyone looked at the menu. When Tamsin ordered fillet steak everybody just looked at each other, nodded and I said ‘Yep, ten of those please’. And only five minutes later, ten raw cuts of steak arrived on ten piping hot slabs of stone. Ah, the lovely Steak auf Stein. It gets very warm around the table very quickly. And if you look up your eyes will water for the smoke filling the air. But this gorgeous meal is well worth it and a true Nurburgring tradition. And with the plates cleared and approval from the waiter we even added our tour sticker to the grafitti’d roof of the restaurant. Top job from Steff!
Before long we were out the door and all that was left was another ‘usual’, an after dark walk from Breidscheid up to Wehrseifen where the fresh tarmac was in need of decoration and the repainted tyre barrier was given another spare sticker.