With the track only open to the same test cars today, we set our sights further afield. It was close to five years since I set out in my white 106 along the Mosel valley as part of a "home to Peugeot in Mulhouse" tour and I'd decided it was perfect for a few hours of wasting fuel, taking in the scenery and looking for the best fun roads we could find. We managed all three.
Rich jumped in shotgun in the S2000 and the cars were filled to the top with 102RON, a luxury for us Brits and certainly worth the €1.79 price tag for the F1 style pump handle alone.
Now facing the wrong way, rather than simply turning round and with plenty of time, it was a good excuse for a run up the switchbacks of the Hohe Acht road. After coming back around past Brunnchen my route took us into the small village of Meuspath before leading out onto a narrow and bumpy road named after a Honda engine, the K20. Matt and his Clio's suspension must have loved me. Certainly not a quick road, it was at least interesting, even more so when a testing 5 Series GT came hooning around a narrow corner into our path. Soon the roads became wider, quicker and more fun. A slow tourist in a Polo held us up for a short time though we turned off and got away, leading onto a long straight, perfect for VTEC.
We were lead along a typical German B road, nice and open with no hedges to obscure the view. Plenty of opportunity to hit the apexes and take the racing line. A disappointment came when a bus came into view a few corners ahead, though as we took the next series of bends it was clear that the number 713 was not hanging around. At some points he seemed to pull away, at all points he had wheels well and truly on the apex.
We followed him down to our first stop of the day in Tries Karden, parking along the riverside once we'd negotiated the dropped kerbs. Matt loves the dropped kerbs. After a quick stop here to cool the cars down and a first opportunity to check the oil levels on the flat we drove off towards Cochem, although the route along the river was closed at this point. We were taken past the supermarket with the helicopter (only a few people will understand what I mean by that) and up over the hills. Following the other diverted traffic meant being held up on the bends down into the town, which Rich saw as the perfect chance to lean right out the car and get some formation photos.
Once in Cochem I headed for the station car park, although following the signs for the Bahnhof only lead me to a cobbled street in from of the station. Matt loves the cobbles. A few turns later and I found the little bridge into the car park and we parked up, paid a respectable 50c and gave ourselves an hour to wander round the town. On the way out of the car park on foot, we noticed a bright yellow 106 and my inner geek wanted to find out if it was a Sport or an S16. The steel wheels and cloth interior showed it was indeed a rare Sport. We wandered around the cobbled streets looking for somewhere to eat, only finding a coffee shop that looked to posh for us and a rotisserie chicken van. Instead, we decided not to eat, bought drinks from the local Shell station and wandered down the river looking for a toilet. After a trip into the Bahnhof we decided there was nothing more to do here and set off.
I set the satnav for a windy looking piece of road another 15 miles along the river. We now got to drive the flowing road through the valley, surrounded by the vineyards on the steep hillsides, through a couple of small villages and on to the twisters. This road did not disappoint. A local in a Laguna in front saw what we were up to and kindly pulled over so not to ruin our fun. Hairpin after hairpin gave us chance to get more photos and for at least one MR2 to get a little sideways. Again we pulled over the let the cars cool before commencing.
The way back was much of the same route, despite my planning, so I added in another detour, this time to the Kempenich sign from my previous trips. It's become a kind of tradition. While the 106 had a tenancy to roll off down the hill, Adam's MR2 instead made lots of danger noises before proceeding to dump a load of coolant. We were here for a while then. Woz and Rich each took a turn to take the S2000 down the road and then fiddle with the (now completely functional) electric roof.
Eventually, Adam was able to top the water up and we made our way much more gently back to the hotel, taking the Hohe Acht road as a gentle cruise serenaded by Brian Eno's An Ending (aka the Top Gear end of series music) seeing rather fitting in the low light.
Once back, we rested for a while as Adam and Woz went out to check on the MR2. Matt took to the trackside with camera before being told off by security for being in the "red zone". Eventually I could resit no longer and the buckets came out to give the S2000 a wash. Woz eventually caved in too, leaving a variety of different shades of red in the hotel car park. Stickers were fitted all round, or in Woz's case, screwed up and thrown on the floor. I also got chance to decorate the sign at the top of the steps with my own sticker, leaving topalwaysdown's mark at the 'Ring.
Our restaurant for the night was the floor below. I even continued to wear my slippers. There were no blonde waitresses on show tonight, the only nice jugs on offer were full of Coke, Sprite and Warsteiner. Steak was served as it always should be, on a piping hot stone. A variation on the theme saw Matt and Adam with pork and chicken in addition to the usual beef, while the rest of us went for the rump. The sauces were lovely, though the rest of the meal was incomparable to the fillet from two nights before. We know where we will be returning to...
Full of steak, we retired to our rooms, putting off the traditional Steilstrecke walk for another day...