Nurburgring 24 Hour Race
Nurburgring 24 Hour Race.
Ross has a lot of driving experience at the Nurburgring and, in particular, at this event. An event as big as this deserves it's own page so here it is!
NURBURGRING 24 HOUR RACE
This is simply the biggest race in the world. The track is a combination of the Nurburgring GP circuit and the old Nordschleife circuit and is 15 miles long! Add 210 cars, 150000+ spectators run for 24 hours! Race information and results are available at www.24hr-rennen.de and further information on www.nurburgring.de .
Nurburgring 24 Hour Race May 29 - June 1 2003
Well this race was both unlucky and lucky for me. I was driving for the Saarle Go Kart Team in a BMW E36 Coupe with Knut Leube and ex Indy Car driver Arnd Meier. The unlucky part was having the worst accident I have ever had, the lucky part was finishing the race in 94th place despite loosing over an hour in the pits. On reflection I think I got off lightly and have to accept that this sort of thing happens from time to time. The last time I crashed a car was in 1996 at Spa Francorchamps, but that's another story!
The most important thing at the Nurburgring is to make sure that all of the drivers complete enough laps to qualify. Each driver has to do two flying laps to qualify, this doesn't sound like a lot but with the length of the lap it actually takes 2 hours to qualify all the drivers provided that there are no problems. The first session is a 2 hour session and the second session id a 4 hour session finishing at 11.00 PM. I was nominated to go out first which is not the best time to go out, with 230 cars going out to qualify at once the traffic is terrible at the beginning of the session so I did my first laps in the thick of the traffic. The teams second car had an engine failure in the second session so the team decided not to do much running in the second session so that the mechanics could concentrate on changing the engine in the other car. I did one more lap in the second session but I would have liked to have done a bit more running just to settle in to the car a bit more.
The Race got under way at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The build up to this race is incredible, to see 210 cars assembled on the grid is a spectacular sight and with 180000 spectators around the circuit the atmosphere is fantastic.
During the first few hours of the race we picked up a few places and the car was circulating well, we were lying 7th in class for some time which we were happy with at such an early stage in the race as this was a very competitive class. I got into the car about 4 hours into the race and the car felt good except for the brakes. The front discs had had it and there was a lot of vibration through the steering when braking and the pedal travel was a bit longer than it should be.
I had settled in to the car well when disaster struck on the fastest part of the track. An Audi TT DTM car and a Porsche were coming up behind me at over 300 KPH . The approach to Schweedencroitz corner is a series of down hills so the cars appear over the crest quite suddenly, I would normally keep to the left at this corner and let the faster cars find the way through on the right. Unfortunately I was on the right and didn’t want to cross their paths where the speed differential is so great so I stayed right. This put me on to the dirty part of the track and suddenly the back of the car stepped out , as I tried to correct the slide the car went on to the grass. Before I knew it I was travelling backwards, hit the crash barrier backwards, bounced off spun around and then hit it again front on. When the car came to rest I was pleased that it was the right way up and that the car still had four wheels on it so I selected first gear and carried on . The seat had broken away from the floor but the car otherwise felt ok so I went back to the pits as quickly as I could. The team checked the car over, repaired the floor and seat mounting, replaced the exhaust system fitted new brakes and taped up the bodywork before sending the car out again. We lost over an hour in the pits but it was lucky that there was no suspension or structural damage.
The car ran well for the remainder of the race and we ended up finishing 7th in class and 94th overall out of 210 starters.
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