11 July 2011

A day out in a motorsport playground

I started my day by taking an early flight from London to Cologne with my mum. It’s round five of my British F3 Championship at Nurburgring, and returning to this track is always special. Last time I was there was back in 2009, in Formula BMW, but back then we never had time to wander around to see the facilities and other parts of the track, as that series ran with Formula 1, and it was always a busy schedule when you ran together with the top motor racing championship in the world.

We arrived in Cologne at about 12.30 in the afternoon and we rented a BMW 3 Series. The journey from Cologne airport to Nurburgring took us about 40 minutes and it was a nice countryside drive. When we arrived in Nurburgring, I was shocked to see all the new the facilities that have been built. It had everything you can think of! To name just a few there was a roller coaster , a 4 star hotel connected to the grandstand, a 3D cinema, a
casino, a shopping mall, car showrooms and  plenty more. It was amazing and so different to my last trip here when the facilities were a lot more limited.

We started off by exploring the big mall and went to look at the car showrooms such as Aston Martin, Nissan Sportscarsand a few others. The Radical and Phoenix Racing showrooms were shut, howeverwe could see some serious cars inside. Maserati had a special booth at the end wherethey were displaying their cars. They were promoting the new Maserati MC Stradale, which is the lighter, quicker version of the Gran Turismo. I had a chat with the Maserati test and development driver who was on hand at the
display and he showed me the cars. After that he told me to sit inside and
start up the car, which was really cool.  He was a really nice guy! The sound of the MC
Stradale is amazing. I want one!

After this grand tour of the the mall, Bruce Jouanny (my coach) and I decided to take my mum around the famous Nordschliefe circuit.  She had never been in a car on a race track, and she didn’t know that the circuit was 26 kilometres long, so the Nordschliefe was an amazing place for her first experience of driving on a racetrack.  She was so brave!

On that day they had closed the track to cars, with only motorbike riders to go on it.  Road cars had to wait until 17.15. We got there at  around 16.45 to buy a ticket for the track and waited in the car for about 20 minutes. I then got out of the car to take a breath of fresh air and all of a sudden a group of supercars arrived. There were Dodge Vipers, Porsches, Ferraris, Audis, Nobles, and allsorts. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is heaven.”

Bruce was going to drive the car on the Nordschliefe as he had raced there before. He drove a Peugeot RCZ with the Peugeot factory team in the famous Nurburgring 24hours so he knows the track pretty well. We queued up at the entry and drove off. I felt a little bit nauseous sitting in the back seat but it was still good fun. I was surprised mum didn’t scream or shout. She kept hold of her phone and filmed the whole lap on it. Bruce was literally driving to the edge of the car’s handling capabilities. He braked late and climbed aggressively on the kerbs. He even oversteered out at some of the exits of the slow corners so he could have a good exit. I must say it was a pretty scary experience for a back seat passenger!

My favorite section of the track was Kilometres 16-18. The combination of corners up the hill and blind entries made it extremely quick and rather challenging!. But it’s very flowing. The track ends with a short straight back to the start/finish line. The funny thing was when we approached there my mum said, “Was that it? I survived!” Bruce and I
laughed.

I really enjoyed myself and I’m sure my mum and Bruce did too. It’s such a unique playground and it’s a playground just for motorsports.

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