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The Nordschleife line Bend by bend guide Tips from the professionals All the facts All the info
In 8.22 minutes aro-und the NrburgringNordschleife in theBMW M3 with SMGDrivelogic.
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Ready for take-offThe mystery of the Nordschleife can be expressed in precise figures:the lap records reflect heroic feats and technological summits
3 Nordschleife special
The rule applies both to racing carsand road cars: nothing reveals mo-re than the lap time on the Nrbur-gring Nordschleife. Why? Because thespeed of a car has to be in its genes: lowcentre of gravity, pulling power, balancedweight distribution and a perfectly adju-sted chassis which can cope with theattacks of this bumpy track.
A glance at the history book of re-cords attests to milestones of racing tech-nology and automobile construction and demonstrates the state of technolo-
gy as the years passed. Since Formula 1engines have not been heard at the Ringsince 1976, their best time has long beensurpassed by todays standards: Clay Re-gazzoni burned a lap time of 7.04 minu-tes into the Eifel circuit. The fastest ofthe fast was Stefan Bellof in 1983: 6.25minutes in the Porsche 956 for a lap ofthe Ring in racing trim. In the qualifying,he even made it 14 seconds faster, at anaverage speed of 200 km/h. All other re-cords pale in comparison, mainly becauseprofessional racing has avoided the Ringsince then. This is actually a shame, as
shown by the DTM record of Johnny Ce-cotto in the BMW M3: 8.46 minutes forthe 25.3 kilometre combination of Nord-schleife and GP circuit.
Because the Ring is no longer used forracing cars, it is now used more by regu-lar road vehicles: Wolfgang Kaufmannsqueezed a lap time of 7.32 minutes outof a Gemballa Porsche with over 600 bhp on regular tyres. But the fascination ofa new record will always be there afterall, fast lap times promise fame and glory.
Formula 1 record:Clay Regazzoni took 7.04 minutes
Fabulous best time: 6.25 minutesfor Stefan Bellof in the Porsche 956
DTM record: Johnny Cecottoholds the M3 record
Road record: 7.32 minutes forthe Gemballa Porsche
Record-breaking:in the past, not only thelap times counted butalso the road holdingassessment.
START/F IN ISH TO HOCHEICHEN
After a short high-speed passage at just over 200 km/h, we go into one of the technicallymost demanding sections of the Nordschleife, the Hatzenbach-Geschlngel. Entering this
can be treacherous as the pace is reduced in two stages, as it were: in the undulating brakingzone at the end of the straight you should brake short and hard and shift down from fifth tofourth gear. At the end of the first left-hand bend there is then the second deceleration for thelong double right, taken in almost all cars in third gear and with a fixed steering angle. Sin-ce being given a new layer of asphalt, the double right bend has lost much of its hor-ror: many a car used to get stranded in the tyre piles here due to the dangerouslyslippery surface.
Nordschleife special 4
The left bend after the starting line is the first challen-ge: before the initial braking zone there is a crest
where the car can become slightly unsettled. So always bra-ke before or after the crest. The braking zone itself hasmany small bumps. Because of the narrowing left-hand exitto the bend, it is better to turn in late so as to be able to un-wind the steering lock again immediately after the apexand then progressively accelerate out of the bend. In sodoing, ride well towards the curb though avoiding anycontact. Insensitive acceleration is particularly fatal in wetconditions with rear-wheel drive: this second-gear bend isas slippery as soap. It can be taken in third gear, dependingon axle ratio and drive concept, but rear-wheel drive cars inparticular will quickly tend to understeer because of thelack of punch.
For speed freaks, the first test of cou-rage occurs only 500 metres after the
starting line. The ultra-fast Hatzenbachcurve is highly demanding. Braking as youapproach will be lighter or harder, depen-ding on engine power. When braking, caremust be taken to ensure that the car isstanding as straight as possible this facili-tates finding the ideal turn-in point. Becau-se this is an off-camber turn with roughbumps making things very unsettled fromthe apex, the driver has to gently ease thecar into the fourth-gear bend. Coming outof it again, ride well out and then accelera-te very early. Caution is essential in heavyrain: wide rivulets form right across thetrack!
The data for gears, distance measurementand speed recommendations is based on ameasurement lap in the BMW M3 SMG,with a Nordschleife lap time of 8.22 minu-tes. The ideal line is shown in colour, as inour Formula 1 graphics, the braking zonesprior to the turn-in points are marked asdouble black lines.
Allow for a safety marginRound the fastHatzenbachcurve, youshouldntride too far
out to the left just tobe on the safe side.Because of the bumpysurface, a lot cars willtend to displace oreven jump.
Special tip fromBMW works driverJrg Mller
2nd gear 3rd gear 4th gear5th gear6th gearBraking zoneTurn-in point
5 Nordschleife special
Part two of the Hatzenbach-Geschlngel isfor drivers with feeling. After accelerating
evenly out of the double right, hold your accele-rator pedal and your breath: the left-hand kink istaken at the far right-hand edge of the track soas to use a wide radius and under constantthrottle, i.e. with a fixed accelerator pedal positi-on. Experienced Ringers will be mindful of thetreacherous bump at the apex, largely elimina-ted since a new asphalt layer was added. The ad-vantage is that you no longer have to clip the in-side curb to keep the car stable. Between exitingthis bend and going into the final S of the Hat-zenbach-Geschlngel, sensitive and carefullycontrolled deceleration work is required: withsoft suspension settings, the car will tend to rockon a fast change of bends. If this tendency isreinforced by abrupt braking, the result is coun-terswing and departure into the nearby Hatzen-bach crash barriers.
One of the characteristic and most fascinating passages of the Nrbur-gring Nordschleife bears the name Hocheichen: the S following on from
the Hatzenbach bends nestles wildly and awe-inspiringly in the topographyof the surrounding Eifel landscape. Before the new asphalt was laid, the ent-rance was so slippery that even experienced drivers frequently misjudged.Even now, especially in the autumn when fir needles cover the track, the run-up to the right kink can still turn into a slide: with road tyres, even 70 km/hcould mean the end. Because the right-hand kink leads up to a blind crestwhich is off-camber from the apex, speed control is absolutely crucial. Here,less is usually more otherwise turn-in understeer can get you into quite sometrouble. The broad left arc as you come out of Hocheichen is simply amazing:the steep downhill slope gives the driver a sense of being on an oval racetrack and you have to really hit the acceleration as early as possible on thelong subsequent straight. Racing cars with tight suspension tend to jump andshift a little here. Tip: run wide, even as far as the cobblestones - here you canalready change into fourth gear.
The exit of the Hatzen-bach passage turns out
to be a treacherous stopperat the end of quite a fluidbend combination. The finalleft corner in particular tigh-tens very nastily. For this rea-son, speed has to be perfect-ly regulated coming into thistightening left: either do thebrake work when turning in-to the final S or brake downagain slightly before the lastleft corner. Come out of thebend as far to the left of the
track as possible so as to open the radius for the tight bend. The steering is kept hard downand then unwound so as to be able to gain optimum acceleration and not understeer and clat-ter up onto the curbs. You then change immediately to the left of the track to position for bra-king into the Hocheichen bend. The new road surface provides good grip even in the rain.
Please work towards your own personal upper limit step by step!
QUIDDELBACHER HHE TO AREMBERG
Nordschleife special 6
Cobblestononone rumb e strip
2nd gear 3rd gear 4th gear5th gear6th gearBraking zone
Turn-in pointPosition of expert-car
After the tight and technically demanding Hatzenbach Geschln-gel and Hocheichen, we head on for Quiddelbacher Hhe at full
tilt. The track is very narrow and uneven and the old surface is very slip-pery. The bridge over the B 257 is as narrow as the eye of a needle, andcars tend to get caught up with each other here in heavy traffic. If thepath is clear, you take the right bend over the bridge from the middle ofthe track and allow yourself to run out to the left, so as to be ideally po-sitioned for the double right at Flugplatz. The climb to QuiddelbacherHhe is so steep, it is like going up a take-off ramp. You should alwayskeep left here, overtaking on the right is risky at best: the enormousbump is even higher there, and the ensuing flight therefore longer. Po-werful cars should be tempered with sensitive braking on the crest tostop them from lifting off.
The doubleright atFlugplatz hasbe approachedwell over to theleft, otherwise
your car will jump awayfrom you on the crest.Better to go in slightlyslower and then getback on the gas morequickly thats thequicker way to do it.
The Flugplatz separates the men from the boys: depending on your car, you will come flying over thecrest of the Quiddelbacher Hher in fourth or fifth gear, brake short and hard mainly to stabilise the
front axle before turning in, and allow yourself to fall into the dramatically fast double right kink at highspeed.The two curves should be combined to a single bend with a turn of the steering wheel. On the first cur-ve section keep close to the inner curb. Between the first and second curve there is a lengthy bump whichgently lifts the car out of its springs for the second section: for this reason, it will tend to drift on all fourwheels as you come out of the double right. Here you know you cant go much faster! Be careful in wet wea-ther: deep puddles await you as you exit!
Special tip fromBMW works driverJrg Mller
The crest is dangerous
This is one of the Nordschleifes real tests of courage:Schwedenkreuz. At this treacherous crest there is a
cross from the 30 Years War - and even today, car, driver andtrack can find themselves at war with one another at thispoint. The approach is awe-inspiring: you fly over the firstcrest at top speed. The car gets lighter, the suspension has tosettle a little after landing before you can begin initial brakingon the right-hand side of the track. Because you turn in blindfor the left-hand bend over the crest, the release point has tobe just right: if you turn in too early, you have to make a cor-rection around the apex, if you move away from the right-hand side of the track too late, you will easily find yourself onthe soiled outside lane. Taking the Schwedenkreuz bend is al-ways a balancing act because the car is completely derailedon the crest at the apex and thus very unsettled. In order toget the subsequent brake manoeuvre right, do not allowyourself to ride out too far at Schwedenkreuz itself. It is alsoimportant to build up gradually to possible speeds: anyoneflying into the Schwedenkreuz at 200 km/h should be fullyaware of what they are doing!
The section between Flugplatz and Schwe-denkreuz is often underestimated: the two
left curves are quite gentle and the line on the left-hand side of the track and the following dip beforethe Schwedenkreuz are not a problem if you are fa-miliar with the circuit and conditions are dry. Ho-wever, this section is hellishly fast fifth or sixthgear, depending on your car and the peacefulscenario changes dramatically in wet conditions.The second left-hand bend before the deep dip isparticularly nasty in rain: the aging surface causesundersteer in front-wheel drive vehicles and sud-den oversteer in rear-wheel drive vehicles whenyou turn in at full speed. At the appropriate speedshere of well over 200 km/h, this kind of stunt caneasily end in a write-off.
7 Nordschleife special
The Aremberg bend actually begins in the Schwe-denkreuz section: you fly towards the braking point
at least 200 km/h, with many bumps making decelerationdifficult. Shifting down rapidly on the left-hand side of thetrack over bumps often causes the wheels to block: so donot brake too late and leave some room at the left-handside, as most cars tend to shift dangerously when brakinghere!Although the Aremberg bend has an even radius, the lineis quite angular: for this third-gear bend you turn in quitelate and hard so as to shift the apex towards the bend exit.The advantage is that you can unwind the steering lockearlier and accelerate out faster, so you can slingshot intothe Fuchsrhre.
Please work towards your own personal upper limit step by step!
The section bet-ween the Arem-
berg bend and theFuchsrhre looks sim-ple but can be verynasty. The passagedips down a steepslope over bumps, arough surface makesit difficult to main-tain your course at ahigh speed. Basically,you try to combinethe left-right-leftcombination into a straight, so you approach the passage from the Arembergbend on the right-hand side and then speed through on a straight line downto Fuchsrhre. In doing so, you keep close to the curbs but never clip them! Itis also important to find a sensible shift rhythm: if you shift up at the wrong ti-me, the car unsettles. This section is tricky in the rain: the surface is as very slip-pery in the area of the first left-hander! A possible surprise: if you are trainingin the early morning, watch out for deer crossing!
The dramatic end of the downward slope goes by the name of Fuchsrhre and is asspectacular as it is fast. In dry conditions, with confidence on the accelerator and not
too much power, the be...