It was 2 years ago that I was asked to become involved in a small 2 car team called Kiwi Team Nurburg. The timing wasn't right and I put it on the back burner so to speak.
In January this year I was again approached and took the plunge and committed to the event and the team.
It was only then that I decided to have a good look at what I'd committed my self to so I did some research as to what all the hype was about. At the end of the day it's just a 24 hour endurance race in a little Honda Civic right!
I soon got a reality check big time.
Sir Jackie Stewart once dubbed the Nurburgring as the Green Hell and I soon realized why.
It's a 24km 156 corner narrow race track that has constant elevation changes of up to 1100 metres, no run-off areas, and is completely encased in Armco!
Then there's the weather, the circuit is located in a mountainous region in Germany that has a rather fickle climate to say the least, it's not uncommon to experience 20 degree sun shine on the start finish line and have hail storms on the other side of the circuit. Then there's the fog, cold evening temperatures and the smoke from the spectator fires- more on that later.
The obvious point my research threw up was the desperate need to learn this circuit before jumping on a plane and heading to the other side of the world.
Enter VisionRacer. A good friend of mine had recently purchased 2 of these simulators and I had enjoyed many hours of competitive fun at his place.
David Harvey, the Managing Director of VisionRacer then very kindly offered me the use of a simulator to learn the circuit and sharpen my skills.
I spent about 10 hours on it before I left doing lap after lap of the Ring and what a revelation it turned out to be, it was simply invaluable. The first thing that struck me was how similar it all was in real life to what I'd experienced on the simulator. I was able to select the same Honda Civic Type R with the same horse power (249) and it even sounded the same! The graphics were also extremely accurate even showing the graffiti in the right spots on the track.
I was one of 3 fresh faces to the Ring from our team and was the only one lucky enough to have had some time in a simulator and it showed.
Given the circuit is so long and so complex any exposure to this place is beneficial. Just knowing what's over the many blind brows or how hard to push in a certain turn was a huge advantage and meant I could push harder and gain the confidence that's required to stamp your mark on this awesome place.
Back to the smoke, 250,000 fans come to witness this event, many of them camping there for a week before the race. Its just one big week long party. Many of them fill there time by building big bomb fires and as night falls on race day they set them alight and party on. The only problem with all of this is for the drivers, as late at night the wind drops and the smoke sits in the hollows of the circuit. To be charging through a fast left hander at 190km in the middle of the night and to hit a blanket of smoke is some thing that will stay with me for a very long time.
All in all it was an amazing experience made so much easier by VisionRacer and their awesome simulators, we finished 2nd in class with a straight car and a very tired but elated team.
Thanks so much for your support.