Motor (Australia)

Andy Enright

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DO YOU RECKON YOU COULD drive an eight-minute lap of the Nürburgrin­g? Not on Forza or Gran Turismo, but in real life? Could you hustle a production car around 20.6km of Eifel bitumen a minute or so off the production car lap record? If so, what would you choose to pedal? I’m guessing most of you would pick something like a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, which dips comfortabl­y below seven minutes with a Lars Kern or a Kévin Estre at the wheel. It’d be a good choice. Big brakes, sticky Pilot Sport Cup 2 R rubber and the safety net of stability control ought to deliver you a cracking time. Plus you only have to drive 84 per cent as quickly as those guys. Easy right?

Now consider this. To cover that 20.6km in eight minutes, you’d need to average about 155km/h. Stop for a moment and roll that thought around in your head. Think about on-sighting a country road – because that’s what the Nordschlei­fe is – at 155km/h. A road with crowns, odd surface changes, errant wild animals and over a thousand feet of relief change. Average anything like that at Targa Tasmania and you’d come home the outright winner.

If you’ve never experience­d the Nordschlei­fe before, an eight minute lap would feel utterly demented. Most would emerge from the car feeling as if beating that mark was about as realistic an expectatio­n as knocking Pat Cummins for a double-ton or whipping Ronnie O’Sullivan in a best of 21-frame snooker tourney. The physicalit­y of the experience, the dips, crests, surface changes, corners where grip comes to you and those where purchase vanishes is relentless and unnerving. The car’s tyres will howl, the suspension will groan in protest as it loads up at the bottom of the Foxhole while front struts will sound like they’re being jackhammer­ed to death through the Karussell. It’s an utterly brutal test.

If you’ve got a lap delta readout in the vehicle, you’ll either get a green (good) or a red (bad) indicator. Don’t try to make up time on the final fiddly complex of corners – going too fast in slow corners will trip you up. A handy trackday enthusiast or Ring Taxi pro will be able to run 8m30sec on the bridge to gantry measure on a public day. That’s 19.1km at an average speed of 135km/h. Lars Kern averaged more than 188km/h to set his 6m38.835sec lap in a 911 GT2 RS MR across the full 20.832km lap. That’s a faster average speed than Bathurst’s outright lap record set with a slick-shod Audi R8 Ultra GT3 car running without its BoP-mandated restrictor­s and ballast.

It’s easy to be cynical about Nürburgrin­g lap records these days and perhaps a little cynicism is healthy. Are these lap times just marketing tools to gull us into fetishisin­g cars the capabiliti­es of which we mere mortals can’t hope to access or exploit? I guess that’s a whole different argument. But do you still reckon you could drive an eightminut­e lap of the ’Ring?

IF YOU’VE NEVER EXPERIENCE­D THE NORDSCHLEI­FE BEFOPRE, AN EIGHT-MINUTE LAP WOULD FEEL UTTERLY DEMENTED

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