RACE 2: Nurburgring Nordschleife 4hrAfter my victory in the Super Speedway 150 miles, I found myself desperate to enter a race with some semblance of strategy, and more importantly, actual corners. So I signed up for a four-hour battle on one of the most treacherous racing circuits in the world: the 12.9 mile, 157-corner Nurburgring Nordschleife. The 4 hour variant of this event is contested by standard sports sedans and coupes, rather than the touring car/GT field in the 24 hour. Deciding to select a car with at least some heritage to the circuit, I ended up picking the Mercedes 190E Evolution II, which was a homologation model produced for the Mercedes DTM program in the late 80s/early 90s - I felt confident that it would be a good fit for the circuit. Armed with my completely stock Mercedes, I started up the race and loaded up the starting grid.
A-Spec points: 108
Vehicle Used: Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II '91
108 A-Spec points; evidently it'll be harder than the Super Speedway 150 miles. On with it, then!
With the least powerful and oldest car on the grid, I'm counting on my tyre efficiency and handling to get the victory here; the lumbering S-Type R is quick on the straights but slow in the corners, and I've already passed it as we head into Hocheichen. The Camaro SS is similarly easy to pass, and a mistake on his part sees him slide off the circuit at Flugplatz, handing me fourth place. The RX-8 is ahead, and we battle continuously for the rest of the lap, before I finally pass him as we exit Dottinger Hohe to start a new lap. I'm nearly 15 seconds behind the leading Evolution VIII; got some catching up to do.
I'm slowly pulling away from the RX-8, and by the end of lap 3, I'm about ten seconds up the road. The Jaguar and Camaro have vanished in my rear view; I'm about 12 seconds behind the Evo VIII and just catching glimpses of the Corvette at the end of long straights. However, a stupid mistake exiting Flugplatz sees me run wide onto the gravel; the RX-8 closes right back up, and I'm now 17 seconds behind the Evo VIII, which is by far the fastest car on pure pace in this race. However, the powerful V6 and 4WD drive system take their toll on the tires, and the Evo dives into the pits at the end of lap 4. I move into second, and start pulling away from the RX-8 again - my tires are a light orange on the display, enough to take off a few seconds per lap but not enough for me to gain this much on the Mazda. His tire wear must be worse than mine. I'm 14.1 seconds behind the Corvette at the start of the lap, but a solid in lap sees me pit just 11.966s seconds off the Corvette, who pits on the same lap!
1. Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, leader - 1 stop -
2. Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II, +11.966s - 1 stop -
3. Mazda RX-8 Type S, +25s - 1 stop -
4. Mitsubishi Evolution VIII MR, + 39s - 1 stop -
5. Jaguar S-Type R, ~+1m 05s - 1 stop -
6. Chevrolet Camaro SS, ~+1m 08s - 1 stop -
Slowly, I begin whittling down the lead of the Corvette. It's a largely uneventful stint, although lap 8 is my fastest lap of the race so far at 8.06.851. The RX-8 continues to hold up the Evo VIII, and thankfully we don't see it again, as it's much faster than either me or the Corvette. The Evo pits again at the end of lap 8, with the Camaro and Jaguar following suit; they pit every 4 laps, while me and the Corvette pit every five. The RX-8 pits on lap 9; presumably, he's going on an alternating 5-lap/4-lap pit strategy.
By lap 8, my gap to the Corvette has closed to 8 seconds, and in the 9th lap, he slides off at Hatzenbach corner, and I close up to within a second. This produces some of the most incredible racing thus far; we went through Flugplatz nearly side by side, and after a hair-raising dive, I gained the lead at Bergwerk, only to lose it on the entry to Klostertal. However, my hubris gets the better of me, and I enter the Karussell too fast, spinning 90 degrees and hitting the wall. By the time we start lap 10, the final lap of the stint, I'm 7.2 seconds behind. The Corvette, however, is slower on his threadbare tires, and by the time we both pit at the end of lap 10, we're practically nose-to-tail.
1. Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, leader - 2 stops -
2. Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II, +0.869s - 2 stops -
3. Mazda RX-8 Type S, +41s - 2 stops -
4. Mitsubishi Evolution VIII MR, ~+ 1m 03s - 2 stops -
5. Chevrolet Camaro SS, ~+2m 23s - 2 stops -
6. Jaguar S-Type R, ~+2m 32s - 2 stops -
A stupendous out lap sees me take the lead with a risky move around the outside of the Corvette at Hatzenbach. I start putting in some solidly quick laps, all in the region of 8m 07s - 8m08s, and it gets to a point where I'm pulling away from the Corvette by four or five seconds per lap. By the time I pass the checkpoint at Pflanzgarten on lap 14, I'm nearly sixteen seconds ahead of the Corvette, but then again they do say pride comes before the fall.
My worn rear right tire clips the cobbles on the downhill run into Pflanzgarten, and my car wrenches to the left, spinning 90 degrees and hitting the wall almost head on. My wheels lock as I bounce off the barrier and a cloud of smoke surrounds me. I'm facing the wrong way, and it takes me some time to get back up to speed. The Corvette closes a 16 second gap to under two seconds by the Galgenkopf checkpoint, and overtakes me on the run down Dottinger Hohe by virtue of his higher top speed. As we head into lap 15, I'm right on the Corvette's bumper; spotting my chance, I dive up the inside in Hocheichen, and successfully defend my lead, pulling out a 3.1s gap by the time I've pitted in for fresh rubber. It's the first ever pitstop I've made in the lead, and while it's by no means a victory, it certainly feels like one.
1. Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II, leader - 3 stops -
2. Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, +3.120s - 3 stops -
3. Mazda RX-8 Type S, ~+1m 04s - 3 stops -
4. Mitsubishi Evolution VIII MR, ~+ 1m 23s - 3 stops -
5. Chevrolet Camaro SS, ~+3m 12s - 3 stops -
6. Jaguar S-Type R, ~+3m 44s - 3 stops -
An entirely uneventful stint. I extend my lead to 15s over the Corvette, the many stops of the Evo plunge it down the order, and one of the slower dots remains stationary on the map screen for a bit on lap 16. I assume the Jaguar or Camaro has spun; the delay between the Camaro and Jag pitting tells me it's the Jag. Ah well. I pit at the end of lap 20 with absolutely no issues.
1. Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II, leader - 4 stops -
2. Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, +22.588s - 4 stops -
3. Mazda RX-8 Type S, ~+1m 26s - 4 stops -
4. Mitsubishi Evolution VIII MR, ~+ 2m 29s - 5 stops -
5. Chevrolet Camaro SS, ~+4m 48s - 5 stops -
6. Jaguar S-Type R, ~+5m 06s - 5 stops -
It's the penultimate stint. I use about 42 units of fuel per lap - I reckon if my calculations are correct, the 4hr timer will end on lap 29, so I won't need to refuel for the rest of the race. Just in case, however, I save fuel for the first two laps of the stint, ensuring I can make it to the end of 30 laps. Again, the stint is very uneventful. Apart from a minor off at Flugplatz and a hair-raising moment as I somehow manage to drift the Karussell, nothing happens, and I pit for the final time on lap 25 with no issues.
1. Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II, leader - 5 stops -
2. Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, +47.995s - 5 stops -
3. Mazda RX-8 Type S, ~+1m 58s - 5 stops -
4. Mitsubishi Evolution VIII MR, ~+ 3m 04s - 6 stops -
5. Chevrolet Camaro SS, ~+6m 05s - 6 stops -
6. Jaguar S-Type R, ~+6m 22s - 6 stops -
The final stint; after three and a half hours, these last few laps will determine victory. I've pretty much got it in the bag, and with some extra fuel, I can afford to put in a few fastest laps. I set a 8:06.602 on lap 27, my first fastest lap since lap 8, and immediately beat that on lap 28, with a scorching 8:04.357. Lap 29 is the final lap; apart from a near-crash at Adenauer Forst, it passes without incident. The Jaguar's minimap dot is pretty close to being lapped, but I never manage to actually see it. The timer finally runs out as I pass through the Stefan-Bellof S curve, and I weave slightly down the Dottinger Hohe in celebration of my victory.
After 29 laps... it's finally over.
Race duration: 4 hours, 00 minutes
(all finishing gaps are estimated from on track location at time of leader finish)
1ST PLACE: Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II '91 - 29 LAPS - 5 stops
2ND PLACE: Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport (C4) '96 - + 1 minute 12 seconds - 5 stops
3RD PLACE: Mazda RX-8 Type S (J) '03 - + 2 minutes 24 seconds - 5 stops
4TH PLACE: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR GSR '04 - + 3 minutes 21 seconds - 6 stops
5TH PLACE: Chevrolet Camaro SS '00 - + 7 minutes 09 seconds - 6 stops
6TH PLACE: Jaguar S-Type R '02 - + 7 minutes 35 seconds - 6 stops
Laps completed: 29
Distance covered: 604.1 kilometers (375.4 miles)
Average speed: 150.74 km/h (93.68 mph)
Fastest laptime: 8 minutes, 4.357 seconds
A-Spec points: 108
Credits earned: 200,000, plus Chaparral 2D Race Car '67 prize car
With my two victories displayed on the menu screen, I decided to complete the El Capitan 200 mile endurance next; however, I'd be adding a few extra challenges of my own...
2 RACES DOWN, 14 TO GO