Trip to the Nurburgring Nordschleife, October 2016
Interesting trip to the 'Ring this year, it was a bit of a last minute decision so we were all rushing around trying to get the cars ready. All I needed to do was take the Caterham Academy car I'd had since 2007 in for a service over at Sevens & Classics at Brands Hatch.
However, when i got there, I started looking at all the other cars they had there for sale, before long, I'd had a couple of test drives and a part exchange deal was done on a ten year older car, subject to Sevens & Classics being able to carry out a couple of modifications for me before the 'Ring trip.
Although 10 years older, my 'new' Caterham was a Supersport, with wide track suspension, 4 pot brakes, adjustable suspension, a heater(!), half a roof and most importantly, a DVA built 1.8 K-Series on Jenvey throttle bodies kicking out a reported 199bhp (though looking at the graphs I found in the paperwork later, I think more like 175bhp unless a Caterham loses over 60bhp between engine and wheels!). The modifications required were the floor to be lowered, an uprated brake master cylinder to match the 4-pots and to rebuild the open diff with a shorter ratio and limited slip.
With 4 days to go before we were leaving for the 'Ring, the car was ready to be collected. I had already ordered and collected some new Toyo R888R tyres so they went straight on and the car was tucked up in the garage ready for the off.
3.00am on the 1st of October comes round, I get up having had no sleep (can't sleep before a 'Ring trip!) ready for our 3.30am start, it's pissing down, well of course it is, what was i thinking, planning to drive a car with plastic doors and half a roof 400 miles across Europe in October!! I quickly broke out the cling film, as experience has taught me over the years, that once you get moving in the rain, a vortex is created in the cabin and despite having a roof, all the water gets sucked into the car via the big open space where a rear window should be covering everything in the car, including the inside of the windscreen, in water.
Inevitably, the cling film lasted about three minutes and by the time I'd made it onto the M20 towards Dover, I was already completely soaked! With water coming in from behind and well as under the windscreen seal and the under the doors too, just to make sure everything was wet through!! I made sure I bought a waterproof Nurburgring coat once in Germany ready for the return trip in a few days time!!
Anyway, apart from the water ingress, the Caterham proved quite comfortable for the trip and I really enjoyed that DVA tuned engine, screaming through its titanium exhaust all the way to 8000rpm, its fantastic.
Anyway, all three cars (my Caterham Supersport, Big Gazza's E36 M3 Evo and Bobby's R32 GTR) made it to the Gasthaus Weber, our usual haunt for these weekends, with no issues and the main part of the weekend begun!
Lost of piss taking along with lots of Bitburger drinking, steak and chips and laughs was had, as well as new personal best BTG time (we check when we watch our videos back in the evenings rather than time whilst on track) for me of 8m18s meaning I keep my 'fastest in the group' accolade, Big Gazza and Bobby also both got their best times of 8m22s for Bobby and the GTR, just 4 seconds off the pace of the car with less than a third of the power ;-) ( Comparison video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuxeFmixBVE ) and around 8m50s for Gazza and the M3.
As usual, there has to be some ailments for the cars, nothing major for mine, I ended up having to get a new exhaust bracket fabricated, Gazza ended up having to get his rear subframe welded back together and on the way home, Bobby's gearbox gave up. Took three lorry rides to get it home!
Another eventful trip to the 'Ring over.......