The fastest cars around the Nurburgring in 2019

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Germany’s notorious Nurburgring circuit is the most popular arena for performance cars to prove their credentials. From supercars to four-door saloons, hot hatchbacks and even SUVs, there aren’t many ‘hot’ cars that escape a lap of the Green Hell.

Here are the latest 2019 ’Ring kings… followed by a full list of the 30 fastest road cars around the Nurburgring.

Lynk & Co. 03 Cyan concept – 7:15

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

This record-holder has taken two titles at once, while also being the first Chinese car to set a lap record. The Lynk & Co. 03 Cyan concept is officially the fastest front-wheel-drive car around the Nordschleife.

Strictly speaking, it is a concept, but with a highly respectable time of 7:15.1, it simply can’t be ignored. It’s a full 25 seconds faster than the new Renault Megane Trophy-R, and that’s hardly a slouch. Then again, it does pack a 528hp punch.

Lynk & Co. 03 Cyan concept – 7:15

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

That time of 07:15.1 puts the Lynk & Co. within spitting distance of many modern supercars. It’s the product of the race team formerly known as Polestar, which runs a World Touring Car campaign.

Renault Sport Megane Trophy-R – 7:40

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

The front-drive class at the Ring hasn’t let up in these past few years, despite what that Cyan record might lead you to believe. The new Megane Trophy-R has carbon fibre wheels and ceramic brakes – upgrades often the preserve of track-focused supercars.

It’s not cheap, though, at £72,140 for a ’Ring-spec car. This is the fastest front-driver you can actually buy.

Porsche Taycan – 7:42

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

This is an important record for Porsche. What better way to prove the performance of your new EV than sending it around the Green Hell? A time of 7:42 makes the Taycan the fastest electric four-door at the Nurburgring. We await the finished production car with bated breath.

But what are the times they have to beat? Here are the ultimate Nurburgring lap record holders to date.

Fastest cars around the Nurburgring

  1. Porsche 911 991 GT2 RS MR – 6:40
  2. McLaren P1 LM – 6:43
  3. Lamborghini Aventador SVJ – 6:44
  4. Nio EP9 – 6:45
  5. Porsche 911 GT2 RS – 6:47
  6. Radical SR8 LM – 6:48
  7. Lamborghini Huracan Performante – 6:52
  8. Porsche 911 GT3 RS – 6:56
  9. Porsche 918 Spyder – 6:57
  10. Lamborghini Aventador SVJ – 6:59

Now, let’s celebrate the top 30 fastest road cars round the Nurburgring, from the Ferrari Enzo to the Porsche 911 GT2 MR…

30. Ferrari Enzo – 7:25.7

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

In the name of the father: the Enzo took to the Nurburgring to fight the corner of the Scuderia alongside the Pagani Zonda, Maserati MC12 and Porsche Carrera GT. It didn’t fare too well alongside its fellow Italians, but gave the interloping German hypercar a bloody nose.

29. Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series – 7:25.6

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

If big wings, canards and blistered wheelarches aren’t a recipe for Nurburgring success, we don’t know what is. Along with a serious chassis set-up and sticky tyres, they helped AMG blast its hopped-up SLS to an Enzo-beating time in 2013.

28. Mercedes AMG GT 4-Door – 7:25.4

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Illustrating how far cars have come, this series production luxury saloon, which weighs more than two tonnes, can challenge yesterday’s hypercars – and even beat some of them. It’s also faster than AMG’s best from five years ago. Still, four-wheel drive, rear-wheel steering and well over 600hp must help towards that.

27. Pagani Zonda F Clubsport – 7:24.4

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Ah, the Zonda. Before getting 700hp and some questionable modifications, it was at the forefront of the Nurburgring wars of the mid-2000s. Engineering may have moved on, but that design is timeless.

26. Maserati MC12 – 7:24.3

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

The MC12 is a bit of a museum piece these days, but it’s still ruinously fast. A single-clutch gearbox and no electric motor assistance mean it’s no longer at the cutting edge. Nonetheless, a carbon fibre chassis and a 600hp-plus V12 mean it laps the Nürburgring rather briskly.

25. Chevrolet Corvette C6 Z06 – 7:22

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Like the forthcoming ZR1, the Z06 here is the last-generation C6 Corvette. Given that it’s only three seconds slower than the former car, with a 7.0-litre non-supercharged V8 making ‘only’ 505hp, we want to know what the extra power is doing in the other ’Vette? Shredding tyres, probably.

24. Jaguar XE SV Project 8 – 7:21

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Jaguar’s no-expense-spared skunkworks special has performance to back up its aesthetic bravado. Not only is it the second fastest four-door saloon around the Nurburgring, and the fastest production saloon, it’s also in the top 30 fastest cars ever at the Nordschleife.

23. Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 – 7:19

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Here’s that aforementioned tyre-shredder. The Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 uses a monster 640hp supercharged 6.2-litre V8. Ripping around the ’Ring in a time of seven minutes 19.63 seconds, we’d hate to think how much that would cost in fuel.

22. Porsche 911 GT2 RS (997) – 7:18

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

It’s a braver man than any of us who points the low-slung snout of a 911 GT2 RS out onto the Nürburgring for a maximum attack lap. This 997 version packs two turbos delivering a whopping 620hp and 516lb ft of torque, plus semi-slick tyres and no traction control.

21. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE – 7:16

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Nurburgring times have come a long way in the past few years. Witness the fact that a Camaro has lapped the Nordschleife quicker than a top-level 911 from eight years ago. The Camaro ZL1 1LE is a 650hp be-winged track weapon – and an incredible culture clash.

20. Lynk & Co. 03 Cyan concept – 07:15

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Yes, the Cyan is officially well within the top 30 fastest cars around the Nurburgring. And it’s front-wheel drive.

19. Donkervoort D8 RS – 7:14.8

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Think of the Donkervoort D8 RS as a futuristic Caterham with a ballistic Audi engine. Lots of power and very little weight mean it can lap the ’Ring in a time just shy of a bona fide supercar like the Lexus LFA.

18. Lexus LFA Nurburgring Package – 7:14.6

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

The clue to this Lexus LFA’s stellar Nurburgring performance lies in its name. Special mods gave the standard LFA 10hp more, so its 4.8-litre V10 now shrieked out 571hp. A recalibrated gearbox, aero improvements (thanks to a new front splitter, flicks on the front bumper and gigantic rear wing), and stiffer, more adjustable suspension helped achieve the time. The orange paint is just cool.

17. Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (C7) – 7:13

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Another hero of the mid- to late-2000s American attack on the ’Ring. The old Z06, Viper ACR and subsequent Corvettes proved their performance. Expectations were high, therefore, for the new Z06. This blue-collar supercharged hero bested the all-carbon V10-powered LFA Nurburgring of a few years earlier.

16. Porsche 911 991.2 GT3 – 7:12

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

The 991 911 is perhaps the best Nurburgring bang for your buck. This, the updated GT3, put in a majorly impressive effort. Still nearly 20 seconds slower than the RS, mind…

15. Gumpert Apollo Sport – 7:11

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Gumpert might not have the most exotic name, but the Apollo Sport is certainly quick. With 700hp from its twin-turbo Audi V8 (there’s an 800hp version, too), the Apollo Sport embarrassed non-hybrid Porsches, Ferraris, McLarens and Lamborghinis. We wonder how quick the new Apollo IE would be.

14. Mercedes-AMG GT R – 7:10

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

This was a private effort, but it’d be wrong to not include a car with a paint colour called ‘Green Hell’ on the options list. Germany’s Sport Auto magazine conducted the lap on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres, to an impressive but not record-breaking seven minute 10 second time.

13. Nissan GT-R Nismo – 7:08

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Nissan has been embroiled in a battle with Porsche for Nurburgring supremacy since the GT-R first emerged back in 2007. In the hands of driver Michael Krumm, its hardcore Nismo variant scorched to a lap time of seven minutes 8.69 seconds. We reckon the latest version, which has turbos from the racer and new wheelarch vents, could go even quicker.

12. Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro – 7:04

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Merc’s ‘Beast of the Green Hell’ got a selection of aero and chassis upgrades with this Pro package. That saved it a decent chunk of time, and got it ahead of the other GT-R from Japan.

11. Dodge Viper ACR (2017) – 7:01

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

The 2008 Viper ACR was one of the original ’Ring heroes. This brutal lump of American iron cemented itself as a serious contender by dominating the Green Hell. No pressure on the 2017 car, then, which was rumoured to be a contender for the record. Sadly, it never happened, with the Viper ACR failing to break seven minutes. All that said, it remains the fastest car around the circuit with a manual gearbox.

10. Lamborghini Aventador SV – 6:59

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Before the SVJ came the SV, with revised damping, lower weight and some serious aero. All that, some extra power and stickier tyres helped the SV become the second car (after the Porsche 918 Spyder), to break the seven-minute barrier. Impressive at the time, but plenty have topped it now.

9. Porsche 918 Spyder – 6:57

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Porsche works racing driver Marc Lieb was tasked with extracting the maximum from the firm’s 887hp hybrid hypercar. He did so brilliantly, setting a lap time of six minutes and 57 seconds. With Ferrari and McLaren not publishing times for the LaFerrari and P1, the Porsche is officially the quickest of the ‘big three’.

8. Porsche 911 GT3 RS (991.2) – 6:56

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Not five years after Porsche’s hypercar owned the Nurburgring, its flagship 911 goes and beats it. Who needs nearly 1,000hp, all-wheel drive and instant electric power? Equipped with the lightweight Weissach package, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tyres and a 500hp free-breathing flat-six, the new RS did the business a second quicker.

7. Lamborghini Huracan Performante – 6:52

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

A year before the GT2 fought back, the Huracan Performante put its active aerodynamics to the test for a scarcely believable 6:52 lap. In 2016, the thought of this relatively conventional supercar beating out the ultra-sophisticated Porsche 918 Spyder for ’Ring supremacy didn’t fly so well. We think weight is the key factor.

6. Radical SR8 LM – 6:48

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

When people say “it’s a racing car with number plates”, generally that’s not strictly accurate. This actually is. Radicals genuinely race in this spec, minus headlights and those all-important number plates. Michael Vergers drove the SR8 LM around the Nurburgring on street-legal tyres for a time of six minutes and 48 seconds. That’s pretty epic, particularly as it was achieved way back in 2009

5. Porsche 911 GT2 RS (991) – 6:47

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

The current GT2 RS is a fitting run-out model for the 991. Its incredible performance at the Nürburgring cements it as one of Porsche’s greats. Given the GT2 name’s reputation for spikiness in the past, it’s quite an achievement to create such a well-rounded 700hp-plus 911.

4. NIO EP9 – 6:45

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Every so often there’s a paradigm shift in car performance and, even more rarely, the industry as a whole. Electric cars are proliferating exponentially and the king of them made a big splash at the ’Ring. The NIO EP9 is an upstart electric hypercar that obliterated the Nordschleife with a 6:45 lap time. That’s just five seconds off the new MR GT2 RS record. Expect more electric hypercars to silently dominate the circuit in the coming years.

3. Lamborghini Aventador SVJ – 6:44

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

The biggest and baddest of the current raging bulls didn’t have a lot of time atop the Nurburgring throne. Nevertheless, as a proof of how far the Aventador SVJ has come, its 6:44 time is undeniably incredible. Compare that to the original LP700’s time of 7:25 set by Sport Auto. Yes, that’s 40 seconds slower.

2. McLaren P1 LM – 6:43

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Lanzante’s ultimate road-legal P1 GTR is a homage to the five-off special McLaren F1 LM of the mid-1990s, intended to celebrate the five finishers at the 1995 Le Mans 24-hour race. The P1 LM features power and aero upgrades, but removes racing features like the air jack. It’s fully road-legal and all five were sold, so we think its 6:43 ’Ring time stands. Incredible stuff from an incredible car, but not quite up to a suitably tweaked GT2 RS…

1. Porsche 991 GT2 RS MR – 6:40

Nurburgring fastest cars 2019

Perhaps a tuned version of a car doesn’t count. Technically speaking, though, the Manthey Racing-fettled GT2 RS is road-legal. Not to mention that Porsche has a 51 percent stake in the Nürburgring-based company.

Jaguar XE SV Project 8 at the Nurburgring

Jaguar breaks own Nürburgring record with XE SV Project 8

Jaguar sets another new Nurburgring recordJaguar has cemented the position of the XE SV Project 8 as the fastest production saloon car to lap the German Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit.

The 600 horsepower four-door managed to improve on the existing record, previously set by Jaguar in 2017, by some 2.9 seconds. 

With a time of seven minutes 18.361 seconds to complete the 20.6 km (12.8 mile) circuit, the supercharged V8 XE SV is now rubbing shoulders with serious hardcore machinery.

Maximum track attack

Jaguar sets another new Nurburgring recordHelping the XE SV go even quicker than before was the use of a car fitted with the special ‘Track Pack’ two-seater configuration. Choosing this removes 12.2 kg (27 pounds) from the weight of the Project 8, and installs a purposeful pair of bucket seats up front. 

Jaguar also set the height-adjustable coilover suspension to ‘track’ mode, and – sensibly – ensured the front splitter and giant rear wing were set for maximum downforce. 

Topping off the adjustments was the fitment of ultra-high performance Michelin rubber. The brand-new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Rs are street legal, but feature competition-grade construction and compounds. 

Back once again for the ‘Ring master

Jaguar sets another new Nurburgring recordIn charge of tackling the demanding 154 corners of the Nürburgring Nordschleife was Jaguar development driver, and former BTCC racer, Vincent Radermecker. 

Responsible for setting the XE SV’s original record-breaking ‘Ring time in 2017, Radermecker has also recorded a lap record at the French Circuit Clermont-Ferrand with Jaguar. 

The Belgian driver has been instrumental in helping develop the performance of the Project 8, meaning he should certainly have been comfortable with the saloon’s potential 200 mph top speed.

Racing against the clock

Jaguar sets another new Nurburgring recordImproving on the Nürburgring Nordschleife time is just the latest in a series of on-track achievements for the XE SV Project 8. Lap records have also been broken at Laguna Seca in California, along with at the Dubai Autodrome.

Production of the limited-edition Project 8 is planned to finish later this year, with Jaguar recently launching a slightly subtler Touring version. 

Jamal Hameedi, Engineering Director, Jaguar Special Vehicle Operations, was clearly happy with the improved record set by the powerful production saloon. 

Speaking about the new lap time, Hameedi commented: “The original Nürburgring time set by Jaguar XE SV Project 8 demonstrated the extreme performance envelope of the world’s fastest production sedan, but the SV team is driven by a motorsport mentality and we knew Project 8 could go even faster.

“This new official record time is a fitting reward for everyone who has played a part in pushing the boundaries for our customers with Project 8.”

Sabine Schmitz Skoda Kodiaq vRS

Top Gear’s Sabine drives the Nürburgring… in a Skoda SUV

Sabine Schmitz Skoda Kodiaq vRSNobody knows the Nürburgring quite like Sabine Schmitz, but a Skoda SUV is an unlikely choice of wheels for a record-breaking lap of the ‘Green Hell’.

The flagship Skoda Kodiaq vRS will make its public debut at the 2018 Paris Motor Show, but no new performance car is complete without a lap of the Nürburgring to its name. We’ll have to wait a couple of days before the full video is revealed, but – spoiler alert – Skoda claims that it’s a “sensational record-breaking lap”.

We suspect Skoda is chasing the lap record for a seven-seat SUV, rather than the 7 minute 51.7 second set by the Alfa Romeo Stelvio last year. Alfa’s reign at the top of the fastest SUV lap board might be short-lived, as Lamborghini is likely to send the Urus on a tour of the 12.9-mile circuit this summer.

Alternatively, maybe the Czech company is gunning for the fastest lap… by a Skoda.

Lap time to be revealed on 14 June

This teaser video reveals the preparations that went into the camouflaged Kodiaq vRS’ record attempt at the Nordschleife, with the full video revealed on 14 June.

The Skoda Kodiaq vRS is expected to be a powered by a 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel engine developing around 240hp and 369lb ft of torque. To cope with all that power, the vRS is likely to be offered in four-wheel drive form, with five- and seven-seat versions available.

Speaking of seats, we rather like the look of the high-backed bucket-style chairs Sabine’s showing off in Skoda’s teaser image. 

The performance Kodiaq will be sold alongside the Octavia vRS, with the UK expected to be a lucrative market for the hot SUV. Around 1 in 5 of all Octavias sold in the UK leave the factory with a vRS badge, with diesel versions accounting for the majority of sales.

Prices are likely to be revealed in Paris, but with a seven-seat Kodiaq Sportline costing upwards of £33,135. we wouldn’t expect much change from £35,000. More news, including the full lap of the Nürburgring, when we get it.

Koenigsegg Nürburgring One:1 incident – the aftermath

Koenigsegg: ABS fault caused high-speed Nürburgring crash

Koenigsegg Nürburgring One:1 incident – the aftermathKoenigsegg has revealed a fault with a front ABS wheel sensor was the cause of its severe high-speed smash at the Nürburgring on Monday 18 July – but the Swedish supercar company has said it WILL return to the Nordschleife to go lap record-chasing.

More car news on Motoring Research

Because the ABS system was faulty, the Koenigsegg One:1 hypercar locked its front brakes at 170km/h (105mph) going into the tricky Fuchsrohre section, revealed Koenigsegg: its data shows the car hit a fence at 110km/h and was launched into the air for 22 metres.

The car turned 180 degrees, landed on its left rear wheel and pivoted to finally land parallel to the fence.

A small fire followed in the rear section, but this was traced to the carbonfibre bodywork making contact with the hot exhausts: the fuel shut-off system worked as it should, as did the airbags and other safety systems.

ABS alert

So why wasn’t the unnamed driver aware of the fault? Koenigsegg says that a warning light was glowing to say there was a fault with the ABS system – but as it’s a small light located in the centre of the dash, the helmet-clad driver didn’t spot it.

To be honest, they were probably concentrated on other things.

They also wouldn’t have noticed any difference in brake pedal feel – until they activated the ABS. The Fuchsrohre section is one of the first sections on the Nordschleife where ABS is activated…

Koenigsegg engineers took time out at the Swedish factory on Wednesday 20 July trying to replicate the fault: they disconnected the front left wheel ABS sensor and braked hard from high speed. The behaviour of the car exactly matched that of the Nürburgring crash.

Koenigsegg now has the crashed One:1 back in the workshop at its HQ, and today has released an image of the disassembled car. As you can see, it’s stood up to the high-speed crash well, and even both doors could be opened and closed cleanly.

‘We will be back’

The crash hasn’t put Koenigsegg off chasing a new record Nürburgring time either, but the company says it will take some time out to rebuild the car and roll out technical updates that will be fitted to customer cars too.

“Will we be back this year? That is… hard to say at this point, but we won’t say a definite ‘no’.”

Oh, and how is the driver? Fine. He went to hospital for precautionary tests, but was released later the same afternoon. Koenigsegg even thanked him for putting out the fire straight after the incident.

Fastest hot hatches

The 10 fastest hot hatches around the Nurburgring

Fastest hot hatcheshe Nurburgring is the world’s most notorious racetrack. Its 13 miles of tortuously twisty tarmac serve as a proving ground for new cars – with manufacturers competing to set the lowest lap times.

As Volkswagen launches its new track-oriented new Golf Clubsport S, we’re celebrating the 10 fastest hot hatchbacks ever to lap the Nurburgring. Let the countdown commence…

Fastest hot hatches10. Volkswagen Golf R32 

Lap time: 8min 53.0sec

Golf GTI not fast enough? In 2003, Volkswagen launched the 240hp Golf R32, with the 250hp Mk5 version seen here following in 2005. It boasted a 3.2-litre VR6 engine and four-wheel drive.

Lapping the Nurburgring in less than nine minutes is no mean feat for a car as comfortable and family-focused as the Golf R32. Interestingly, the car was actually faster to 62mph (6.2sec) when fitted with Volkswagen’s DSG semi-automatic gearbox.

Fastest hot hatches9. Vauxhall Astra VXR Nurburgring

Lap time: 8min 35.0sec

A dedicated Nurburgring special edition? Yep, and Vauxhall built 835 of them to celebrate the car’s 8min 35sec lap time. A Corsa VXR Nurburgring followed in 2011.

For £1,500 more than the standard VXR, you got an extra 15hp, a Remus exhaust, white alloy wheels and lots of stickers. Alternatively, replicate the look yourself with one of those two-quid Nurburgring stickers off eBay…

Fastest hot hatches8. Ford Focus ST (2005)

Lap time: 8min 35.0sec

Fast and (usually) orange, the original Focus ST matched the 8min 35sec time of its arch-rival Astra. Its 225hp five-cylinder engine came from Volvo and is famously thirsty when driven hard.

Today, you can buy estate and diesel versions of the ST, but the 2005 original remains our favourite. Like many fast Fords, it’s a bit rough around the edges, but it’s more characterful than a contemporary Golf GTI.

Fastest hot hatches7. Ford Focus RS

Lap time: 8min 26.0sec

Brightly-coloured fast Fords, you say? Meet the daddy. The Mk2 Focus RS is a modern classic, with in-yer-face styling and a mighty 305hp turbocharged four-pot.

Ford hasn’t attempted the ’Ring in the latest (Mk3) Focus RS yet. However, with 350hp, it’s likely to be even quicker. We reckon the Ultimate Green paint seen here is worth a least 10 seconds off the lap time….

Fastest hot hatches6. Renault Megane RS R26.R

Lap time: 8min 16.90sec

Meet the first in a string of ever-faster Renault Meganes competing for top honours at the Nurburgring. The R26.R was the most extreme version of the ‘shaking that ass’ Mk2 Megane. Only 450 were made.

This isn’t your typical hot hatchback. The stripped-out R26.R has no rear seats, passenger airbags or radio. Crucially, it came shod with super-sticky Michelin or Toyo tyres, which were biased for track (and dry weather) use.

Fastest hot hatches5. Renault Megane RS Trophy

Lap time: 8min 7.97sec

Another Megane, this time the – even faster – third-generation car. The limited-edition RS Trophy boasted 265hp and a top speed of nearly 160mph. Heady stuff for a hot hatch.

More impressive, though, was the Trophy’s ability to go around corners. It lapped the Nurburgring in 8min 7.97sec – without resorting to the extreme weight-loss measures of its R26.R predecessor.

Fastest hot hatches4. SEAT Leon Cupra

Lap time: 7min 58.4sec

Spanish carmaker SEAT is known for breaking ’Ring records – its Leon ST Cupra 280 is currently the fastest estate to lap the track. The hatchback Cupra can’t make that claim, but it still edges under eight minutes.

The record-breaking (at the time) Leon was fitted with beefed-up Brembo brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres – both available as part of SEAT’s Performance Pack option. The Cupra has since gained an extra 10hp, potentially making it even quicker.

Fastest hot hatches3. Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy-R

Lap time: 7min 54.36sec

Our third Megane – and the fastest to date – is the RS 275 Trophy-R. The car was developed in response to SEAT breaking the front-wheel-drive record with the Leon Cupra 280, and it succeeded in taking the title back.

The 2014 Trophy-R was a serious performance machine with race-style Ohlins dampers, bigger front brakes and polycarbonate Recaro seats. With no air conditioning or radio, it’s more suited to track days than trips to Tesco.

Fastest hot hatches2. Honda Civic Type R

Lap time: 7min 50.63sec

As a statement of intent, launching a new hot hatch by setting a 7min 50.63sec Nurburgring lap time takes some beating. The bodykitted Civic really is as fast as its furious styling suggests.

Honda set its lap time with a car ‘in a standard state of tune’. However, it did admit removing ‘equipment such as air conditioning, the front passenger seat and audio equipment’ in order to ‘offset the additional weight of a full roll cage (installed specifically for safety reasons and not to add rigidity)’.

Fastest hot hatches1. Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S

Lap time: 7min 49.21sec

That brings us to the current Nurburgring record-holder: the VW Golf GTI Clubsport S. Built to mark 40 years of the Golf GTI, the 310hp hatchback has been dubbed ‘the GT3 of GTIs’.

The Clubsport S is even quicker than the four-wheel-drive Golf R and only 400 will be made. Thank a strict weight-saving diet, including a smaller battery, less sound deadening and no rear seats. Hey, nobody said giant-killing hot hatches had to practical.

Honda Civic Type R Nurburgring record

Speed limits LIFTED on Nürburgring Nordschleife

Honda Civic Type R Nurburgring recordSafety speed limits on the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife will be lifted this weekend for the opening race of the VLN Endurance Championship, circuit bosses have revealed.

Following the implementation of seven safety measures throughout the circuit, installed after a fatal race accident in 2015, the FIA and German motorsport association DMSB have issued new restriction-free track licences for the 22km Nordschleife section.

This FIA Grade 3 licence will be valid for three years.

Upgrades to the Nürburgring course include extra FIA-standard fences and protection, an area in the Schwedenkreuz that’s now closed to spectators, plus the renewal of 500 metres of track in the Flugplatz and Quiddelbacher Höhe sections to smooth out the course and remove the bumps and undulations that could unsettle high-speed racing cars.

“With these safety measures and the two new licences we have created the prerequisites for an exciting racing season that will hopefully see no accidents,” said Nürburgring event management boss Manfred Strack.

“We are glad that the speed limits are finally a thing of the past.”

So too will car manufacturers be pleased: now the circuit is once again fully licenced and free from speed restrictions, the war of the Nürburgring lap time will be able to resume once again…


Nürburgring speed limits to be lifted for 2016

NordschleifeNürburgring circuit bosses have announced speed limits are “to become a thing of the past as of 2016” thanks to circuit upgrade work set to commence in November 2015.

The ‘safety on the Nordschleife’ round table has already presented the planned changes to the German motorsport association DMSB, ADAC, the car industry, racing teams, race drivers and other interested bodies – “finding wide approval”.

The circuit will now thus include the planned changes as part of its application to renew its circuit approval with the FIA, which expires at the end of 2015.

Circuit owners capricorn Nürburgring GmbH say the changes will bring to an end the controversial speed limits that have been imposed at the Nordschelife circuit since a spectator was killed in an accident at the VLN Endurance Championship race in March.

Crucially, promise circuit bosses, “the unique character of the Nordschleife will be preserved”.

Nürburgring 2016 upgrades: in detail

“Safety on the Nordschleife during races, but also during test drives of the industry and during tourist ride sessions, is our highest priority,” said Carsten Schumacher, managing director of Nürburgring operator CNG.

His team have thus proposed 16 upgrades for the circuit, seven of which will be in place by the start of the 2016 season.

Upgrades include extra safety fences in several areas, plus a restricted zone in the Schwedenkreuz area (5km into a full lap of the Nordschleife).

FIA-grade safety fences will be installed in the Döttinger Höhe section, which runs parallel to a public road.

500 metres of track through the Flugplatz section will be renewed as well – “smoothing out five bumps which are the result of years of high utilisation and heavy use” said Schumacher.

The proposed changes will now be submitted by the German motorsport association to the FIA’s Circuit Commission for formal approval.

Honda Civic Type R Nurburgring record

Nürburgring lap time runs to return?

Honda Civic Type R Nurburgring recordNürburgring lap time record runs could be set to return if rumours that the 2015 safety-related speed limits could be lifted are true.

U.S. title Road and Track has been told by a “senior auto industry source” that Nürburgring owner Capricorn Nürburgring GmbH may soon announce the speed limit restrictions in several areas of the track are no more.

The fastest road cars at the Nürburgring – in pictures

Currently, car makers cannot run flat-out laps of the Nürburgring because of speed limits in several areas of the track:

  • 200km/h: Tiergarten, Fluglatz, Schwedenkreuz, Antoniusbuche
  • 250km/h: Doettinger Hoehe straight

The speed limits were imposed after a spectator was killed when the factor Nissan GT-R of Jann Mardenborough flipped at Flugplatz in March; they remained in place for the 2015 Nürburgring 24 Hour race.

We’ve reached out to Nürburgring officials for more news; we’ll keep you updated.

Porsche 918 Spyder Nurburgring

Nürburgring lap times BANNED by circuit bosses [UPDATED]

Porsche 918 Spyder NurburgringThe battle of the Nürburgring lap time may be over as news emerges that circuit chiefs have banned car manufacturers from undertaking timed lap record runs.

The news, first revealed by website Apex, is due to the imposition of safety-related speed limits in certain areas of the track.

The fastest road cars at theNürburgring – in pictures

These were set up following the death of a spectator after a crash earlier this year.

The Apex crew revealed they were contacted by circuit bosses this week informing them of the restrictions – just days before they were due to spend a week at the circuit filming a lap record attempt by the Koenigsegg One:1 hypercar.

“Official word from Nürburgring management is that these restrictions will be reviewed at the end of the year,”say Apex, “but for the time being, manufacturers like Koenigsegg are banned from attempting lap-time runs — even if they’ve rented out the entire track for themselves.”

We contacted the Nürburgring team for comment.Carsten Schumacher, CEO of capricorn NÜRBURGRING GmbH, said: “Following the tragic accident on 28 March 2015, the German motorsport association (DMSB) introduced speed limits for races at the Nürburgring.”

These were imposed, successfully, during the 2015 Nürburgring 24-hour race.

“capricorn NÜRBURGRING GmbH has decided to extend these speed limits to other activities on the Nordschleife, which is why record drives are currently not permitted on the Nürburgring Nordschleife”.

So there we are: it seems our list of Nürburgring fastest lap times is set in stone until at least the end of the year.

But will the Radical SR8 LM now be the fastest road car around the Nürburgring for ever more? And will the Honda Civic Type R be the fastest hot hatch? Speaking of which, let’s enjoy the Civic’s record-run video one more time…

N24 MR Aston Martin 003

Nürburgring 24 Hours 2015: live blog

N24 MR Aston Martin 003I’d say the Nürburgring 24 Hours is motor racing’s biggest undiscovered secret, but, given how there are umpteen hundred thousand people right now pouring into the Ring with three things on their mind – racing, beer and Frankfurters – I’d perhaps not technically be quite right.

Simply take it from me then: N24 is awesome. And in this live blog, I hope to show you why it’ll be worth the five-hour drive from Calais in 2016…

Sunday 17 May

22:30: It’s a wrap

So that was #N24h 2015. It suddenly got very busy for me in the final hours, so hopefully the links below sufficed, and helped you watch the #28 Audi beat the #25 BMW by 40 seconds, the closest N24 finish since 1970. So, the new R8 LMS wins on its race debut… bit ominous, that.

The Falken Porsche was third, Aston’s #007 car finished a fine 16th after an incident-packed race and, fittingly, Dr. Bez drove home the #49 car to a fine SP8 victory, 10 years after yellow ‘Rose’ it’s painted in tribute to first introduced Aston Martin to racing at the Nurburgring.

“Watching the Vantage N430 cross the line in the same livery that Rose had ten years ago is something quite special,” said AMR Head of Motorsport David King. “We’ve come such a long way with our motorsport programme at the Nürburgring in the last ten years and we’ve fought some really tough battles here.”

But already Aston’s attention is turning to Le Mans, on 13/14 June, where it’s entering another five GTE cars.

My attention? On wrapping up N24, which is something I’ll do after I’ve caught a bit of kip. It’s been in short supply this weekend but after such a breathless, brilliant race, I don’t mind one bit.

Oh, and I’m already making plans to be there next year. You?

14:10: Photo diary

N24 2015

See Castle Nuburg in the distance? I jogged up to the top earlier…

N24 2015

The best photography spots, Ring-style

N24 2015

Scooter parking? Follow the bear, mate

N24 2015

Audi’s sleek and expensively-developed new R8 LMS, currently causing all the other teams a few headaches. Seems quick straight out the box…

14:07: And the leader now is..?

13:50: Having trouble keeping up with the leader? You’re not alone…

13:49: Speed limits? Don’t foul the code 60…

12:34: Falken Porsche’s secret pit stop edge

12:28: Updates

10:44: Aston recovery drive

Some context for the Aston #007 recovery: it lost an hour because of the slip-tangle on oil (it ended up half-resting on the barrier, and needed recovery back to the pits). Following repairs, it emerged well down – but is now charging and getting back into the top 20 is a real achievement.

Expect them to grab some more places before the end of the race, too…

10:32: Update

Aston back in the top 20, Bentley still in the top 10, and it’s still super-close between the all-new Audi R8 LMS (on its 24 hour race debut!) and the BMW Z4 GT3. For by-the-second timing, check out

Oh, and if you want #N24h 2015 race stats, look no further.

10:20: Audi Sport, we think the same…

09:33: But on the plus side, Aston Martin Racing fans…

09:26: Bad news, Aston Martin Racing fans

In short order, the #006 Aston has had to retire due to driveline issues, and the #50 car that was way ahead in the lead of SP8 has also been forced out after a shunt by Andreas Guelden left the car too badly damaged to continue.

There are no words, really. I think Chris Harris summed it up rather well (no embed as, understandably, it’s a bit sweary!).

07:13: #N24h: like no other race

07:06: #007 Aston action…

06:52: And the Audis?

Tough night for Audi’s swish new R8 LMS; both Phoenix Racing #001 and #004 cars crashed during the night (one of them hitting the #007 Aston along the way, it seems). So it’s now down to the #28 car, currently in third (but actually still trading for the lead; we’re currently in a pitstop run).

It was a particular surprise for the #001 car to crash, at Pflanzgarten, at around 01:30, as Audi Sport was dominating up to that point. It was a big crash too, involving a barrel roll for driver Christian Mamerow and a subsequent hospital visit for a check-up (he’s OK).

It’s left the BMW Z4 GT3 and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG to dominate the upper places, along with the Falken Porsche of Peter Dumbreck and crew, plus that #006 Aston.

Want a more detailed overnight update? Head over to – and for live updates via twitter, check out @dscracelive.

06:41: But what about the Astons?

AMR update: the #006 Vantage GT3 is still in the top 10, but what about the #007? Well, about two hours ago, Stefan Mucke had an off due to oil on the track. He got it back to the pits for repairs, and was out again in less than half an hour, but the car is now down in 25th, currently on 85 laps compared to the race leader’s 92. Still fighting though!

In SP8, meanwhile, Chris Harris’ GT12 continues to lead the class – and is actually a place ahead of the #007 car on track. They’ve a little way to go before they match 2008’s best-ever SP8 finish of 18th; maybe a bit of attrition will help them along. Either way, they’re well ahead of the next runner in SP8 – and that’s actually an Aston too, the #49 car of Dr. Bez and his team.

06:40: #N24h update, by the pole-sitters

06:25: Hardy souls

In the pits, there’s barely a spectator to be seen.

N24 2015

On the grandstands, though, a few hardy souls remain. Or, like me, got up pre-sunrise for an #N24h equivalent of an Ibiza moment. Either way, we all thought it was quite special as we sat there quite still, watching race cars, trying to stay warm, trying not to knock over the beer bottles littered everywhere or accidentally tred in half-eaten boxes of chips and mayo.

N24 2015

06:18: Foxy

Discovery of the day already: the Opel Manta foxtail is on Twitter!

Clever foxtail. Maybe I should’ve interviewed it yesterday.

N24 2015

06:07: Media centre

N24 2015

For the past couple of hours, after a bit of kip, I’ve been up and exploring. Early doors is my favourite bit of a 24 hour race. In the deserted still of the morning, the contrast of full-bore racing cars still charging hard is vivid; they’ve already been going non-stop for half a day and it’s now you really get a sense of the endurance they go through.

Later on in the day, it’s sometimes easy to forget they’ve been doing this for coming up to a day; not now, where it seems more than special that they’re all able to do what they do for so long.

Me, I’m warming up again and have found coffee, so I’m OK.

00:06: @CoddersF1

Excellent early #N24 roundup by Stuart Codling. Says it all perfectly.

23:46: Mystery solved

That mysterious #30 Porsche incident I mentioned earlier? Well…

23:44: Blimey, Bentley – top work! 

23:36: I Can’t Dance

Walked back through the pits; there are few more evocative places at night. Lights blazing a warm yellow glow, activity intermittently frenzied and umpteen people standing about with a cheeky fag, I could mill around there all night. Easy for me to say: I don’t have the stress of either engineering a race car or gearing up to drive it.

Or, it seems, worry about where the next beer’s coming from. Yup, just behind the busy team trucks, it’s party time: some hospitality trucks even boast dance floors and celeb bars (I’m not kidding), although the dancing I’ve just seen going on in one of them is going to be burned onto my brain for a long time. It was… of the drunk dad at a wedding who thinks he’s actually at Pasha, and half his age, and David Gandy, and full of rhythm and soul level. It wasn’t pretty.

23:31: Rain shenanigans

Looks like rain over in sector 4 is causing all sorts of headaches. There are cars going in there on the timing screens and not emerging until 90 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes later than they should. Some, such as the #90 Porsche, don’t emerge at all. The epicentre appears to be the Karussel. Sadly, there’s a lack of live coverage when it’s dark – it’s expensive to light up nearly 25km of track and helicopters can’t see in the dark.

Perhaps they should get some of those thermal sensors like they have on Police, Camera, Action!. Commentary by Alastair Stewart optional.

22:01: Armchair helicopter

One of the coolest links comes from – the #N24h live tracker. Radio Le Mans commentary on in the background, live tracker on the laptop and some Vodafone live TV on the smart TV, and you could be there…

21:57: Bentley boys done good

The #85 Bentley had a prang earlier and had to be towed back to the pits, teeth-pullingly slowly. Since then, it’s been in for repairs. More British heartache.

But, the Bentley boys don’t give in. Instead of packing up to get ready for home, they’ve been hard at work on the car – and the latest is that it’s been work worth doing…

20:55: Heartache

Brit Adam Christo was doing brilliantly in the #002 Merc SLS-AMG… until his rear wheel worked loose and fell off. Quick as a flash, Adam jumped out, picked up the wheel and dived into the passenger footwell to retrieve the jack and wheel brace.

By now, marshalls were on hand and they initially tried to lift the car to help get him on his way. Then, reality dawned… Adam’s head sunk back… realisation came, that it was not a trackside fix. It was painful to watch. PR star Rebecca Jones summed it up well.

20:35: You want live timing? You’ve got it…

Check out’s detail-tastic #N24h page.

20:22: Tyreing stuff

Insight from Aston’s Mel earlier, who was chatting to the racers yesterday. The big challenge here, they said, is tyres: when they’re fresh, they’re on a knife-edge. When they’re worn, they’re on a knife-edge. When they’re in the zone, just the slightest stray off line will pick up marbles and introduce fearsome, filling-shaking vibrations into the car. And when you’ve so much traffic to deal with, you’re going off line a lot.

Imagine such a fine balance when you’re racing at 3am into the pitch-black darkness, with visibility further reduced by overnight mist, and with the sheer speed difference between a Clio and an Aston GT3 adding to the excitement. Yup, tyres matter. And those who can use them best – and abuse them the least – have a real advantage here at the Ring.

20:20: Evo boys have it sorted

20:05: Racers watching racers

Are you watching in the UK? Jann Mardenborough is!

19:55: AMR lounge

Some charging around the circuit has left me rather chilly and very satisfied. You can’t beat seeing racing cars live: hearing them, smelling them, even just feeling them as they thunder past.

The Aston #006 and #007s took my ear first; a surprisingly epic yowl from them, in contrast to the menacing rumble from the Bentleys (and you thought the Merc-AMG SLS were deep…). So happy were my ears, my fingers tweeted. AMR Official responded…

And the beauty of driving over meant I was able to pack my big coat, so can rock into the forest later in cheery warmth. Result!

18:35: Media centre

Top tip: want to watch the race live? Head here. Cheers, Vodafone.

18:30: Media centre

Radio Le Mans doing a grand job as always – winning praise from racing champions no less!

18:20: Media centre

Nice work Chris!

17:45: AMR lounge

It’s raining. It’s all kicking off. Cars are going off. Game on.

This place is scary and challenging enough even in the dry: having driven it earlier, I honestly can’t imagine what it’s like in the rain.

It’s raining particularly on the long Dottinger-Hohe straight; it must be headed this way, on the start/finish straight, because it looks like winter up there.

This is why racing drivers are a different breed, John Hindhaugh just said. Hear, hear.

17:20: AMR lounge

What a first hour that was. Initially, the BMWs were running away with it, but then, within a lap, the Bentley had caught them and was bullying for the lead. The rest? Eight seconds back in a 16-car train back to 20th place, with 21-on not far behind that. Epic, uber-close stuff that had even the Radio Le Mans crew not quite believing the pace and closeness of it.

It all got a bit mixed up in the pitstops, and now the race is going to be a whole lot harder to follow. this is where you’ll need the commentary, and this is why I’ll be ducking back into AMR box 30 regularly throughout the night.

But now things are setting down for 22 and a half hours of action, I plan on going for a wander later on. I’ll just wait for darkness to roll in and might then grab a beer or two with the most vocal nearby crowd, and see where it takes me. What’s the worst that could happen?

16:00: The media centre

15:50: The media centre Best of luck wishes to the team from Dr. Palmer have just landed via Twitter: he’s been getting stuck into everything here since his arrival – a properly curious CEO. Good to see.

The race gets underway in 10 minutes’ time. I’m enjoying nuclear-speed wifi here at the media centre, but still might depart for the Aston Martin box. Why? Because Radio Le Mans is broadcasting live from there and I want John’s insight over the first hour or so of the race, to help me get up to speed for the night ahead. See you in a bit!

N24 2015

15:15: The media centre

Grid walk done. Like all things N24, it was huge, with a billion people and a thousand race cars. Took us a bit to get on, mind – one of the ladies wouldn’t let us on with our media passes. So we went to a different gate who waved us on without hesitation. Go figure.

I started at the back, to research cars I could race. Renaultsport Clio, maybe?

N24 2015

Or a Volkswagen Golf GTI?

N24 2015

This E36 BMW M3 was being driven by Brits. I’ve noted down their details and will drop them a line when I get back. (Saying that, I’ll also need to find out what grade of licence you need to race in the N24 – anyone know?)

N24 2015

Further up the grid, it was a bit like those images of Black Friday madness in the UK: people everywhere. Stealth-like, I took to the grass on the edge of the circuit and quickly made my way up to the front. Just in time for the grandstands to cheer the MarcVDS guys sitting on the armco to celebrate their pole position.

A little further back, David Richards was checking out the #007 Aston, and Pedro Lamy was giving it the once-over too. He’s a multiple winner here so must fancy a shot in the race.

N24 2015

Another tiny detail too. Know those concrete-looking Bilstein signs on the start/finish straight?

N24 2015

Don’t worry, they’re not actually concrete. Inbuilt damping’s guaranteed.

N24 2015

14:15: The hotel

I’m now properly shaky-hand thrilled. I’ve just driven a lap of the Nurburgring. And it was beyond-wildest-dreams cool. N24 2015 It was an Aston Martin special – somehow, they pulled a favour with their mates in race control and secured 32 road cars a chance to drive a lap of the full Nordschleife.

Led by Dr. Andy Palmer and Marek Reichman in the Vantage GT12, we waited for a little while at the end of Dottinger-Hohe and then, just like that, pulled onto the race track for a full-bore lap. N24 2015

Actually, I found out later, it wasn’t quite meant to be as full bore as we actually went: 40mph was, apparently, the advised limits. My passenger Mel later told me we hit three figures. But, hey, the guy in front of me was on it and I couldn’t let him get away, could I? Maybe the sub-nine minute lap I tweeted about could have been on…

The lap was in the V12VTE I drove across in, adding to the authenticity. And what was it like? With thousands of crowds, endless tents, race hoardings, advertising, barbecue smoke, air horns, flag-waving marshalls and even the speed control zone lights fully working, it was blinding. N24 2015

I came back delirious, mind totally made up: I have to race the N24 one day. To rock around at racing speeds for lap after lap would be heavenly – a challenge like no other, but a delightfully fulfilling one. More later, once I’ve calmed down.

Because right now, we’ve got to go and do something else amazing – the grid walk…

11:40: Media centre

Top 10 for Queen of the Ring Sabine Schmitz in a Chevy Cruze! Corking battle over three laps to get it: super result.

11:00: Media centre Watched the first WTCC race from the media centre. Instantly hooked. It was a blinding, blinding spectacle and I now want to start a campaign that encourages every form of circuit motorsport to race here. (Alan Gow, fancy a trip abroad for the BTCC boys?) N24 2015 Everyone in the media centre was glued to the screens because not only were cars racing on this most awesome of circuits, the track itself was also challenging the cars in ways no normal circuit could ever do. Undulations, bumps, a multitude of camper changes, constant direction changes – this was racing cars looking at times a little bit like rally cars, and it was spellbinding to watch. Some ultra-smooth circuits make racing cars look slow. The Nurburgring has made WTCC cars look like thoroughbreds, and their drivers look like heroes. Whoever had the idea, make sure your team carry you above their shoulders later on, cheering. It’s been one of motor racing’s best and most innovative ideas in years. The onboards were particularly compelling, showing cars moving about in a way you’ll never see on the circuit. It’s been the perfect showcase of just how hard these cars are to drive, and what sort of talent is needed to make them inch ahead of the rest. The race? A Citroen 1-2-3, with Jose Maria Lopez leading Sebastien Loeb and Yvan Muller, with the Honda battling hard behind them. Battling hard on the Nurburgring? Yup, that was as ace to watch as it sounds too. And if you missed it, you’re in luck! They’re doing it all again for another three-lap spectacular soon. Do whatever you can to catch it.

11:00: Media centre  Just met Jake from Team MarcVDS: his man Augusto Farfus is on pole for the N24, and so he’s rightly beaming. Get down to the grid walk and, if I can scrabble through the throngs, he’ll let me grab a quick word with him. I won’t ask him about his breakfast. I know that was good.

10:00: The pits

A saunter through the pits and, my god, there are a few sore heads. To be expected, someone told me last night: a lot of them have been here a week already, with the fortresses deep in the woods to show for it. Apparently, someone even has a swimming pool.

Rather impressively, there are a few people who are clearly still carrying on from the night before. It’s one way of preparing for a 24 hour race, I guess, although not one N24 polesitter Augusto Farfus would perhaps subscribe to: I saw him in the hotel this morning with his family, having the healthiest breakfast in the world after what was clearly a flawless night’s sleep. Let’s check back this time tomorrow to see who’s prep worked.

08:01: Hotel

I’m in my hotel room pulling a few things together. It’s been totally silent up to now: bang on the hour, a wall of sound exploded from the pits as a green light for gentlemen to start their engines illuminated.

And now? Silence again – it’s the WTCC cars lining up for what’s called a pre-grid, so they’re off on an out lap to be in place.

Another 15 minutes of silence, then…

08:10: Hotel

Nice evening with the ever-enthused Aston Martin crew last night. Over BBQ food (healthy tuna for the drivers, less healthy steak and burgers for everyone else), Aston’s genuine love for this race came through.

The firm first raced in the N24 in 2006, so this is its 10th time of competing. It’s never quite won it outright, but it remains a real ambition – “it won’t be easy, because the competition is huge,” said Dave from the comms team, “but we love the challenge and everyone works so hard for it”.

And although Aston lined up 12th and 13th (now 12th and 18th), the reality is that it’s as close as can be and, given how it’s 24 hours on the enormously tough Nürburgring, anything could happen…

Friday 15 May

22:30: Sleep

It’s everyone’s plan tonight: get some sleep now because we won’t be getting any tomorrow. It didn’t quite go to plan last year but I’m being clinical this year because tomorrow I’m hoping to do a few rather cool things before the race…

I’ve been chatting to Aston’s chief creative officer Marek Reichman. A few weeks back, he was racing in the Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone (he still has the cold to prove it). Done much racing before, I asked? As he told me about GT4s, historic racers, Formula Juniors like those Jim Clark used to drive, I judged that, yes, he’s done a little racing before.

Did you know, for almost every year since 1995, Reichman has driven at the Goodwood Revival? Add in the string of Ducatis – and the house he had designed with a living room to place a Ducati centre stage – to see that he’s not just someone who oversees the design of Aston Martin, but also thinks a little bit like us as he’s doing so. That’s good to know.

19:30: WTCC qualifying

Interesting – it seems the WTCC qualifying hour has been cut short due to an accident. Fastest time appears to be Citroen’s Jose-Mariz Lopez. Time? 8:37, or exactly half a minute slower than the SP9s…

18:30: N24 qualifying

N24 2015 The first part of qualifying for N24 took place earlier: the top 30 drivers from that session have just fought it out to decide the final grid (and, as a reward for them all, each will carry a blue flashing light on their rear side window for the race, branding them as ‘fastest of the fast’).

They don’t all go out for a defined session, F1-style. Rather, it’s F1 old-style: each car goes off at 10-second intervals, then has two flying laps to set a fast time.

A ballot was drawn to decide the first one out. The #007 Aston of Stefan Mucke was drawn, and so gently eased away. Why gently? Why, because this is Nürburgring: even an out lap is 16 miles long. He thus took 50% longer to complete it than the subsequent two laps.

I wasn’t excepting it to be as exciting as it was. But, because there are 30 closely-matched cars taking part, over two laps, with each split in five different sectors mattering, there was something going on all time for 40 minutes.

I don’t know how Radio Le Mans’ John Hindhaugh and his crew do it – thank goodness they were in the Aston Martin box next to us… N24-2015-05 In the end, the Astons were 12th and 13th, with Mucke top drop a further 5 places from 12th due to a practice penalty. Mucke did an 8:20; the fastest BMW Z4 did an 8:17. Just a few seconds split the top 15 cars. N24 2015 Just as impressive was the fact the fastest lap was only seven seconds slower than last year’s record set by Kevin Estre – despite the imposition of three speed-controlled safety zones (on the long Dottinger-Hohe straight, for example, cars are capped to 250km/h, or 155mph). Oh, and which driver got pole? The DTM’s Augusto Farfus…

Aston Martin Racing, meanwhile, is looking forward to storming up the order…

Plenty going on, then – and, as I type, plenty more besides: now it’s the WTCC world touring cars’ turn. They have an hour-long free-for-all, so come back a little later to find out what happens when you chuck BTCC-style touring cars at the full Nürburgring circuit…

16:00: The N24 classes

I’ve been swotting up on my classes. Because, in the N24, there are loads. Le Mans 24 Hours, with simple LMP1, LMP2 and GTs? Pah! The N24 seems to have a class for every entrant and, when there’s more than 400 of them, that means a lot of classes.

So, here’s an attempt at an explainer.

Overall, there are four key divisions – Specials, Series, Cup and Historics.

  • Specials: pure race cars, headed by GT3s, GT4s and specials. There are 10 specials classes – SP1 to SP8, plus SP8 for GT3s and SP10 for GT4s. As such, it’s the SP9 and SP10 cars that are the quickest of the field.
  • Series: relatively stock racing cars, as close to standard as a race car can be. There are six classes, listed V1 to V6 (with a VD diesel class too). These cars also usually race in the VLN series, whose organisers also run the N24. (A T in the name indicates the car is turbocharged – e.g. V2T for a VW Scirocco GT TSI)
  • Cup: for one-make race cars, again often taken from the VLN. This year, there are two Cup categories: Cup 1 is for Opel Astra OPC Cups (Vauxhall Astra VXR), Cup 5 is BMW M235i Racings.
  • Historics: for cars built in 1996 or before; there are four ‘H’ classes, dependent on engine size.

That’s it in a nutshell. Later, I’ll give you a few examples from the entry list – but can say all eyes from my hosts Aston Martin are on SP9 and SP8 – here’s what they’re entering:

  • Car 6: Aston Martin Racing SP9 Vantage GT3 (driven by Jonny Adam, Richie Stanaway and Matthias Lauda)
  • Car 7: Aston Martin Racing SP9 Vantage GT3 (driven by Stefan Mucke, Darren Turner and Pedro Lamy)
  • Car 48: Aston Martin Test Centre SP8 GT12 (driven by Liam Talbot, Dr. Florian Kamelger, Peter Cate and Wolfgang Schubauer)
  • Car 49: Aston Martin Test Centre SP8 Vantage V8 (driven by Dr. Ulrich Bez, Dr. Andreas Banziger, Mal Rose and Peter Leemhuis)
  • Car 50: Aston Martin Test Centre SP8 GT12 (driven by Chris Harris, Shinichi Katsura, Yamouchi Kazunori and Andreas Gulden)

N24 2015

1430h: prologue

I’ve made it. Early alarm call and cross-country rush, then leaping onto Eurotunnel with microseconds to spare, then straight on the road and… well, into a French service station for a tankful of bleifrei and some super octane coffee. Then it was on the road – E40, E42, wiggly bits in Germany – to the Nürburgring.

It was a sublime drive because the lords were smiling on me and encouraged Aston Martin to loan me a V12 Vantage S. My first proper ‘grand tour’ and I’m now yearning to do it again. Downsizing is fine but when you’ve got Europe to tackle, you generally want the muscle of a honking great V12.

It did 23mpg too – not bad, considering the Euro-spec speeds; I did it on a tankful and didn’t even need to drive in on fumes. The orange light wasn’t even on.

I came out with Aston last year and we stayed in the Dorint, right next to the track. I’m doing the same this year and it’s equally as amazing, particularly as every room around me seems to be filled with someone motor racing-ey. Brilliantly, the design is very period and, for added 1980s authenticity, it hums of fag smoke and there seem to be bars everywhere. I love it.