Lil’ Red does the Ring By Lisa Balsom
After having a great driving holiday in Germany a few years ago, we decided it would be a good idea to repeat the experience, but this time in “Lil’ Red”, my Cappo.
Due to the awful weather we and Europe were experiencing, we didn’t make any concrete plans as to what we would do apart from wanting to do some laps of the Nurburgring Nordschleife, visit Martin’s uncle’s grave in Cologne, and go somewhere pretty for a few days. So, armed with a huge map of Europe, and a reservations for SpeedFerries and one night in Bologne-Sur-Mer, off we went.
The drive down to Dover was uneventful which was a relief considering we didn’t know whether we would need water wings or not (do they do them for small cars?), and arrived at SpeedFerries dock with about 10 minutes to spare. Phew! We hopped on the Catamaran over to France, got some dinner and settled down in our box (anyone who’s stayed in a Formula 1 Motel or similar will understand) for a good night’s sleep.
Day 1, Raining.
We decided that rather than taking the most direct route to Nurburg, we would drive up the coast through Dunkirk and Flanders because the countryside is so nice with fantastically great driving roads. We did happen upon a giant German concrete gun emplacement that has been turned into a museum, which was very interesting, with a remarkable amount of items, but you can only stand the smell of mothballs for so long. Unfortunately, due to such diversions, the weather not being that great, and a Neuerburg / Nurburg map confusion, (yes, we have been here before) we arrived in the Nurburg area at about 11.00pm, hungry, tired and with nowhere to sleep. Luckily we did manage to find a lovely Hotel called Kalenborner Hoele who took pity on us and let us have a room.
Day 2, Raining.
We drove up to Cologne to visit Martin’s uncle’s grave which is in Cologne South Cemetery and on the way back, called in at the ‘Ring to see what was happening and to check on track times, only to find that the place was knee-deep in Porsche GT3s. We then remembered the American lad in the car park of our Hotel that morning with his new GT3 giving it a spit and polish and telling us how he was having some driving instruction before shipping it to the US. At the ‘Ring!!!, talk about in at the deep end. Nice number plate though, 49 SF…wonder where he was from?
We went back to the Hotel and chilled for a few hours and then went back up to the track for the public session. We got chatting to two lads from Stuttgart who had come up in a borrowed car with the prime intention of beating Clarkson’s record. Pity their friend.
We got a 4-lap ticket, had a look at the exotica in the car park, drove up to the barriers, and away we went. As it had rained on and off all day, the track was a little edgy in places, but it also meant it was quieter than usual, which meant we could use the whole track rather than keeping out of the way of the ‘Ring veterans.
We used the first lap to re-familiarise ourselves with the place, but to our disappointment found that as