Deep in the Eiffel Forest is a monster that's so feared and so ferocious that only a handful of those who attempt to pass its 150 frightening turns make it to the end. The Nurburgring Nordschliefe. The scariest track in the world.
New for 2020, iRacing Introduced the Virtual VLN Series (VLN standing for Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenpokal Nürburgring) - which translates to: Association of Nürburgring Endurance Cup Organisers - before being re-named to a much more sensible "Nürburgring Langstrecke (long distance) Series" or Nurburgring Endurance Series (NES) for those without detachable tongues.
As Me, Berkley, Peer and Maxim all woke up (in different hotel rooms, obviously), we all noticed one thing - it was incredibly foggy. So foggy in fact that we could not see the road outside the hotel barely 5 yards in front of us! With breakfast had (Full Monty for myself) we ventured off into the fog - somehow managing to make it to the track. Max and Peer went for the much more civil option of a German GT3, whilst me and Berkley went for the Porsche 911 Cup - which proved to be very interesting. The 911 Cup is challenging at the best of times, but at the Nordschliefe, it's like juggling whilst riding up radillion - there's just no way it could end well. I had a good lap-and-a-half's practice in the 911 cup before-hand, so I thought I'd learn it as we went along - as history has shown many times before, this was not the smartest idea.
In the meantime, Berkley qualifed slam bang in the middle of the GT3 Cup field - 22nd overall. Only 5 of the 15 911 Cup's managed a clean qualifying lap - this should have been a sign as to show what we were about to be up against.
The lights went out and two rows of cars thundered down to turn one for the first time...Things were about to get messy. Jeremy Valignon who was in a Mercedes AMG GT3 got spun in the braking zone by a late-braking 911 Cup who took the him through the turn one hairpin backwards - with only a bit of pushing and shoving, the stranded Mercedes was left mainly intact as the field of GT3 Cup's and GT4's found their way past. Bumping and bashing their way into turn two, The 911 Cup Car of Thomas Conort collect a spinning Oliver Baron - Tom would then have a single roll after being rear ended by the same late-braking Porsche as before
Berkley continued to power through the struggling field, before - he too, found the limit.
Undeterred by his mistake, Berkley rejoined - behind a group of TCR's - It was going to be a tough, long race - but we had the aspiration to power through it, through thick and thin, good and bad - we would get this tricky little car to the end
Straights were really the only place to be able to set up and make a move.
There may have been spins and mistakes, but Berkley was incredibly determined not matter what happened - and even though he was essentially starting from scratch, he continued driving an slowly but surely, he picked the others off one-by-one.
Bergwerk, Lap 3 - Berkly lucky finally ran out whilst trying to pas some TCR's - and unfortunate accident followed - the TCR wasn't affected and continued it's race - but for us it was one long tow-ride back to the pit-lane for Berkley.
After arriving back in the pit-lane, Berkley jumped into the second car and left the pit-lane - we had only lost a lap.
Berkley then had a good short, clean run over-taking a couple of cars and keeping the car on the road...however, as quickly as things were looking hopeful, lady luck waved her wand against us.
Weather it was luck or wrong place and wrong time the Mercedes went to the inside to lap u, on the miniature straight leading up to the Karussell, he thought he was passed us, and continued onto the Krussell.
Berkley ws on the outside and thought that the Merc was clear (past us) however, there wasn't and the Kabort driver unfortunately spun the Mercedes out, which rolled backwards kiss the armco at an awkward angle and then roll over (landing back on fours afterwards). It was only after all of this did he finally have a chance to redeem himself - and by golly did he - an entirely clean lap without fault or incident was a welcome change to the harsh reality we had up against us.
A small spin on the GP circuit didn't hurt - but what did hurt was seeing the car once again on the trailer, heading very slowly to our garage.
It was an unlucky version (middle & right) of the scary miss he had on lap 4 (left) The car returned to the pits, and the mechanics slaved away again at the car - repairing every last inch of metal.
Almost half way into the race- it was at last my turn to get in... I admit, I had a quater-spin (just losing the back end badly) on my outlap, but aside from that, things went pretty smoothly. Now, this is not to say that I'm a good driver - I'm not - I've got an iRating of less than 1000, and I drive rather slow - but that's my secret to success - I don't push the car to the max every single corner - I see where I am comfortable and stick to it - and that's where the consistency comes in. Alas, this clean run ended when a TCR unfortunately spun in front of me. I was able to slow down, however the GT4 behind me was not.
A huge thank you must go out to Porsche for building such a strong roll-cage, I truly appreciate it - and on this occasion - it has saved my life. It may be a weird achievement - but this is the first time I have ever been upside down in a car. since we were two doubles and a single (stints) - and mine had been done sitting in the pit-lane, I left Berkley to do his final stint whilst I went and did something else - I never did see what happened to our little Porsche, but judging by the event results, I assume we ran out of the little luck we had left.
(Disclaimer: I asked Berkley permission to upload this blog, and he admitted that he "raced terribly lol" in his exact words) ~ The last thing I want this to become is a dig against Berkley - because it's not - it's a race blog about the Nurburgring Endurance Series race we had - and Berkley was unfortunately in the firing line for absolutely everything - I found the 911 Cup a massive handful as well - hence why I chose to do so few laps, as opposed to jumping in to save Berkley. I want to make blatantly clear - that Berkley is not a dangerous nor unsafe driver - he is actually very good in a GTE in ELMS - I was just chucking us both into not only the deep end - but the Mariana Trench - you can not get a harder combo than The 911 Cup and Nurburgring - aside from an LMP1. Had we both practiced our arses off, and had some luck - maybe the blog would be different?
The next VVLN race is on April 12th and for that I have decided to go for the much wiser option of going for the Mercedes AMG GT3 (as has Berkley) with an Aussie Sam Thurtell - and as Berkley is interested in driving the Merc - we'll count him in too!
Judging by Max and Peer's incredibly positive race - it should be half decent! P26 with a minimum position of 17th! vVLN Round 1 (Porsche 911 Cup)
Q: 56 (14th in class) (Berkley Cox)
R: DNF/35th (4th In Class)
vVLN Round 1 (AMG GT3)