June 12, 2006

Axis Ring Part IV: The track, reality vs GT4

As CG and I headed for the gate I think we both tried to put on a brave face but we were more than a little nervous, and believe me we are both very confident on the track usually!
OK, so we were on a huge track with a nasty reputation, it was raining (and not raining enough to really clean the track either) and we were driving a 400 horsepower mid engine supercar with almost telepathic front end.... really, why be nervous?

Now I must again give a word of thanks to CG’s friend Andres from Columbia who was up for us at some ungodly hour of the night so that he might grab frames of us at the track from the Nurburgring webcam. Andres, that was awesome, what a great souvenir. Now you need to come to NY and go do some hooliganistic driving with us, I think Carlos would agree that you should be an honorary Axis member from now on!

I wonder what effect Gran Turismo 4 has had on Nurburgring driving. I, like millions probably, have logged a few thousand laps on the Playstation and I have to say that at no time while driving the real thing I was lost or wondered which way the road was going to go over the next blind crest, not once.

There are however a number of surprises and indeed one of our mantras for the day was “This is not GT4, this NOT GT4!”.
As you know the tourist lap starts half way down the longest straight and as you head down the hill towards the chicane before the pits, the track looks almost exactly like in the game. The first right of the chicane on our very first lap gave us a clue as to exactly how little grip we had to play with: a lurid slide even at the meager 30/40 mph we turned in at set the tone and primed our “Code Brown” alarms! Yikes....there is no wet setting in GT4!

The next major difference in real life is the section leading to the Hatzenbach. The whole snaky section is MUCH SMALLER and SHORTER in reality than is seems in the game, and this is going slow too. GC did an especially lurid slide in the last left. I imagine that in the dry this would be a fantastic rhythm section but fall behind in your turns and you will definitively be toast (this IS true in the game too).
The very next turn, the right left I believe is called Hocheichen, is another one the game really cannot convey. The turn is an example of how much the camber of the road plays a role at the ‘Ring and why there is no substitute for local knowledge. That turn has a bizarre and abrupt camber change, position your car wrong and again...toast!

The following section past the Flugplatz is a quite a lot like the game except, of course “This is NOT GT4!” and no, you cannot take the blind right after the jump at full throttle! not in the rain anyway.

The next surprise was the section between the ultrafast Schwedenkreuz left and the Aremberg: the braking zone is much, much shorter than you would imagine from the game.....pay attention virtual experts....yes, there is some runoff there but it will not prevent you if you get it wrong from being once again, toast. It did not help that in between laps some local drivers casually told us that “two guys died in a ball of flames at Schwedenkreuz in a 360 Modena just recently,...” Thanks guys!

I have to say that while keeping in mind the mantra (keep repeating it...”this is NOT GT4”) much of the rest of the lap is almost perfect in the game. A notable exception is coming into Pflantzgarden.
There is a tricky downhill left kink which is off camber and again if your car is not positioned right coming out of turn after the Eiskurve you might easily end up putting wheels off on the right....yes this would likely result in you being toast again.
Finally, the superfast run downhill towards Schwalbenschwantz is actually tighter and steeper in real life....but then again “This is NOT GT4!”
So, I guess the Axis advice is by all means learn the way the road is going to go in GT4 but DO NOT think you know the track when you go there. Do not be a bonehead or you WILL end up as toast.

Here is one of our pathetically slow laps, really I’m just posting it just to because we have it and we did it. I have a couple of consolations though, we did lap about 2 minutes faster than that video later in the day when some dry lines started to appear (in fact we both did 10:01 and 10:04 respectively which I will be perfectly happy with for a first time on a damp track) and he got a modicum of respect from local hands for actually driving the Ferrari and driving it in the rain. Seems most Ferrari owners are the same the world over and most show up there, rev their engines, clean the car and just go home. That actually meant more to us than any lap time might.

Click on picture or Option-Click here to download

More to come: CG will discuss the Ferrari and more videos.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Taxi clip
About the Ferrari 360 F1

1 comment:

  1. It was my pleasure to get those shots for you. Infact I was already up (without and alarm clock at 3 am) when you called.

    We had talked with CG about going to the ring sometime, but not in a 360, and without a "Gumball 1500" included! You guys made the best out of every car guy’s dream.

    Definitely I'll have to come by NY later in the year to get to meet you, and try to get a ride with you at a track day (I'm willing to ride in the trunk if passengers are not allowed! ;-). Hey, I might even have a go at you at indoor karts ;-)



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