June 29, 2009

Painful Nürburgring Crash du Jour: 997 Twin Turbo

We bring it to you as a public service of course... Fact is, your survival (financial but not only) at the Nürburgring is dependent on a long list of cautionary tales and learned anecdotes. You are all track junkies, you know your local tracks, you probably walked them, made a mental notes about the pavement. Most tracks have eight to fifteen corners, the 'Ring as over seventy in twenty six complex sections. Creating a vivid mental picture library is crucial.

Let's not focus too much on this particular driver who, after all, was foolish generous enough to post his mistake for others to learn from. For illustration purposes, let's just say that he may belong to a certain "danger group" of those who have some experience and a very fast car. They might turn up at the track with fancy race suits and nicknames which might remind one either of Formula 1 or of Top Gun parodies, depending on one's generosity.

It's late June and Manthey organized the track day.

The track is closed to the public so participants get to run the complete long straight without having to stop for the toll gate. Heaven.

Let's see where it all goes to hell after the jump (almost literally as it turns out). We will also debut a new exclusive feature we like to call: "What would Dale do?"

The video is kind of long, you might choose to watch just the last 45 seconds or so but it's a useful exercise to watch the whole thing and see if you catch any mistakes that explain the end result.

Pace is brisk however, just to put it in prospective, this presumably modified 997 Turbo is running at a pace achievable by a good driver in a stock 997 GT3 on Michelin Ps2 tires with traction control on. With the twin turbos doing their thing, his speed is huge in the straight sections, some of the turns are a bit of an issue. Most noticeable is the driver's tendency not to use the whole track as he exits the turns. You could probably write a whole post about what happens between 0:44 and 0:54 in the video. If any of you are instructors, this is almost a text book example for your students.

As he approaches the left turn after the old pit lane (the start of the lap in GT4...what IS that turn called anyway?) he brakes late, his tires are close to the limit, he misses the apex and compounds problems by getting on the gas hard with his wheel still cranked, he doesn't aim for the exit curbing and the resulting oversteer moment inevitable. Next turn, Hatzenbach, same thing does not use all the track.... and so on, you get the picture. As the laps unfolds we finally come to Klostertal (aka the 180 before the Karousel). The approach to this turn has a crest and is blind...

The driver is on the gas all the way past the crest, with his front end unloaded he has little hope to get it slowed enough with predictable results.

So remember kids as you approach Klostertal, you make sure you either brake or lift BEFORE the crest. Now, it same situation as this driver, "What Would Dale DO?"
Dale says:
He should have just thrown it in with a big lift-off, caught the slide, extended it to a drift, waved to the crowd, put the air-con to max and driven away....

Mental pictures, it's all about mental pictures!


  1. My impression of this video is that he entered the turn too hot despite being under braking (you can hear the tires squealing under braking), didn't sufficiently slow the car, then tried to avoid the outside (lefthand) wall by cranking the steering wheel to the right. The car appears to have *understeered* into the wall, since the DS fender - not the DS quarter - hits the wall first.

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.

  2. there's no runoff there, so it's either you turn or you go into the Aarmco, or a combination of the two if you get there too hot.

  3. Maybe I'm nuts, but I've always heard "slow in, fast out" in regards to turns (and one night stands, but that's another issue).

    Seems this guy likes to overcook a lot of these corners, and rely on grip and luck to get him out. That doesn't last long.

    Or am I oversimplifying the issue?

  4. The "slow" part of "slow in, fast out" is relative, you want to make that as fast as possible, however that pesky enemy ofus all, PHYSICS does rear its ugly head once in a while!

    That is why one should always use all the track and never try to brake or change direction when your front wheels are unloaded.

  5. AC - Can you explain what you mean by never braking when the fronts are unloaded?

    Also, I take it you are not a fan of trailbraking (obvs. not in a Pcar, but in other cars it helps turn'in & mid-corner speed tremendously.).

  6. Clarification from Anonymous of 2:21:

    Insert "in other cars, trailbraking CAN, but doesn't necessarily help..."

  7. On the contrary I'm a big fan of trailbraking, but it has to be done right, In this cae trailbraking is not a factor at all, as I explained in the main post, there is a crest right before the incident's corner, The correct thing to do there is to brake before the crest, there is simply not enough room after it...as illustrated by the video! ;O)

  8. The biggest reality check of the NRing vs. any regular track is the need to adapt your braking zones and entry lines into corners due to big bumps, elevation changes and pronounced camber shifts.
    Most racetracks, specially in the US, are glass smooth and braking into a corner or trailbraking into a corner is just a matter of adjusting distance for speed.
    At the NRing, this is a rare case and often the track surface dictates when you can brake and when you can't. In many places you have to brake a lot earlier due to unloading crests (like in Steilsctecke) or in some others you can brake much harder and later under compression.


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