NSX files, project Germany: Track day at Hockenheim GP 26.03.2004
2 minutes barrier cracked  Hockenheim GP
One of my major goals for track days is improving my best laptime from last year. Usualy we're attending a track not more than one time per year so I have always about a year time to improve my skills and the car. At Hockenheim GP my best track time was about 2:01,5 and for sure: I wanted to crack the 2 minutes  barrier - not that easy when you know that a Supercup Porsche with a good driver is capable of a bit less than 1:50 and that are real race cars and professional drivers.

The day started with temperatures about 0 degrees celsius but with some sun and dry track so I could drive with the Yokohama slicks. The event included 2 run groups, one with 2 dozens of Formula cars - (including Formula 3000 and a Radical SR 3 2seater), the other with about 45 saloon cars - mostly Porsches, Lotus and Cup Renault Clios. Each run group had 8 sessions with about 30 minutes per session, enough for more than 70 laps on the new Hockenheim GP track. As always passengers were allowed as long as they wear helmets and so I invited some guests and played taxi driver at 6 of my 8 sessions.

My first session began with a bad surprise: Smoke came from my front right wheel, especialy during braking. After some laps the red brake control (also used for the handbrake) began to light during braking and cornering. I returned to my crew (some of my guests where the mechanics that modified my car - it's always recommended to invite the right persons) to check it. Brake fluid was very low and dust of smoke came from the wheel. You may have guessed: A copper seal from the steel brake line failed and the brake fluid leaked. Track event rule number one: No matter how much tools and spare parts you take with you, the ones you urgently need are never there.

No spare seal, no brake fluid in my boxes - bummer! So my chief technician had to mount the line in a way that it was okay for this day and the seal was forced to hold the  fluid. Track event rule number 2: If you need something urgently there is always another team that is glad to help you. So we bought a big can of racing brake fluid from the team of Porsche Zentrum Inntal that attended Hockenheim with a big truck and 4 GT 3 cup cars. Thanks again, guys!

After bleeding the brake system everything was okay, no more leak. I increased the speed with every session when the brandnew tires became more and more grippy. Unfortunately some other drivers where not as relaxed or lucky. 2 Porsches crashed into the barriers, one was nearly totalled (very sorry, that it was one of the team that helped me with the brake fluid), a historic Racing Corvette Stingray lost its rear Lexan window on the main straight, some other cars had minor damages or spun into the gravel  - I never saw this amount of incidents at one track day. Fortunately no one was injured.

No wonder that the number of cars dropped at every session. In the afternoon at the last two sessions there was enough space on the track to try some real hot laps without passenger. Until then my best lap time with a feather light female passenger was 2:01,67. The girl enjoyed it very much but had a green face afterwards and wasn't capable to eat anything. Best lap time in the first session I drove alone (and the 2nd last of the day) was about 2:00,60 - so I had only one session left to reach my goal.

Track event rule number 3: To use some tricks to be faster is not cheating. So I filled only that amount of fuel in the tank that would be enough for the last session to keep the weight as low as possible and I told myself: There are still some corners here that you can drive faster, maybe with the use of some tarmac safety zones (a common method for the DTM drivers at Hockenheim).

hockenheimsued sachs2004
Hammering through Hockenheim Nordkurve (after the main straight) and Sachs-Kurve in the "Motodrom"

So I used the safety zone in the Suedkurve to carry more speed onto the main straight, slammed through the Nordkurve with about 145 km/h where I had to use the safety zone to avoid spinning, hammered the brakes at the latest points I guessed to be just possible and so on - no cheating at all, just racing. 10 minutes before the end of session the display of my AIM My-Chron Light Infrared Laptimer (also no cheating possible) showed 1:59,49! Hoorray - Mission completed!  

So I decided to let the next lap to be the cool down lap and to end the session early. There is no need to take further riscs by trying to improve that laptime. Above a certain point that is very dangerous as we saw that day with other cars. Rumours say that my Yoko tires already wrote a letter to amnesty international to condemn me for mistreating them.

Next track day was the 1st of may at the former french F1-track Dijon-Prenois where I had my next goal: Breaking the 1:35 barrier. 

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