Nurburgring 24H update

It’s getting closer. Next Saturday I’ll be lining up somewhere near the back of a 220-car grid for the Nurburgring 24-hour race. In a Fiat 500 with 120bhp. Am I scared? Oh yes… But you know what, I’m bloody excited, too. The Marangoni-entered 500 looks like a proper little racecar and despite the fact that the fastest cars will be circulating probably 3- or 4-minutes a lap faster I’ll be a small part of one of the greatest races in the world. I can’t tell you how cool it is to know I’ll be sharing a track with Carlos Sainz – one of my heroes – and H-H Frentzen. That’s proper racing.

There’s a lot to get through before the lights go green, though. I’m travelling out to the ‘Ring in the DR M3 on Monday and start the training course on Tuesday. If you’re a VLN virgin you have to complete the course before you can race and it’s a mixture of theory and fast lapping. Dickie did it a couple of years ago and almost had an enormous accident (not his fault!), so it’s not just a few gentle laps to prove you can actually operate a steering wheel and gearbox. You have to do it in a road car so the M3 seemed like the obvious choice. It’s a bit weird doing the training in a car with 300bhp more than my racer will have to be honest…

There are two theories about doing the race in the slowest class. I reckon it’s a great introduction to the race because I’ll be so much slower than the big boys that they’ll be able to get past very easily and I shouldn’t have to worry about cars diving into braking zones desperately trying to nail a slightly slower car. However, my colleagues aren’t so sure. Dickie reckons the serious Porsches will be doing 190+mph down the straight and I’ll be doing about 110mph – which I have to admit is pretty terrifying. Chris was more succinct – ‘no amount of money in the world could make me get in a Fiat 500 for that race.’ Nice.

I suppose the reality is that the 500 will be great fun, but despite being relatively slow it’ll need pedalling hard because momentum will be everything. A lift at an inappropriate time could have a bloody huge effect on your average lap time. And then there’s the quick corners: I’ve been reliably informed that Schwedenkreuz will be flat on slicks in the 500. Think I’ll build up to that one… Of course the real battle will be getting the thing to the end. It’s a ridiculously tough track and this is the Marangoni tyres 500’s first race. It’s been brilliantly prepared by Engstler Motorsport but it only turned a wheel for the first time last week – and that was on the new circuit. Qualifying next Friday will be the first time it’s rolled onto the Nordschleife and the first time that I’ll have had any seat time at all. Oh f**k, do you think it’s too late to cancel?

  • Richard

    Good luck Jethro. I think you’ll be fine. Cannot wait to read about the experience in a couple weeks time.

  • Richard

    Good luck Jethro. I think you’ll be fine. Cannot wait to read about the experience in a couple weeks time.

  • DBT

    Good luck Jethro!

    You have my full support and incredible amounts of envy!

  • DBT

    Good luck Jethro!

    You have my full support and incredible amounts of envy!

  • adrianrx8

    sounds like alot of fun. would be interesting to see what the costs break down for the race in the fiat is compared to some of the big boys.
    good luck

  • adrianrx8

    sounds like alot of fun. would be interesting to see what the costs break down for the race in the fiat is compared to some of the big boys.
    good luck

  • hvl

    I see where you’re coming from, but you also have to remember that you are one of the luckiest people in the world. I mean – be a racing driver, drive in the Nürburgring and race with Carlos Sainz.

  • hvl

    I see where you’re coming from, but you also have to remember that you are one of the luckiest people in the world. I mean – be a racing driver, drive in the Nürburgring and race with Carlos Sainz.

  • Richard

    Now that I think I about it, I would be nervous as heck. You will be sharing the same track with many experienced drivers who we all have seen on television. That’s nuts. All in all I think you’ll be fine… just don’t cause any accidents with that Fiat.

  • Richard

    Now that I think I about it, I would be nervous as heck. You will be sharing the same track with many experienced drivers who we all have seen on television. That’s nuts. All in all I think you’ll be fine… just don’t cause any accidents with that Fiat.

  • franz

    pocket rocket cars are very funny to drive in events like this!

    go on and keep us informed during the event…
    and push! push! push! 😉

  • franz

    pocket rocket cars are very funny to drive in events like this!

    go on and keep us informed during the event…
    and push! push! push! 😉

  • What sort of lap times are the Porsche’s managing during the race? The circuit takes in both the new circuit and the full 13 mile ‘ring as well? Had it been just the ‘ring your Fiat would have made a nice bench mark for my visit.

    Hope you get on well, I am sure in a race like that there will be LOTS of stories to tell afterwards…just try and avoid any cars with dubious lyrics written on their rump.

  • What sort of lap times are the Porsche’s managing during the race? The circuit takes in both the new circuit and the full 13 mile ‘ring as well? Had it been just the ‘ring your Fiat would have made a nice bench mark for my visit.

    Hope you get on well, I am sure in a race like that there will be LOTS of stories to tell afterwards…just try and avoid any cars with dubious lyrics written on their rump.

  • Looking forward to see the results and any video footage you might get.

  • Looking forward to see the results and any video footage you might get.

  • Apex Twin

    Fiat 500 at the ‘ring?

    Presumably that will mean keeping your foot in through Schwedenkreutz? Happy days!

    All the best to you, JB.

  • Apex Twin

    Fiat 500 at the ‘ring?

    Presumably that will mean keeping your foot in through Schwedenkreutz? Happy days!

    All the best to you, JB.

  • CyberBilly

    You could always ask the team to fit snow/mud tyres so that you can drive on the grass up the Kesselchen and along the Dottinger Hohe straight just to get out the way of the faster machinery!!!!

    Good luck and have fun – the Corsas in last week’s VLN certainly looked to be having a laugh!

  • CyberBilly

    You could always ask the team to fit snow/mud tyres so that you can drive on the grass up the Kesselchen and along the Dottinger Hohe straight just to get out the way of the faster machinery!!!!

    Good luck and have fun – the Corsas in last week’s VLN certainly looked to be having a laugh!