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LMES - Nurburgring 1000 Kms
The ‘Ring, Seikel, Wolfgang Kaufmann and a VERY Impressive Volvo

The Nordschleife, the REAL Nurburgring, 14 miles of twisting, turning, bucking, tarmac that makes a modern race circuit look and feel like kiddytime stuff.

The dsc crew had been offered the opportunity to sample the track, with Wolfgang Kaufmann in charge of the brand new AWD version of Volvo’s S60R, with 300 horsepower of turbocharged five perhaps the ideal weapon to attack ‘The Ring’.

But whilst Wolfgang lapped the track to entertain some other guests, the dsc boys were treated to a procession of sportscar drivers who popped by to have a go.

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dailysportscar.comFirst up were Mike Newton and Tommy Erdos, Newton at the wheel of a Mercedes E Class. Johannes Gauglica hitched a ride and pronounced himself highly impressed with Newton’s knowledge of the circuit and his running commentary.

The Editor meanwhile hitched a lift with Eric van de Poele in a 3 series BMW turbodiesel estate. This was surely proof if it were needed that god given talent makes up for an awful lot of horsepower – with a myriad of BMW M3s, Lotus Elises and Porsche 911s out on track, the BMW was passed by “Nothing, nothing even came close!” said a grinning Cracknell, as he bailed out a surprisingly short time later.

“You’ll enjoy yourselves with Wolfgang, he really knows his way around here, I’m never really sure which way the circuit goes!” said Eric as he made his farewells.

The best parts were when Eric said “I don’t know whether it’s a left or a right hander coming up,” commented the Ed.

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Next up was a Porsche 911 with Emmanuel Collard at the wheel. His passenger load however was worthy of note too, Messrs. Ortelli, Pompidou and Franchitti (above) the Younger.....

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... all grinning like schoolkids as the Porsche factory driver queued to buy his 14 euro ticket. This combination would reappear after a remarkably short interval, Franchitti jumping from the car to exclaim “F*** me that was fast! Ortelli was holding onto me screaming all the way round.”

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Behind him in the queue was one David Warnock, co-driving his new charge aboard the JWR Porsche 911 RSR: their weapon of choice however was somewhat less glamorous, a Ford Ka! Maximum attack from Liddell would be the order of the day.

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The Paul Belmondo Racing squad were out on track too (above, Gosselin), in a BMW 6 series Cabrio and Ferrari 360, with the Team Jota drivers also all having a go, together with Gian Maria Gabbiani, in what might, or might not, have been modest hire cars.

Then it was our turn. Kaufmann glided to a stop to offload passengers, who were notably quieter than they were when boarding. First lap was David Lord up front with yours truly in the rear, Wolfgang explaining the finer points of the Volvo as he (very rapidly) brought the car up to speed.

Turn in was pinpoint accurate and traction was utterly phenomenal. My ‘day ride’ is a turbocharged Volvo C70 but the company has clearly not been standing still in their development programme. I don't chase motorcycles though...

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After two corners you just had to laugh, this was comic book stuff, Kaufmann and Volvo combining to create poetry in motion, albeit very rapid poetry.

As for the circuit – What can be said that hasn’t been said before? It is unbelievable, utterly and insanely improbable that Formula One and Group C cars raced around this place. In most countries in the world they would say this track was too dangerous for rally cars. On our lap one couple had found out to their cost that it can still bite back. A brand new rented Opel Vectra Estate having been somewhat remodelled by a sizeable impact with the barrier: other than the tears borne of the realisation that this will have to be explained away somehow, there was evidently no harm done to life or limb.

Back though to Mr Kaufmann and the fruits of Volvo’s labours. It really is this simple. I have never, ever been so impressed by a combination of car and driver at first hand. His constant commentary was an added bonus “David, you should get a good shot as we make this jump.” Nice theory Wolfgang, but Lordy was having difficulty even holding the camera up, let alone getting the shot!

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There was applause from members of the public at the ‘best’ corners as Kaufmann passed. The sight of something as incongruous as a Volvo massacring the efforts of BMWs and Porsches was clearly appreciated.

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“Ahh gut, a Porsche ahead, let’s have some fun,” was the next worrying utterance: the 911 though was despatched almost instantly, and would arrive back at the end of the circuit a good 90 seconds after the Volvo had pulled up.

Last vehicle put to the Volvo sword was the Seikel Motorsport team bus, driven by the eponymous team owner Peter Seikel It was a thumbs up and a wave along Dottinger Hoe as around nine minutes of the most impressive driving I have ever experienced at first hand came to an end.

Next up it was the Editor’s turn (with Wolfgang), Cracknell up front with Lord and Gauglica in the rear of the car.

dailysportscar.comMuch less than 10 minutes later they were back, but not before Mike Jordan had started off around the circuit solo in a Ford Focus, a quiet anticipatory smirk on his face.

The Editor emerged with a wide grin on his face, but poor Johannes emerged with his lunch in his hands: a seatbelt had tightened at the wrong moment and in an instant it was time for a diced carrots surprise. Wolfgang found that very funny.

After five laps of the most demanding circuit on the planet the Volvo was still rock solid (Darling, can we trade in the C70?) and Kaufmann was still utterly calm and collected. Yours truly however hasn’t stopped smiling and giggling since!

Thanks Wolfgang, most sincerely.
GG

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