THE INSIDER’S GUIDE
If you watched Episode 5 of the Insider’s Guide, you’ll recall that we took a deep-dive into the best ways of learning new tracks by focusing on both helpful tips and techniques. This week, we’re going to take those tips and techniques and apply them for real—and do so on the most demanding track you’ll ever face, the epically challenging Nuburgring Nordschleife circuit.
Known as the Green Hell for good reason, the Nordschleife is a 20KM-plus road circuit that has been scaring drivers and making racing heroes since 1925. With 73 turns—33 left- and 44 right-handers—11 percent slopes, 17 percent gradients, blind turns, jumps, bizarre cambers, and virtually no room for error, this is a track where speed comes only from an intimate knowledge of what is coming over the next blind rise. With a mix of really fast turns and blind apexes, learning this track is a difficult task—both in real-life and in its virtual layout in Project CARS 2. The only difference? You can afford to make a mistake in-game …
Learning this massive track has been facilitated in-game as you’re afforded the possibility of learning the Nordschleife in stages—we’ve taken the full track and broken it down into three point-to-point stages. What this means is that you can learn the track in chunks, mapping out the flow and sequence of corners before moving onto the next chunk. Then, once you have them all down, you can then tackle the full track in one go.
Or, of course, you can do it the “real” way and dive straight in at the deep-end by learning the whole track in one go. Whichever way you choose, how you go about learning this track remains the same.
The Nordschleife: dos and don’ts
- By default, stay off the curbs. This is because 85 percent of them are big, with grass or gravel on the other side, and will do more to unsettle the car and cause it to break traction than help you with lap time and maximising track width.
- The other 15 percent of curves you can use to your advantage. These generally tend to be either completely flat or rise up and have concrete or “grass-crete” on the other side. Still, you need to be cautious here as some are only useful if the car is settled and you’re on the right line.
- Take care with your speed going over crests. There are some infamous “biggies” around the Nordschleife, and often they will make the car go light. If too much air gets underneath the car, it can catch the floor and lift the nose up, meaning you’ll no longer be looking at the track and instead be staring at the sky. That’s not the fastest way around a track, but it is a very fast way to the scene of a big shunt. You want to lift-off or lower your speed over these crests to keep the front of the car down, allowing you to spot any upcoming corners, and have the front-end grip to turn-in and make the corner. Most importantly, don’t brake when airborne! You’ll lock the wheels the instant you return to earth, and that’s a sure-fire way to be making friends with the barriers.
- Keep the speed down in the carousel. It’s a fantastic and famous corner due to the huge camber and concrete that runs through the turn, and it’s good fun to get tucked in, but if you want to stay down in the lower part of the carousel, you need to keep your speed down too. Typically for a road car, you want to keep your speed in the region of 70-85kph (43-52mph), and for race cars you want to be around 80-95kph (49-59mph). It depends on how good the suspension and tyres are as to where in those speed brackets you’ll need to be, but anything more than that and you’ll see yourself popping out the top.
- Use the camber of the corners to your advantage. There are quite a few dips and bumps around the track in various corners, some of which can really help you tuck into a turn and carry that extra little bit of speed through. Do some sighting laps to look out for these and mentally note where they are. You need to have the car in the right place on the right line for some of them to really work, but they can help you shave off a tenth or two. Obviously look out for any bumps that you need to be careful of that can unsettle the car too.
- Take it steady and build up the speed as you turn laps. It will take a long time to learn the Nordschleife due to its length but learning it properly and turning laps consistently is very rewarding and isn’t something a lot of drivers can boast about. Look after the car and guide it around the track, and it will look after you. Treat the track with respect, and it will serve you well.
- Remember, it’s a long lap, so making up time for a small mistake can be done through multiple corners rather than immediately trying to gain it back in the next one. It will bite you if you try it.
It’s now time to take a deep breath, and plunge into Episode 33 with Yorkie, who will talk you through the ’Ring’ corner by corner, and give you a deep-dive into what and what not to do around the world’s most challenging race tracks.
It’s time to reveal the secrets to the Nurburgring Nordschleife.