Nurburgring Speed Limits Could Be Lifted For Automakers
Well, it looks like the yardstick might be coming back: rumor has it that officials at the Nurburgring are planning on issuing an official statement that lifts previously imposed speed limits, possibly leading to automakers once again making attempts at setting new lap records at the fearsome German race circuit.
The speculation stems from a recent report out of RoadAndTrack, which cites an unidentified senior auto industry source as saying that Capricorn Nurburgring GmbH, the organization that owns and operates the track, is mulling a reversal of the limits.
Late last month, it was announced that certain sections of the track would see the enforcement of speed restrictions during manufacturer lapping sessions, such as a 124-mph-limit at the Flugplatz, Antoniusbuche and Schwedenkreuz corners, and a 155-mph-limit at the Dottinger Hohe section.
While not exactly pedestrian, the limits effectively put an end to the constant one-upping for bragging rights seen between the major performance manufacturers. Koenigsegg, for example, was all set to back its claim to fastest production car in the world with a new ‘Ring record in the 2015 Koenigsegg One:1 when the new limits were imposed, ending the Swedish brand’s hope at a fastest lap time (the automaker says its hypercar is capable of 186 mph in the 155-mph restricted zones).
Officials at the ‘Ring justified the new limits over an on-track incident at a VLN race back in March, wherein the No. 23 GT-R driven by Jann Mardenborough went airborne at the Flugplatz section, killing one spectator and injuring several others.
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0Why it matters0
As anyone familiar with the track will tell you, the Nurburgring is insanely dangerous. It’s nearly 13 miles of technically challenging corners, including more than 1,000 feet of elevation change and several flat-out, high-speed sections. It demands the absolute best of both driver and machine, and offers little to no room for error if you get it wrong. It’s believed that up to a dozen fatalities occur there every year.
The VLN crash in March was tragic, there’s no doubt about that. But I still fail to see the connection to manufacturer lap times.
The VLN crash in March was tragic, there’s no doubt about that. But I still fail to see the connection to manufacturer lap times. If ‘Ring officials decided to revamp safety standards and possibly change the Flugplatz section, then I would understand the response, but to impose speed limits three months after the fact simply doesn’t make sense to me.
For years, a fast lap at the ‘Ring was how the performance vehicle pecking order was established. This ban completely upended that tradition. Currently, the fastest production car lap time is held by a Radical SR8 LM, which set a time of 6:48 in 2009, followed by another Radical SR8 at 6:55 and a 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder at 6:57. Besting numbers like these is part of what drove the vast majority of performance makes to develop their fastest vehicles to date. A fast lap around the ‘Ring made the car you bought at the dealerships the performer it was.
Personally, I was surprised to hear about the speed limits, but this new rumor doesn’t surprise me at all. Frankly, I’m a bit shocked the limits have been in place this long in the first place.