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Nurburgring Nordschleife Speed Guide - Gran Turismo 4
###############################################################################

By Mike Kimball
Version 2.5, December 5, 2010

########
CONTENTS
########

Copyright Notice
Contact The Author
Foreword
Acknowledgements
Version Updates

The Car
  Arcade mode setup
  Practice mode setup
Game Equipment
  G25 Pedal Mod (for use with DFP wheel)
  Disk Read Error (fix)
Shoes - On or Off?
Left-Foot Braking
Driving Tips That Have Helped Me Go Faster

Nordschleife - Step by Step
  (Includes all corner names and time splits)
Looking Forward

Addendum 1 - racing setups
  Setup for 2-lap Family Cup (heavy fuel)
  Setup for 15-lap Formula race
  Notes on pit strategy for 15-lap
Addendum 2 - sub-5'00 examples
Addendum 3 - lap milestones
Addendum 4 - experimentation
Addendum 5 - real-life lap records
How many corners are there?

================
COPYRIGHT NOTICE
================

Copyright 2010 Mike Kimball
Intended for private, personal, and educational usage only.
Originally written to be displayed on www.gamefaqs.com.

Please notify me if you've posted it somewhere else.

All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are owned by
their respective trademark and copyright holders.

==================
Contact The Author
==================

I welcome email from fellow 'Ring fans anytime.  Please mention this
guide in the subject.

Send to bloodmetalcontent at yahoo dot com.

========
Foreword
========

"For a quick lap at the Nurburgring, you've probably experienced more in
seven minutes and six or seven seconds than most people have experienced
in all their lives in the way of fear, in the way of tension, in the way 
of animosity towards machinery and to a racetrack."
--Jackie Stewart, 1973

First of all, as the game disclaimer states, the game may differ from real
life in terms of the cars and tracks in appearance and handling, and thus
the information in this guide also may differ from your real car in real life.
I've done one passenger lap in the Zakspeed Viper, so there are certainly
others far better suited to give advice on attacking this very challenging
and dangerous circuit in person.

I've heard some tourists have misinterpreted GT4, and therefore have pushed
too hard and cracked up their cars.  Many elements of the game (grip,
power, reliability, and especially braking) tend to be rather idealized,
and even P.D.'s masterful rendering of the track naturally can't reach the
depth of detail in the real one.  Also it is a lot easier to go fast in a game
were there is no real gravity on your body, or damage when you hit something,
or risk in pushing the car or yourself too hard. So if you go there for
real, forget about your lap time from the game and just try to remember
what you learned about the track layout, because it might be a very different
experience for you.  Even if you've clocked a 4'41, this is only a vague
notion of what it was like for Stefan Bellof's record of 6'11 in his Porsche
956 (which no one has been able to touch since then).  I don't mean to be
pedantic but it's hard to overstate this point.

By the time I visited the Nurburgring in late August 2007 I had turned
600 laps in the game and watched many different dvds of in-car footage.
This familiarity with the track layout deepened the experience for me - the
thrill is greatly increased when corners no longer all look the same and you
know what is coming up next.  Even with quite a lot of traffic we went BTG
in 8'20 (traffic-corrected, our average speed was over 90mph, and I'm fairly
certain we were going about 175 in Kesselchen).  That Zakspeed Viper is truly
amazing - the news that they went bankrupt and closed in December 2009 was
just devastating, as was the news that the #2 Viper was involved in a big
accident and had been written off...

In 2008 I spent 9 days at the Bertil Roos road racing school, including
visits to VIR, NJ Motorsports, and Pocono North.  The great thing about
actual racing is how much sooner you sense the car reacting to your inputs -
especially moments where the weight transfer might start to get you in trouble.
When you've only driven street cars and racing simulators, driving a formula
2000 car on a real race circuit is a revelation.  As Lewis Black has joked,
"Oh, so this is what cars are *supposed* to do."

This guide is geared for those who seek suggestions to improve their time in
GT4, and who have, at the minimum, memorized the track.  It helps if you know
the track well enough to race with your display set to simple, which turns off
the flashing gear suggestions (which are not always accurate).  I'm not the
fastest driver in the world but I do hope this guide can inspire or help you
in some way, as it also helps me continue to evolve...

================
Acknowledgements
================

I would like to acknowledge some sources which have offered specific
inspiration for this guide: justgofaster.com, Nurburgring for Dummies by
Christopher Heiser, and of course Ben Lovejoy's awesome guide (including the
corner names and the very informative translations/history).  As for other
acknowledgements, I must mention dvds from FIA Formula 1 2000-2008, Best
Motoring International vols. 9-16 and Tsuchiya’s Drift Bible, and Skip Barber's
Going Faster.  Also, much thanks for the In Car 956 dvd featuring Derek Bell
and his commentary of a lap at Nurburgring, and the Nissan GT-R dvd featuring
fantastic laps from 'ringmeister Dirk Schoysman.  And also, the book
"Winning, a Racing Driver's Guide", by George A. Anderson, with guest authors
Carroll Smith and Bertil Roos among others.

Special thanks to all who made it possible for me to visit the Nurburgring
in person at last - our bus driver Max first and foremost for setting it all
up, my former band and crew, especially our tour manager Oise for adding the
Nurburgring day to the schedule, and all at Zakspeed for an amazing
high-speed experience.

And finally, all at Bertil Roos Racing School. No amount of time in a simulator
is as valuable as even one day at a real track, and what I learned from them
has made a huge difference.

===============
Version Updates
===============

Version 2.5
- Tweaks to the corner arrangement in some sections
- Added sections "real-life lap records" and "how many corners"
- Probable last update - GT5 has now released at last!

Version 2.4
- Notes on Disk Read Error fix that worked for me
- New fast times and a few tweaks to the lap guide
- Added English corner names

Version 2.3
- The usual small updates to times and setups, and one tweak to Pflanz 1
- Notes on modifying the G25 pedal board to work with the DFP wheel

Version 2.2
- New fast times and lap guide adjustments
- New car setup approaches (much softer)

Version 2.1
- New fast times and lap guide adjustments
- New car setup approaches

Version 2.0
- Added justgofaster-inspired summaries of each section
- New fast times and setup notes

Version 1.9
- Further updates to text of lap description for references, gearing, etc
- New fast times and setups

Version 1.8
- General text updates, new times, and setups
- Sections updated to include more info on reference points

Version 1.7
- More updates including a note from my racing school visit
- New fast times and setups

Version 1.6
- The usual corrections, updates, and evolution of the line
- New fast times and setups

Version 1.5
- As usual, some corrections of inaccuracies and omissions
- New fast times and setups
- Setups now include arcade mode, as well as Gran Tourismo mode
- Added a lap milestones section with my personal lap tally

Version 1.4
- New fast time and setup updates
- Addendum containing a setup for racing conditions (fuel and tire wear)
- More updates to the turn-by-turn guide and racing hints

Version 1.3
- Wouldn't ya know it? I had to correct a couple of omissions from 1.2
- Wouldn't ya know it? I abandoned the rear toe/front downforce experiment
- Wouldn't ya ... I changed the setup and finally managed to go faster

Version 1.2
- New info in The Car and Driving Tips sections
- Added Left-Foot Braking section
- Added Addendum 2 - experimentation

Version 1.1
- A couple of minor errors have been corrected.
- My record time and splits have been updated - along with new info about
the car setup and the incidentals of the lap.
- There is now an addendum of other example times/setups that beat 5'00.


=======
The Car
=======

I prefer to use a Formula Gran Turismo when I do time attacks at the 'Ring.
When going for a best time, you can use Practice (Gran Turismo mode) or Time
Trial (arcade mode) in order to race without fuel or tire wear to worry about
and also give you the option of having a ghost replay to use as a guide.
(Sometimes this is more of a distraction, but it is useful to record your
best time or even a lap that had certain good segments to help develop some
consistency; just remember not to let the car in front of you drive your
car, or cause your eyes to shoot wide of the apexes).

The difference in lap time between practice and arcade mode has now
narrowed to around 8 seconds for me - I still think driving the formula car
at the Nurburgring in arcade mode is ... well I'll say it, it's a PITA to
drive since the setup is so nervous and the pace is pretty far from reality.
It's so light, so low, so hard, and so much rear toe, that the car feels
like every bump is trying to snap you off the track.  I have to trick myself
by setting up the car harder to drive and get accustomed to that first, or
do a race first (with fuel and tire wear).  It's worth the experience to
race the formula car in arcade mode, but you will be pushing yourself, the
game, and even the force feedback mechanism to the limit.

Other cars that are fast enough to beat the 5-minute mark include many
group C cars such as the Audi R8 or Minolta Toyota 88C-V, which may be a lot
easier to drive if you are using arcade mode.  Most of the fast times I've
seen on YouTube were done with the Minolta, or the McLaren Mercedes C9.
I think it is a good idea to do time attacks with different cars just so
you can see how varying handling characterists can change your approach or
point out details about the circuit you may not notice in the Formula car.

Of course every setup is made up of compromises, especially at Nurburgring
where the circuit is incredibly varied so the car setup works great in some
sections but not as well in others.  The setup you use might vary according
to your driving style as it applies to different situations on the course.

Over time, as my setups have evolved and come back again, I've noticed that
a point I remember from "Winning" seems correct - that once the setup is in
the ballpark, it's rare that further tweaks themselves will result in a faster
lap time. It might make the car easier to drive though, or merely suit the
driver's style better so as to give enough confidence to improve.  Two to
tango, as it were.

Ultimately the car setup can seem to help or hinder you depending on how you
are driving that day, so its effects should be considered less important than
the ability to adjust one's driving style.  Nurburgring Nordschleife is
probably the best example of how crucial this adaptability is to getting
around the track in one piece, let alone setting a fast time.  There is a
reason some drivers get paid more than others - it's because the driving is
still the single most important factor in going faster.

That said, here are my Formula car setups and times for reference...

Arcade mode setup:
------------------

+20% power (1069), -10% weight (495), 400kph, driving aids 0
Tires: RS (front), RSS (rear)

Personal record: 4'40.824

In order to get more grip and balance I use softer rear tires; I also
put the gearing up to 390kph, or 400kph if my feet are too heavy. Steering
options - feedback strength I always set on Strong, but just for arcade mode
I add Power Assist on, since the bouncy feedback gets a little crazy.

The throttle is the biggest element of balance here, steering minimally since
the car is extremely twitchy.


Practice mode setup:
--------------------
It hit me one weekend while watching the 1976 F1 season review in which Niki
Lauda was talking about how he could go faster because the car was easier to
drive; also how many drivers in 2009 mentioned how nice the Mercedes engine
was because of its predictable power delivery; all of this made me think why
not examine my car setup and improve these areas (particularly the suspension,
transmission, and then slightly tweaking the diff).

Basically on most courses you want to set the suspension stiff and low, but
a bumpy circuit like the Nurburgring changes everything. If the car is nervous
then it is probably too hard, and you aren't getting the best grip.  But it
is also possible for it to be too soft (you'll notice braking and cornering
will not quite respond as expected or trace the line you desire).  I've found
that you can go fully soft on the springs and half the dampers too and it will
still be reasonably good - easier to drive, more responsive, less likely
to lose grip in corners where bumps upset the handling, and even the top
speed is higher (220mph in Schwedenkreutz).  Even when too much adrenaline
makes my hands start shaking, the car still feels responsive and doesn't get
away from me.  Without any new revelations about the circuit, just because it
is easier to drive and I can get on the power sooner in corners and not muck
about with corrections, I instantly made a jump and have been trying to refine
it from there.  I've tried stiffer springs off and on (around 10.6) but it
never seems to help for long.  This setup doesn't respond well to too many
busy inputs, but if you're smooth, it works great.

Here's what I used to get my best, and with this I can consistently hit 4'49s:

Suspension
Spring rate: 10.0, 10.0
Ride height: 65, 65
Bound: 4, 4
Toe: 0, 0

Transmission - Manual
Gear ratios: auto 17
5th: 2.003
6th: 1.666
7th: 1.440

Driving aids: 0, 0, 0

Diff: 11, 41, 24

(Steering Power Assist: OFF)

Personal record: 4'48.974

T1   30.855  T7  3'06.327
T2   54.496  T8  3'33.623
T3 1'14.465  T9  3'47.239
T4 1'48.043  T10 4'14.864
T5 2'13.749  T11 4'32.802
T6 2'32.146  L1  4'48.974


==============
Game Equipment
==============

If you are using the PS2 controller to drive the car, I can only say best of
luck.  Any wheel you could get would probably make you faster.

My current setup:
Logitech Driving Force Pro wheel
Logitech G25 pedals (modified, see below)
Sparco cockpit with a Sienna seat (reclined)

When I first got the Sparco cockpit and G25 wheel, my game improved
dramatically.  Unfortunately the G25 didn't last as long as its price tag so I
switched back to the DFP and I actually enjoy it more.  I think the Sparco
cockpit is what makes the biggest difference.  To me the wheel feels better
and more stable on the DFP, but the pedals are too light.  The pedals are
great on the G25, but they aren't originally compatible with the DFP wheel.

I also recently bought the DF GT wheel and like an idiot I didn't fully check
its compatibility, so to my dismay I found that it doesn't work at all on the
PS2, and it is not supported for PS2 games run on the PS3.  What I found is
that it works for a while, but there's a glitch that causes the throttle very
suddenly to stick wide open and the only way to fix it is to quit the game.
Also, the wheel is like a cross between the G25 features and the DFP materials
- so it is still plastic, with the same pedals as the DFP, but the mechanism
of the G25 wheel (meaning now the wheel AND the pedals are too light).

My original DFP wheel is pretty worn out now and does a funny thing where it
goes off center when I run over kerbs or do too vigorous a maneuver... I did
manage to find one "like new" on Amazon and it is just awesome, amazing how
much it makes a difference - the wheel feels heavy and tight again and all of
my personal records have improved dramatically as a result.

G25 Pedal Mod (for use with DFP wheel)
--------------------------------------

  The following advice will almost certainly void your warranty, so read on
  only if you don't mind that, and also, don't attempt this unless you are
  fairly good with small electronics and are not taking chances with your
  only game equipment.  I take no responsibility if your workmanship is not
  successful.  This is just my notes on what I did to get mine to work.

To make the G25 pedals work with the DFP wheel takes some rewiring, mainly
because the G25 brake wiring is backwards.  I went to Radio Shack to get
some wiring and connectors. This also requires some tools (a wire stripper,
and a Phillips screwdriver).  I also went to Home Depot for some sticky
Velcro (this is how I fasten the board so that I can get a better adjustment
on the seat, wheel, and pedal board positions).

Basically what I did is take the wiring out of one of my DFP pedal boards,
then bring it with me to buy wiring and connectors that are small enough to
adapt to it.  You'll only need to add a few inches to the length of three
of the wires due to the differing physical layout of the pedal switches.

On the wiring of the switches, you'll see that both pedals have a red and a
black wire on the left and right, plus a third middle wire which is either
white or green.  Here are the configurations that work with the DFP wheel:

DFP pedals original wiring (left to right - connectors on bottom):
  Throttle - single black, green, single red
  Brake - double black, white, double red

G25 pedals (again l-r connectors, right is nearest the red pedal pistons):
  Throttle - double black, white, double red
  Brake - *single red*, green, *single black*

Also, judicious use of electrical tape since the wires aren't grounded like
they are on the wiring loom of the G25 - cover any protruding metal where the
wire could touch; and with cutting/stripping/crimping, make it as clean as
possible.  The smallest wiring and connectors I could find were still a bit
larger than the existing, but I found with some bending I could get a nice
snug fit.  I haven't had any problems in two months of testing, though I did
decide the brake pedal is a bit too stiff, so I switched it with the clutch
pedal (and also, I put this all the way on the left, so there's an empty
space in the middle; this way I don't hit my knees on the underside of the
steering wheel clamps).  Finally, to make the Sparco cockpit accommodate the
pedals and the reclined position, I had to turn the foot panel upside down
and use a great amount of industrial strength sticky velcro... which is nice
because it holds perfectly but is still adjustable.

Disk Read Error (fix)
---------------------

Ugh, this can be annoying.  From what I read, it largely affects those using
the older version of the PS2 console (which I do, I like having a nice tray
that pops out) when trying to read dual-layer discs (which means games like
God of War and unfortunately, Gran Turismo 4).  For a while I was getting by
with the Browser and just repeatedly trying the eject/read cycle until it 
loaded; but this got very tedious.  For a while I also tried running the game
on my PS3, but I found this frustrating as well (graphically, and the feel
of the force feedback too was not quite right for extreme time attacks in the
formula car; stuff you hardly notice in any other situation with any other
car but in the FGT at the 'Ring I just couldn't put up with it).

The fix is so simple (or at least it was for me): clean the laser lens.  You
might try one of those disc cleaners, but my console is well out of warranty
so I just opened the case and took off the top shield on the disc drive, then
used the old alcohol and q-tip method.  Voila - the game works fine again as
if it were brand new.


==================
Shoes - On or Off?
==================

My suggestion is use what you are comfortable with.  At my house we are
shoeless so I got all of my quickest times wearing socks - this seems
to be ideal for the game since it compensates for the lack of feedback and
weight in the pedals.


=================
Left-Foot Braking
=================

Many drivers say this skill is indispensable in racing - and both karting and
Formula 1 pretty much require it.  Even when you are driving a car that has
a clutch, in some situations where no gear shift is needed it can be useful
to employ left-foot braking for stability as well as a quicker braking reaction
time.  I began practicing this extensively in my old car and in the game I
use it exclusively.  Even at racing school in some corners it came in handy.
At this point it has improved my fastest time in pretty much every car, not
to mention making it easier to drive in other conditions (especially rally;
but then real rally drivers are constantly shifting both feet between
brake/gas and brake/clutch). 


==========================================
Driving Tips That Have Helped Me Go Faster
==========================================

First, always bear in mind that as you improve in one section, it changes
your approach to the next, and so on.  All it takes is time, practice, and
gradual improvements in your knowledge of the car and the track. Very often
when you are pushing your limit and going off the track, getting frustrated,
feeling like quitting ;) you are actually just on the verge of making a huge
improvement.  So just remember it's all part of the process of training your
brain and your muscle memory.  Take a rest, come back a few hours or a day
later, and you'll be surprised how easy it suddenly gets.  It was often
the same way when I was learning the guitar.

Next, if you want to improve your lap time, it is crucial to consider the
importance of corner exits over late braking.  Obviously I brake as late
as I can, but braking later improves time in hundredths of a second, while
getting on the throttle earlier for the exit improves your time in tenths.
Remember that the reverse is also true - braking too early loses time in
just hundredths, but braking too late and then getting on the throttle late
loses time in tenths.

What this means is you should work backward - get the exit point right first,
then try to improve your entry, then finally polish your braking point.
The correct braking point goes hand in hand with the correct turn-in and 
throttle point however - braking too early often invites turning too early,
which can lead to going off the track at the exit; while braking too
late means you waste a lot of time going past the ideal turn-in and in some
corners you may not make the turn at all.  The simplest thing I try to remember
is that the lap time is essentially the sum of throttle and braking, and the
finish line is a finite point, so whatever gets me there earlier is good,
and I want to avoid doing anything that makes the lap longer by adding more
time braking, coasting, feathering, or otherwise not on full throttle.

Essentially the ideal that we want to work toward (though we may not always
achieve it) is the Bertil Roos idea of Full Throttle, Full Brake, Full Time.
What this means is you are working toward an ideal that you know the track
and your car so well, that you only use either full throttle, or full brake,
but nothing else.  Again, this is an IDEAL - it doesn't mean we ignore our
techniques of light braking, feathering the throttle, line recovery, etc when
we get in trouble or when certain track areas require it.  There probably are
tracks where FT/FB/FT is possible, but I don't think the 'Ring is one of them.
Here, you just try to reach that ideal in sections that are smooth enough to
allow it.

Another valuable piece of advice is from Petter Solberg: "You have to try to
be very neat, no attack, because as soon as you try to push harder, you go
slower.  So just keep it neat and steady."  Professor Nakaya seems to concur,
that in some situations the driver's attempt to push harder will be useless
since it only increases the steering angle as well as the friction of the
wheels on the pavement, which cancels out or even negates any increase the
driver desires to make. Again, aggressive driving is often useful in racing,
but for time attack you want to be as smooth as possible, and in some corners
you just want to maintain revs but apply only enough throttle to get the right
balance.

The book "Winning" had some interesting advice also - basically that you
should not feel "comfortable" while racing - you should be going at the limit
and often fighting for grip on every corner.  What I've found is on many
corners you want to go for a certain amount of slip to get the optimum exit
and full acceleration.  This will of course make it difficult to control
wheel spin as well as keeping the rear from sliding around as you try to
steer your way out.  Another way to put it, sometimes your steering may feel
sloppy or busy as you try to manage the low traction situation known as 
maximum acceleration.

Undulating corners are all over the place at Nordschleife, but they are not
as friendly and predictable as a track like Suzuka, so you will need to think
about how weight transfer affects braking and throttle as your car alternates
quickly between understeer and oversteer, often in the same corner - not easy
to do in a video game, where the vertical changes aren't always visually
obvious.  (The only exception to this that I've seen is Need for Speed Most
Wanted - somehow they made it really clear graphically, there is no ambiguity
about the elevation changes.  How did they do that?)  If you find spots where
you tend to spin out even with steady throttle and steering input, an
undulation is probably the cause. In some cases it can also be crowned pavement
but this is the same thing, just laterally.

Once you feel really dialed in after many laps of practice, you'll start to
experience feeling like it's just basic flowing lines, using as smooth and
steady inputs as you can manage, adjusting the acceleration for the shape of
each corner.  (I can hear Bruce Lee saying "Don't think!  Feeeeeeeel...")
Your mind is clear and calm because your body is just nailing each section.
When you feel it, it is magic.

Ok, now it's time to take a lap around the track!

===========================
Nordschleife - Step by Step
===========================

Note: I include the reference points I usually notice, but frequently
I look at the kerbs - front edges for braking points, back edges for turn
in points, etc.  There is also graffiti all over the track, so pick what
works for you but remember that where the graffiti stops, if you still
haven't finished braking and turning in yet, you might have some trouble.


T13 (grandstand section)
------------------------

5th - Brake-4-3-2 - left - 3-4-5 - right bend - 6th - right - 7th - left bend

If you got a good exit from the final right turn of Hohenrain, you should be
coming toward the start/finish straight accelerating from 3rd gear through 4th
and 5th, tracking to the right side, and then braking down to 2nd gear
for the first left.  Because it's downhill, it's easy to miss the apex here.
I've tried a lot of different lines but apexing where there is a bunch of 
graffiti seems to be quickest and allow full power earlier.

Flat out into 6th gear for the second right, where the rear wants to come
out on the exit if you push too hard, so turn in early about where the yellow
graffiti is, and squeeze out of the wheel a bit on the exit.  7th gear before
you brake for the next section.

Hatzenbach (Hatzen Brook)
-------------------------

Brake-6-5-left-4 - double right - 5th - left - 4th - right, quick left

I have started taking the left while downshifting all the way to 4th so I can 
throttle earlier through the right; I think it also keeps the rear end a bit
more stable.  Back up to 5th for the next left about where the path is,
throttle through, then keep the revs high in 4th to throttle to the right, then
dab the brakes to medium revs in 4th for the hard throttle to the left, exiting
wide and heading to the next section in 5th gear.

Hocheichen (Great Oaks)
-----------------------

Brake-4-3 - right - 4th just before crest - left - flat 5-6-7

This corner made me start examining my ride height.  As you approach the
first right, brake fairly early down to 3rd gear, turn in at the red graffiti
and give it a lot of gas toward the crest; shift to 4th before the left, where
it is quite slippery, keep on the throttle maybe with a quick lift and let
the car track to the right edge on exit. Flat out to the next section.

Quiddelbacher Hohe (Quiddelbach Height)
---------------------------------------
T1 0'29.988

Flat - over crest - right

(29.8 at T1 is possible.)

This section is flat out but bumpy, stick to the basics and you should reach
7th gear before the brutal crest at the start of the next section.

Flugplatz (Airfield, literally "Flying Place")
----------------------------------------------

Flat - over crest - settle - double right - left - left

Go over the left center of the crest as straight as you can and try not to
come off the throttle.  You should have a beat to let the car settle before
heading into the double-apex right-hander.  This corner is very easy to get
wrong going flat out at this speed, and is the main place that made me set
the toe to zero in my practice setup, but this is all flat in 7th gear if you
take it smoothly enough.  Barely touch the first apex, and you should
come around the second one in a single arc.  Keep going flat out into the
next section.

Schwedenkreuz (Swedish Cross)
-----------------------------
(Top speed 232mph TT, 220mph GT)

Flat 7th - left - crest - careful long bumpy left - still flat

This is all flat out, in 7th gear.  Go over the crest near the middle or
slightly right but go as straight as possible.  The next long left is totally
flat, but you need to be very gentle with the turn in, and there is a bump
about half-way through that can be unsettling.  Also, try not to touch the
inside kerb which tends to throw off your balance.  Try to make the car
track slightly left of center as you get ready to brake hard down to 4th
into the next section.

Aremberg
--------
T2 0'52.796

BRAKE-6-5-4 - long right - flat on exit

(Again T2 could be 52.6 but wasn't this time...)

It's important for your time to get a good exit here so concentrate on your
braking point and get a good line. There's some red graffiti on the pavement
that I usually use as a reference.  This is a somewhat long right-hander so
throttle control is important. If you can do this without 3rd gear it will
improve your time but 4th can also cause a lot of understeer.  Try to get a
straight line for good acceleration on the exit toward the bridge.  You can
take a lot of kerb on the exit if you have to but avoid it normally.

Fuchsrohre (Foxhole or "Fox's Neck")
------------------------------------

Flat to 7th left-right-left - right - left - left

Drive through the bends as straight as you can, touching each kerb, until you
approach the compression that leads up the hill to the left.  You can stay
completely flat all the way to 7th gear. As you come up the hill stay to the
right, and the left over the crest is nearly flat in 7th but go as straight
as you can, or better turn early and avoid the kerb, then quickly drop to 5th
for the next bit.

Adenauer Forst (Adenau Forest)
------------------------------
T3 1'12.189 

Dab 5th - right - brake-4-left-3 - early left - right - 4th - exit flat 5-6-7

Keep your revs steady in 5th for the right, hugging the kerb
without touching it, then as the track straightens drop to 3rd (purple
graffiti works for me) to prepare for the "newbie corner" bit.  Avoid
braking too late since a really good final exit is more important.  Turn
left at the yellow graffiti line and you should be set up for the right. I also
find that jumping the kerb for the right turn rarely improves my time as much
as just keeping all four wheels on the pavement.  If you are patient and focus
on setting up early throttle for the right and a good exit, it's a lot easier
to find time here.

You should be well into 5th gear as you pass the section timer.  I've seen a
1'11.999 here before, so there's more time to find again later.  Continue
accelerating flat out into 7th for the next section.

Metzgesfeld (Metzge's Field)
----------------------------

Flat - left - brake-6-5-4 - left - 5th - right - 6th

This is another easy spot to lose control, so be very careful with your line
and try to stay off the kerb on the inside left.  There is more grip on the
outside of the turn but it's difficult to make that stick.  If you tend to spin
here, relax your turning arc sooner on the exit.  Keep it flat in 7th gear all
the way through the left, then brake down to 4th for the next left.  Again,
there is some white spray paint to help as a turn reference, but watch the
kerb and in 4th the throttle can be tricky at first (it's also very boggy if
you turn in too late).  5th gear by the right turn apex and down the hill.
You may reach 6th briefly before the next braking.

Kallenhard (Kallen Forest)
--------------------------

Brake-5-4-3 - right - 4-5-6

Let the car track left as you come down the hill, and you want to brake fairly
early and drop back to 3rd.  The kerb on the inside right is a good reference,
brake at its front edge.  Apex late but get on the inside until you can see
a clear exit, shift to 4th, and track to the outside.  Continue through 5th
and 6th as you approach the next scary section of the track.

Spiegelkurve (unofficial, "Mirror Curve")
-----------------------------------------

Flat 6th - left-right - sort out messy exit

Definitely my numero uno lap killers, Spiegelkurve and Miss-Hit-Miss.

This 6th gear left-right is brutal at high speed, and has made me blow
countless laps and do endless tweaking to the car.  The cambers shift violently
from left to right, almost like a side-to-side brow, so if you steer too hard
or take a bad line you will almost certainly spin out. Pass through as straight
as possible, with only minimal steering inputs.  I finally found a wide line
that also works but the entry has to be absolutely perfect in running close to
each kerb.  The idea is to look at the kerb for the right and all you have to 
do is just miss it.  I take this full throttle if I get it right, avoiding the
kerb but if I roll over it (and some grass), so be it.  Don't try to make any
wild corrections - it will already be too late and there's no grip to work
with.

"Miss-Hit-Miss" (also Drei Rechte, "Three Rights")
--------------------------------------------------

6th - bleed revs - miss - hit - flat 6th - miss - 7th

This is another place where the turns feel like they change on you so you don't
want to be accelerating and tightening your turning arc at the same time.  I
can leave it in 6th but right after the "hit" kerb it often tries to throw
the rear loose so there's a dab of the brake before it and some easing on the
steering afterward.  If you get the car to the right spot on the "hit" kerb
then you can keep the throttle flat for the exit without worrying about
the rear end.  Throttle hard down the straight in 7th.

Wehrseifen (Resistance Valley)
------------------------------
T4 1'45.091

Brake-6-5-right-4-3-2 - left - 3rd - right - 4th - exit - flat 5-6

This is a very slow corner where much time can be lost, so it's important
to be as accurate as possible.  I now combine all my downshifting into the
right turn to make sure I'm done braking by the turn-in at the last line of 
white paint.  If I go past this then I know I'm too deep and losing time.
Accelerate smoothly through 2nd and 3rd for the left and get into 4th for the
following right turn.  Pass the T4 section time in 5th and then 6th into the
next section.

Breidscheid
-----------

Right bend - brake-5-4 - double left watch the wall - 5th

Approach the right bend in 6th gear but start braking for the left somewhat
early - you want to be in 4th and close to the inside, and this is a corner
that will really mess you up if you are late (in real life there is a concrete
wall here, so we are talking serious damage).  The pavement is quite rough so
the exit is difficult to do with full throttle, and going too wide makes it
hard to set up the following right turn.  Get 5th on the exit and the car
will get some acceleration to the next bit.  Line the car up as straight as
you can leading to the next bit.

Ex-Muhle (Water Mill)
---------------------

Bumpy - early, light brake 4th - minimum speed, light power - right - flat 5-6

This section MUST be done delicately.  It is very bumpy so you'll find if you
time your turning and throttle with suspension compression it is a lot easier;
if you are out of sync you'll find sluggish turning and wheel spin.

Approach in 5th gear and brake lightly and early since it gets bumpy, uphill,
and off camber - the entry will understeer so use the graffiti and turn in
somewhat early, staying tight on the apex.  Little bit of crest here so
release your arc and get good throttle on the exit, but if you go too wide
it will take a while to get back on the power.  Also be careful accelerating up
the hill - you should get up to 5th before the crest but if you push too hard
you might get wheel spin and possibly lose the rear. Continue flat out through
6th gear into the next section.

Lauda Links
-----------

Flat 7th - left

In the Formula car there isn't much to this - stay hard on the throttle and you
should reach 7th gear near the apex, after which you can keep accelerating
down the hill and track a bit off to the left before the next section.

Bergwerk (Mine, literally "Mountain Work")
------------------------------------------

Brake-6-5-4 - right - flat 5-6-7

Similar to Ex-Muhle though not as delicate, this is one of the most important
corners for getting a strong exit.  This corner's odd shape and weird camber
make most attempts to brake late end in understeer followed by tracking wide
into the Armco - usually I use the green sign on the right as a reference,
braking at or just after it.  Brake consistently to 4th, and though this is
a late apex corner, the entry is a bit earlier than you may think because of
the uphill and the camber.  Work the throttle patiently and get a good exit.
This will give you good speed up the hill into one of the longer flat-out
sections of the track.

Kesselchen (Little Valley, "Little Bottom")
-------------------------------------------
T5 2'10.057

Flat 7th - left-left-left-left, left, right, right-left

The Formula car easily takes this flat all the way through.  There is a series
of left bends where you should reach 7th gear.  The next right curves are quite
bumpy, which is one place where stability control can freak out and careen you
into the Armco.  After this there is a quick right-left, so try to miss-hit the
split kerbs on the right, then just touch the edge of the kerb on the left. Aim
for a straight line that will put you on the kerb up close to the Armco at the
right edge, and brace for the next section.

Mutkurve (Courage Curve, also Angstkurve, "Fear curve") 
-------------------------------------------------------
T6 2'27.492

Flat 7th - double left

This left hander is another spot where it is very easy to push too hard and
lose the rear end, and was another contributor to my zero toe setting in
practice. Take this flat and be very careful with your line, and stay
close to the kerb on the inside left, then ease off the wheel just as the car
tracks through to the kerb on the outside right where you think you'll end
up on the grass.

Klostertal (Convent Valley)
---------------------------
(Top speed: 224mph TT, 212mph GT)

Flat 7th - left - early right - crest - relaxed exit

This is yet another place where it is easy to spin out if you turn too hard
on a bad line, so turn right early with some anticipation of where the kerb
appears, and then ease off the wheel on the exit, and the car should remain
relatively stable.

Steilstrecke (Steep Stretch)
----------------------------

BRAKE-6-5-4-3 - double right - 4th - exit - 5-6

This tight curve is hidden by a crest that you will go over flat out, then
brake just before the kerb on the left drop to 3rd.  This is another curve
that has a couple of apexes, and it seems best to enter in 3rd gear and be
up to 4th passing the second apex.  There are gentle bends leading to the next
section but you can easily go straight and keep accelerating, just reaching
6th gear before dropping hard back to 3rd again.  There is a particular
shadow that protrudes from the right which I use as a reference.

Karussell
---------

Brake-5-4-3 - long left - exit - two rights flat 4-5-6-7

You can make or lose a lot of time here because of how slow and long it is.

This tight banked corner is easiest if you keep the car inside but not all the
way to the kerb, and keep the revs steady in 3rd, around 62mph, until you reach
a patch of graffiti where you can start accelerating if your car is still in
the banking.  Pop over the last corner stone and start throttling hard toward
the next section.

Hohe Acht (High Lookout, after the hut)
---------------------------------------
T7 3'00.932

Left - brake-6-5 - left - right - throttle to 6th - Brake-5-4 - right - 5-6

You should be high in 6th gear, after exiting Karussell and passing the tricky 
left-hander flat out - sometimes I get 7th before dropping to 5th for the
tight left-right toward the summit.  This is a little like a less severe
Spiegelkurve that is uphill - don't turn too hard since the cambers pull the
car to the left on entry.  Gas steady for the left so you can set up a good
line for the right.  Try to have a patient bit of throttle but sometimes you
may need a small dab of brake to get the car to turn right and over the crest.
For the final downhill right turn you want to brake early down to 4th and
stay tight on the inside so you can be back on the throttle hard at
the apex. Then a gentle left bend in 5th and up to 6th.

Hedwigshohe (Hedwig's Height)
-----------------------------

Left - Flat 6th right - light brake 6th - left

Believe it or not you can take this flat in 6th if you get the right line, but
you have to keep the car steady and smooth on the steering before you tap the
brake at the exit and drop revs for the next curve.  Getting this wrong will
totally blow your balance into...

Wipperman (Seesaw Man)
----------------------

Left - downhill right - 6th - Brake-5 - uphill right

This spot is an easy place to lose it because of the abrupt way that it goes
downhill, and when I went to the real track we saw an accident here. This
tricky left-right gets a bit snappy and has a tendency to toss you right off
the track, so you'll find is a lot easier in the Formula if you concentrate
on keeping the car balanced.  Usually I avoid the kerbs and just be patient
- if I keep 6th then there's not much throttle but sometimes I need 5th to get
the car to turn.  As you approach the next hill avoid braking too late since
it will cause understeer that will probably put you on the grass as you go
over the crest.  I stay in 5th and turn a little earlier, then come up the
hill staying tight on the inside and reaching 6th starting downhill for the
next section.

Eschbach (Ash Brook)
--------------------

Brake-5-4 - double left - 5th

Brake somewhat early to drop back to 4th for the downhill double left
hander, which is another part where it is easy to lose the rear.  Wait for
the car to settle between apexes before you shift to 5th gear for the second
apex.  Then it's back to 4th for the next section.

Brunnchen (Little Well)
-----------------------

Brake-4th - right - 5th - brake-4th - right - 5th

This is another dance between 4th and 5th gears.  The first right hander is
very easy to overcook as it is downhill, and very often you will find yourself
all the way to the left on the exit, almost into the grass.  If you can keep
just the left wheels on the kerb you will still be able to get good throttle
in 5th before the next right, again dropping to 4th for the turn and back to
5th as the car tracks to the outside of the exit (but be especially careful
here, the sand will lose you a lot of time).  There is a certain melody
with the revs, dropping to 4th slightly lower each time.

Eiskurve (Ice Curve)
--------------------
T8 3'28.115

Brake-4th - early left - 5th through right - 6-7

This left-hander is again taken in 4th, but it seems longer and goes into a
tricky right hander on the exit.  I've started braking earlier (using the white
graffiti as a turn-in reference - again like Wehrseifen, if you find the left
is difficult to make it means you're too deep) so I can use more throttle.  The
pavement also crowns and is really slippery (hence the name), so stay in the
middle of the pavement as you accelerate into 5th and 6th gears for the next
section.

Pflanzgarten 1 (Plant Garden)
-----------------------------

Flat 7th - gentle brake - over crest STRAIGHT - settle-dab-6th-double right

The wavy left-right can be taken flat, sticking to the basics but ending
up slightly to the left as you go over the little jump at the bottom before the
rather difficult double right-hander.  The crest is a spot where the car loves
to leap sideways if you're not careful - I stopped using RSS tires mainly due
to all the times this happened here.  The trick is similar to Ex-Muhle in that
your braking must be delicate, and as you go over the crest you don't want to
brake or throttle - I listen for the car to go quiet here.  Then a dab to 6th
gear for the right.  Keep accelerating but of course be as smooth as possible
as you sweep through the double right toward the next part.  Your exit here
can make or lose considerable time all the way to Schwalbenschwanz.

Sprunghugel (Leap Hill)
------------------------

Flat - left - 7th before exit - go STRAIGHT over left side of drop

This first left is another easy place to mess up and not be in the right
position to track to the rumble strip on the right side of the exit.  It is
vital to keep hard on the throttle in 6th and try to get into 7th gear before
going over the crest, staying to the left while going as straight as possible.
This drop can be extremely unsettling to the car at this speed so again, go
over it as straight as you can.  Heading into the next section is where your
interplay between steering and throttle should be very careful.  Stay away from
the kerbs in this area.

Pflanzgarten 2
--------------
T9 3'41.085
(Top speed: 228mph TT, 215mph GT)

Flat 7th - hook up with dark inside patches - right, left-right, left

This section is flat out in 7th and can be quite terrifying at this speed,
since it is extremely easy to lose control if you try too hard to steer into
the curves of the track.  The dark patches on the insides of the bends will
help so you won't have to steer so hard.  Watch out for crowned pavement
again in this section, at this speed it is not at all forgiving, and bumpy
as well so be careful with your steering inputs and try to stay in the center
of it, especially at the end where there is some braking to make the right
turn.  Of anywhere on the track, I think this section is most important
not to grip the wheel too hard, you need to be able to feel the feedback
of every little nuance and almost use your hands to absorb some of it.

Schwalbenschwanz (Swallow Tail)
-------------------------------

Flat 7th - dab - right - brake-6-5-4 - left - 5th

This section gets slippery, and once you start sliding it can get very ugly no
matter what attempts to brake/downshift/countersteer you use.  I do this in 
7th now but it takes a lot of commitment and finesse (meaning it is now
way up there on most-likely-to-kill-lap).  The trick is dab and turn early,
get inside near the kerb and smoothly relax the exit.  Staying perched on
the center of the crowning helps the balance a lot.  There's just not a lot
of room for error and the tarmac is not forgiving either.  Do it correctly 
and it will shave quite a lot of time.  Then brake quickly to 4th for the left
turn-in.  Again there is useful graffiti to help you find good brake, apex,
and exit points.  5th gear as you head on to the next part.

Kleinekarussell (Little Karussell)
----------------------------------

Brake-4-3 - drop into banking left - shift 4th while popping out - flat 5-6

It's all too easy to underestimate this important corner.  But since it is
flat from here on, it's crucial to do this well.  Approach in 5th and
there is a change in the pavement that leaves a nice line for a braking
reference, to 3rd.  Drop about half the car inside and try to shift
to 4th just as you pop out over the right corner of the last paving block.
Continue through 5th, and into 6th for the approach to the next corner.

Galgenkopf (Gallow Hill)
------------------------

Flat 6th - don't touch kerbs - right - right - 7th - right relaxed - exit

This is my other lap killer, but being at the end means less opportunity,
but more frustration potential ;)  Like many corners, this is not forgiving
at all, and any fear or hesitation or lack of commitment will be severely
punished.

The trick is getting the right hand apex - you definitely do not want to hit
the kerb as you will almost certainly bounce and crash into the Armco, but if
you go the slightest bit too wide you will not stay on the track.  If you're
feeling brave you can do this flat out, but your line must be perfect.  There
is a line of graffiti that I tend to think of as my turn in point, but mostly
I stare at the inside kerb and try to miss it by a hair.  Keep some turn on
since the outside edge keeps coming in on you.  Try to anticipate the kerb
for the second right hander, keep it in 6th even if you redline, and start 
letting the car track left just at the point where the rear tries to break
away.  7th once the car settles into the exit. You'll pass under the Gantry
and receive your T10 section time.

Dottinger Hohe (Dottingen High)
-------------------------------
T10 4'07.640

Flat 7th - looooong straight

Not much to this - keep it flat in 7th and stick just off center to the right.
The car should be reaching top speed as you start on the incline before the
bridge, let the car go all the way right...

Antoniusbuche (Antonius' Beech)
-------------------------------
T11 4'24.725

Flat 7th - left - down hill

Turn early and ease through the left hander, totally wide open.  You will get
the T11 section time as you pass under the bridge.  Keep it flat out down the
hill...

Tiergarten (Animal Garden)
--------------------------
(Top speed: 230mph TT, 216mph GT)

Flat 7th - left-right

This section near the end leads to a left-right that you can take flat out in
the Formula car, so don't lift or anything, just stick to the basics and go as
fast as you can.  Once you clear the right and are going straight, immediately
drop to 6th for the final section...

Hohenrain (Raised Boundary)
---------------------------
L1 4'40.824

Brake-6th-left-5-4-3 - right-4th-left - brake - 3rd - right - 4-5

I enter this left while braking down all in one motion...

Cut to the inside left while braking into 6th, straighten and drop quickly 
down to 3rd for the right hander of the chicane, keeping the revs high but
steady since this corner is an easy place to spoil what might have been a
stellar lap time.  I stay off the kerbs and shift to 4th just after the apex
of the right, going into the left with full throttle. Brake to 3rd and get
ready for the final right-hander.  The pavement has a line in it that is a
good reference for braking and turn-in. Aim for the Armco at the apex and just
miss it - don't go too wide as you make your last effort at throttling hard
up the hill to the finish.  You should just make 5th gear as you cross
and get your final lap time.


===============
Looking Forward
===============

"The Perfect Lap" - that elusive goal that we always try to reach.  It's
always interesting to compare a new best time to an old one and see how
a 13-mile track leaves so many places to make mistakes, or at least lose
time by being too conservative through difficult areas.  Broken down into
sectors, one doesn't always improve at every split, and even if the total
time is faster, the lead you have built often fluctuates.  Imagine then,
what might happen if you built a composite time based on the best sector
times, to see what the car is capable of based on your own abilities at
that moment.  

I was way too conservative in the last two sections and lost .7, so I'm sure
the car is capable of a low 4'40 or 4'39.  I'll find out the same time as I
find more patience to try another arcade time attack...

==========================
Addendum 1 - racing setups
==========================

Everything changes once you add in fuel load and tire wear.  Ever since I
switched back to the DFP wheel I've found I'm a little less tolerant of
harder suspensions, probably because the pedals are so light and I tend
to push the gas harder.  It might also be because the G25 wheel feedback is a 
little rubbery while the DFP seems stronger.  Maybe I just miss the Formula
2000 car with the small steering wheel and no power steering.

One evolution I had to go through was getting so fed up with the twitchy
handling that I started racing with the car set as soft as the springs go
(10.0) and then working from there to find lines that were smoother, shorter
and quicker.  I put up with the different way the wheel feels when the car
is heavy or light on fuel and if the tires are good or spent, and try not
to focus on the car so much as the driving.  I removed the softer
rear shock setting and tried to get the car back to neutral, rather than
artificially induced understeer in certain situations.  The softer springs
help with tire wear, but mostly that is from more accurate driving and
essentially a shorter lap (without necessarily pushing harder), meaning if
I get to the end and the tires are gone, I've been too aggressive and 
sloppy.

Setup for 2-lap Family Cup (heavy fuel)
---------------------------------------
When I do FC races I set it to difficulty 10, which basically gives you a
bunch of Group C cars (not much of a challenge).  Generally you'll pass them
all in Hatzenbach-Hocheichen; by Quiddelbacher Hohe you're gone.  But, where
you decide to pass them makes a difference, and you'll want clean passes in
order to make it to T1 at around 38 or 39 seconds.

Suspension: springs 10.4; height 62; compression 5; toe 0
Gear ratios: auto 17, 5th 2.003, 6th 1.666, 7th 1.440
Aids: none
Diff: 11, 42, 23

Best 2-lap Family Cup: 9'59.355

Fastest Family Cup L1: 5'02.230 (2-lap: 9'59.355)
Fastest Family Cup L2: 4'55.854 (2-lap: 9'59.777)

Setup for 15-lap Formula race
-----------------------------
Again, I got weary of having the car feel ok in the first few laps but then
behave unpredictably later in the race as the fuel burned down.  I finally
decided to go back to a nice comfortable neutral setup and instantly found
it felt good on the DFP rig, and easily reset all my personal bests for
the 15-lap race. These days I usually can lap all the other cars twice by the
end of L14, putting me in the clear for a flying lap at the end.  

Whatever you use, remember that you will spend most of the race on low fuel,
you just have to get through the first 4 laps heavy, so the setup should be
geared more for when the car is lighter.

Setup: 10.4 springs, height 64, compression 4, rear toe 0;
Gear ratios, diff: same as FC setup

Best finish: 1:16'48
Best L1: 5'03.000
Best out lap: 4'56.538
Best flying lap: 4'52.4 (L15)

Notes on pit strategy for 15-lap
--------------------------------
1 lap of fuel is approx. 15 units; but I've run out before the end of
2 laps after leaving the pit with 30 so I always fill to 31 units for 2 laps.
However, if you get 30 by accident, you can save fuel by coasting and short
shifting a little (this has worked for me and barely affected the lap time).

Tires only last about 2 laps so when you do your first two pit stops
you won't need fuel.  And, the odd number of laps comes into play. You
may want to try an out-in lap with very light fuel (16) and new tires... lap
5 or 7 could be a good time for this.  I've even tried pitting early on
lap 1 so I can use up my tires when I'm heavy on fuel.  I think it probably
works better to do the out-in on light fuel though.

I usually try to get my best time on the final flying lap 15 but you have to
push hard to make this strategy work and avoid running into lapped traffic
again here...

==============================
Addendum 2 - sub-5'00 examples
==============================

Time: 4'56.646 (best time with setup 1.3)

T1 0'31.758  T7 3'11.342
T2 0'55.767  T8 3'39.820
T3 1'16.206  T9 3'53.759
T4 1'51.748 T10 4'22.256
T5 2'18.054 T11 4'40.336
T6 2'36.598  L1 4'56.646

Susp. 10.8, 10.9; 64, 64; 7, 7; toe 0
Trans. 18; 2nd 4.518, 3rd 3.287, 4th 2.489
           5th 1.960, 6th 1.609, 7th 1.374
Aids off

Note: using LFB


Time: 4'57.962 (best time with setup 1.1)

T1 0'31.598  T7 3'11.343
T2 0'55.547  T8 3'40.777
T3 1'16.218  T9 3'54.733
T4 1'51.673 T10 4'23.469
T5 2'18.496 T11 4'41.586
T6 2'37.084  L1 4'57.962

Susp. 12.9, 12.9; 62, 62; 4, 4; toe 0
Trans. 18; 2nd 4.522, 3rd 3.289, 4th 2.492
Aids off


Time: 4'59.275 (time reported in version 1.0)

T1 0'31.559  T7 3'12.465
T2 0'55.579  T8 3'42.141
T3 1'16.244  T9 3'56.346
T4 1'51.888 T10 4'24.620
T5 2'18.699 T11 4'42.841
T6 2'37.313  L1 4'59.275

Settings modified from defaults (version 1.0):
Suspension
Spring rate: 13.2, 13.2
Ride height: 62, 62
Compression: 4, 4
Toe: 0, 0

Transmission: manual, gear ratio level 18

Driving aids: 0, 0, 0

===========================
Addendum 3 - lap milestones
===========================

Most people's advice is absolutely correct: that it takes about 100
laps just to consider oneself minimally familiar with the track.  But
refining from there can take exponentially more practice... It's funny to
see that I dropped 30 seconds in the first 300 laps or so after the base
time, but then it took over 3000 laps to drop another 10 seconds.  Lately,
every 100-200 laps I do yields another half-second improvement (not all in
the formula car of course).

This is all a-spec only, and of course I don't count any pesky late-nite
frustrating partial spin-and-bounce-off-Armco-screw-this-hit-restart laps
(even if I wipe out at Galgenkopf).

Feel free to skip this section if you like, it's mainly for me (again
I don't claim to have the fastest times, these are just my personal bests).
I think I'm kinda slow for having done so many laps, but this is the main
track where I develop my skill and I'm still learning...

Lap   85: New record practice - 5'29.297
Lap  100: Family cup time - 5'26.672
Lap  185: Beat Mission 34 - 9'12.394
Lap  262: First a-spec win, Formula GT 15-lap - 5'16.026
Lap  270: Broke 5'10 in practice - 5'09.297
Lap  400: Made 5'00 in practice - 5'00.897
Lap  410: Break 5'00 in practice - 4'59.715
Lap  431: Break 5'10 in Formula GT 15-lap - 5'07.514
Lap  600: Visited Nurburgring in person in August 2007
Lap  660: Made 4'55 in practice - 4'55.491
Lap  800: Made 5'00 in Formula GT 15-lap - 5'00.871
Lap  975: Break 4'55 in practice - 4'54.708
Lap 1000: New record practice - 4'54.582
Lap 1050: New record arcade - 4'50.158
Lap 1190: New record practice - 4'54.308
Lap 1241: New record arcade - 4'46.479
Lap 1363: Break 5'00 in Formula GT 15-lap - 4'59.048
Lap 1471: New record arcade - 4'45.815
Lap 2088: Break 78-minute Formula GT 15-lap - 1:17'57.249
Lap 2141: New record practice - 4'53.738
Lap 2163: New record arcade - 4'44.043
Lap 2217: New record 15-lap Formula GT - 1:17'39.119
Lap 2334: New record practice - 4'53.088
Lap 2406: New record arcade - 4'43.547
Lap 2686: New record arcade - 4'42.543
Lap 2758: New record practice - 4'51.710
Lap 2797: New record 15-lap Formula GT - 1:17'19.539
Lap 2930: New record arcade - 4'41.769
Lap 3002: New fastest flying L15 Formula GT - 4'53.939
Lap 3068: New record practice - 4'50.645
Lap 3090: Break 77-minute Formula GT 15-lap - 1:16'55.246
Lap 3138: New record arcace - 4'40.993
Lap 3190: New record practice - 4'50.298
Lap 3384: New record practice - 4'49.782
Lap 3537: New record practice - 4'49.293
Lap 3660: New record arcade - 4'40.824
Lap 3672: New record practice - 4'48.974
Lap 3767: Combined GT4/NFS Shift Nordschleife laps: 4000
Lap 3881: Latest lap count


============================
Addendum 4 - experimentation
============================

Balance and traction are two elements that always lead me to tinker with
the car setup in the eternal quest for going faster.  Frustration be damned,
I always hope that the changes won't require much adjustment to driving
style, and will somehow just magically "feel better" which will in turn
produce more confident driving and thus faster lap times.  Of course,
with such a long track it still takes a relatively long time to adjust 
entirely and actually get a lap with few enough mistakes to break a record.
Muscle memory is a funny thing, and often you can play forever on a late
night and never even complete a full lap, go to bed frustrated, then wake
up the next day and nail it in two or three tries.

Suspension settings always seem to be the place I'm fiddling with to try and
get better balance and traction.  Spring rates are naturally a big area - on
bumpy courses like the Nurburgring it can be very difficult to get the right
setting.  The spectrum is of course: Too hard, lose traction from bouncing;
too soft, lose traction from poor contact.  Also, the softer the springs, the
slower the car reacts and the easier it is for your correction timing to be
off.  Also, shock absorber (damper) compression frequently comes into play -
there are several combinations of springs and dampers that will feel roughly
equal in the steering wheel but will have subtle but different effects on
handling.  The quest for mechanical grip is just endless, but I'm always hoping
to refine my driving style so I can tolerate a stiffer suspension and still
drive the same lines and ride the kerbs whenever I need to as I would in any
other car.

The other area I decided to fiddle with is the interaction of front downforce
with rear toe.  The idea was to gain some handling through lower speed corners
while taking away some nervousness through high-speed corners.  I think I was
also going for a more even tire wear during family cup races, although I'm
not sure if it made a big difference.  Ultimately I had to abandon this
since it seemed to make the car handle unnaturally through medium speed
corners (imagine the feeling of simultaneous understeer and oversteer),
which make up a large part of the 'ring.

Gearing is another area to tinker with, since the wrong gearing can really
make a car feel undriveable on a particular track.  Usually the adjustment
is specific to particular corners where I keep hitting the limiter.  However
I notice that you can also get different effects with how the individual gear
ratios are, or by adjusting the final gear.  Before I would leave the
final on its default, but now I'm trying leaving the auto 16 default and 
adjusting the final based on each track.  So far it is interesting, capable
of quick times with a stable car (along with a diff adjustment).

I often tend to play with the limited-slip diff, which I use to adjust
the balance without the adverse effects of using the suspension
for this (snappy rear, etc).  For a fun experiment, try doing a lap with
all three set as low as possible (5) and then do another lap with all three
at the maximum (60).  Essentially, adjust the initial torque so the car turns
as you like with normal speed; adjust the deceleration torque for corner
approaches, and acceleration for corner exits.  Bear in mind that when you
slam on the brakes the car is much more eager to turn just because of weight
transfer, so you want a certain balance between the initial and deceleration
settings, and between deceleration and acceleration settings so that you
balance a good turn-in with not sliding off the exit on full power.

One last experiment involved the weight balance - it seemed to help my practice
setup but I have not got it to work right for actual racing (with fuel and tire
wear).  You may get more use out of it than I did.

==================================
Addendum 5 - real-life lap records
==================================

6'11.13 - Stefan Bellof's time stands to this day as the lap record
at the Nordschleife.  All of the top fastest times were set during
qualifying in the 1983 Sports Car Championships, the final year that
series ran on the Nordschleife, by drivers of the Porsche 956.  If you
have the Porsche 956 In-Car dvd, you are basically viewing the 5th
fastest lap at around 6'41, but as Derek Bell was Bellof's partner in
that race, the car he is driving was the car that set the world record.
As funny as it is when Bell refers to Jackie Ickx who passes him at
Aremberg on a "fast lap", he's still talking about a 26-second
difference in pace. Pretty cool to see some of the names in this
historic starting grid...

1. 6'11.13: Bellof/Bell Rothmans #2
2. 6'16.85: Ickx/Mass Rothmans #1
3. 6'31.59: Wollek/Johansson Joest
4. 6'39.52: Rosberg/Lammers Canon
5. 6'41.17: Patrese/Alboreto Lancia Martini
6. 6'42.1: Fitzpatrick/Hobbes JDavid

===========================
How many corners are there?
===========================

107, in my opinion - not including the GP circuit of course.

I have heard many different counts over the years from dvds, online,
or elsewhere.  I've heard numbers in the 70s all the way to 173.  I can
understand the low numbers but I do wonder how they got the high counts
even if you included the GP circuit.  It's easy to underestimate a bend
if you are going slow enough, but even in an F1 car I don't see where
the numbers could have gone so high unless you start numbering by
some arbitrary angle size. 

When I sat down and counted, both on a slow recon lap followed by a
quick lap to double-check, I considered what changes of direction
required significant steering inputs, and my count is 107 corners.
I hope if you went through my guide to count the lefts and rights,
you will find the same number.

==================
Thanks for reading
==================

There you have it!  I must say it took a huge number of attempts on each day
that I actually moved my time. If you've ever seen a Formula 1 practice session
you know that the drivers will go off or spin out fairly often while they are
trying to push hard and find the absolute limit of the car, track, and their
skill on that day.  It is amazing how you can do better or worse in completely
different sections and end up with an almost identical time.  As heartbreaking
as it is to have a lapse of concentration that destroys what could have been a
huge lead over your previous best time, try to remember that it is difficult
to push the limit that you already achieved by pushing your limit.  It's never
going to be perfect - sometimes when you update your time splits some of them
may move forward instead of back.  It's nice to know you can go faster in the
initial sectors, but what counts is how they add up at the end.

Determination is one of the more important qualities of racing so stay loose,
and don't let yourself get angry or frustrated, since this will only make you
race even worse (unless you want the exercise of racing angry and trying to
control it).  Relax, have fun, and you will be elated when the moment
finally happens.

Thanks for reading, I hope this has helped or entertained you
in some way!

++++++++++++