I had not been to a Coppa Mille race for over a year, so I decided to attend the final race at Nurgburgring. Throughout the year several of my customers had upgraded their engine and gearbox packages and I wanted to see how they were doing.
I arrived at my normal hotel (Hotel Rieder in Wiesenschied) on the Thursday evening to find that the hotel had undergone a major renovation. However it still had the familiar family atmosphere. I had a nice dinner and settled in for a good night rest.
The following morning it was quite cold (-2C or 28F) as I waited for the defrosters to work on my rental car. The weather in the Eifel mountains can be quite tricky but the prediction was "cold but sunny" for the weekend.
The organizer, Klaus Kleber, had organized three F1 type pit boxes, so there was room to put between 36-40 cars inside. This made doing repairs quite a bit nicer. The same area also functioned well as a driver's briefing area.
Ready for qualifying to start
Practice and qualifying went well and without any great drama on Friday. Saturday morning saw slightly warmer temperatures and all competitors ready to go. The regular competitors were joined by 4 cars that normally compete in FIA organized touring car races in Holland, with the fastest of these being driven by David Verzijlbergen (son of driver and preparer Ron Verzijlbergen). This very light, narrow chassis DIv. 2 car (std Fiat head with 2 barrel and a 5 speed gearbox) was every bit as fast as the Div. 4 car of Bram Paardekoper ( PBS head with 4 speed). The race proved to be fairly uneventful, except for Andre Van Koeveringe in the front running Div 2 car, dropping out with what turned out to be a craked exhaust header (sounded like a rod going at first). He did manage to find someone with a portable TIG welder and the car was ready for the second race in the afternoon.
The photo above shows the "pre-grid" for the afternoon race. On the front row are David Verzijlbergen (FIA Holland) and Bram Paardekoper (DIv 4), followed immediately by Ingmar Kroschnik (Div4) and Andre Van Koeveringe (Div 2). The third row sees Thorsten Babon in the only Fiat Abarth 127 (Div 3). Not bad, as out of the first six cars, five are Scuderia Topolino customers (sixth car was a Mini).
In the race Bram and David had a fantastic race. David got the drop on Bram because of better gearing with the 5 speed, something that I had expected. As Bram's car was actually faster, I had advised Bram that if he ended up behind David, that he should just hold station and observe. David surely had a fast car, and was well coached by his very experienced father. He had one other thing going for him, namely intimidation. This allowed him to drive on the ragged edge, forcing Bram to leave room for the unexpected. My recommendation was to look for a spot on the track where David took a wider than normal line entering a corner. The idea was then to place his car in a position where it took away David's "preferred" natural line. This would give David two options. He could either try to somehow drive around Bram's car, or get forced off he side of the track. Well on lap three, around the 3 turn Bram was able to put his car in such a position as I had described. He passed David and at the end finished well ahead of he pack.
Ingmar Kroschnik finished a strong second in Div 4 behind Bram Paardekoper and Div 2 runner ,Andre Van Koeveringe, finished second behind organizer Klaus Kleber, having to deal with shifting problems with his gearbox. Andre still leads the Div 2 championship points and looks certain to take the title for the second year running.
Congratulations to all the competitors for a great race.