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

By Mike Kimball
Version 1.5, February 15, 2008

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

Copyright Notice
Contact The Author
Foreword
Acknowledgements
Version Updates
The Car
Game Equipment
Shoes - On or Off?
Left-Foot Braking
Driving Tips That Have Helped Me Go Faster
Nordschleife - Step by Step
  (Includes all section names and time splits)
Addendum 1 - racing setup
Addendum 2 - sub-5'00 examples
Addendum 3 - lap milestones
Addendum 4 - experimentation

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

Copyright 2008 Mike Kimball
Intended for private, personal, and educational usage only.
Originally written to be displayed on www.gamefaqs.com.

May not be placed on any other web site or otherwise distributed
publicly without advance written permission.  (Or you can beg for
forgiveness later if you at least let me know you've posted it
somewhere.)

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

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

I welcome email regarding this guide.  Please note that my
anti-spam settings are high, so if you don't get a response, there is
a chance I didn't see your mail.  Try again and avoid flagged words
(you know what I mean).  Make sure you put something about this guide in the
subject.

Email: bloodmetalcontent@yahoo.com

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

First of all, I want to make clear that in no way should you take this guide as
a literal instruction of how to drive the Nordschleife with a real car in real
life.  Going this fast in real life may not be humanly possible, for all I
know.  This guide applies only to getting a fast lap time in Gran Turismo 4
under a very specific set of circumstances.

I went to the Nurburgring in late August 2007 at the end of a short
summer tour with my band.  By this time I had turned over 600 laps in the
game as well as watched many different dvds of in-car footage.  Although this
can give you a great familiarity with the track layout, nothing comes close
to the thrill of the real experience.  I took a co-driver lap in the Zakspeed
Viper Jet (a street-legal version of a race car that has won the 24-hour
Nurburgring race three times) - a beautiful and powerful car with 450hp and
crazy wide F285/R335 Pilot Sport tires.  Even with quite a lot of traffic we
went BTG in 8'20.  The g's in some corners were intense.  I had the time of
my life but at the same time I could see how easy it would be to become
overconfident in a fast street car and end up getting caught out quite badly.

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.

================
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.  As for other
acknowledgements, I must mention dvds from FIA Formula 1 2004-2006, 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.

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

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

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
=======

Start with a Formula Gran Turismo in your garage, or you can select one in
arcade mode.  If you are going for a best time, you want to use practice
or Time Trial mode, either of which allow you to race without fuel or tire
wear to worry about and also give you the option of having a ghost replay
of your best lap to use as a guide (although sometimes this is more of a 
distraction than a help since it's easy to watch the other car instead of
the apexes and reference points).

Incidentally, it came as a complete surprise when I actually surpassed my
best time, using arcade mode.  I thought the hard suspension would cancel out
even 1069hp and 495kg with RSS tires, but after some practice doing single
races, I tried again and in three laps went 4'59, 4'54, and 4'52.  Stunned.
With a little more practice I got down to the time reported here (4'50.158).

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.  I did it in the Formula car,
but I still say it's exceedingly difficult to cope with the hard suspension
and loose rear end, and you will be white-knuckling each jagged lap.

In the setups I used, most of the settings are on their defaults - in GT mode
I adjusted the suspension, transmission, brakes, and driving aids.  In arcade
mode you can only vaguely adjust the transmission by changing the top speed
in quick setup, along with the weight and power of the car, the tires, and 
driving aids.  For a single race challenge I often give the other cars RSS
tires while giving myself RSH tires, heavy weight, and low power, but for
time attack I do just the opposite.

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.

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 is the setup that currently produced my quickest time in
GT mode, and allows me to lap confidently and consistently in the 4'54
to 4'57 range:

Setting changes from default, GT mode:
--------------------------------------
Suspension
Spring rate: 12.0, 12.1
Ride height: 62, 62
Compression: 6, 6
Toe: 0, 0

Transmission
Manual
Gear ratios: auto 18
2nd: 4.523
3rd: 3.290
4th: 2.490
5th: 1.960
6th: 1.667
7th: 1.442

Brakes 4, 3

Driving aids: 0, 0, 0

Fastest time: 4'54.582

Setup notes:
------------
Brakes: I biased the front for stability on corner approaches.

Transmission: I tweak gears 2-4 to avoid hitting the rev limiter around
certain corners, and 6th and 7th are shortened for maximum acceleration to
the terminal velocity of the car.

Toe: Zeroed for cornering stability at high speeds.

Ride height: Hard to tell how much this matters but higher seems to help with
bumpy sections.

Springs and compression: By softening the suspension I am able to drive the
same lines as I would in any other car.

Setting changes from default, arcade mode:
------------------------------------------

RSS, MT, 390kph, +20% power, -10% weight, driving aids none

Fastest time: 4'50.158

Obviously the goal here is maximum grip and power, with the lightest car.
This setup approximates the gearing for GT mode but you still have to be
extremely careful with the throttle in gears 2-4, even more so than in
GT mode.  Overall the driving style is different to accommodate the hard
and loose suspension - earlier braking, more careful steering, more careful
throttle and brakes using the throttle to turn the car.  It gets very tricky
to go straight or even shift above 180mph because the wheel is shaking
so bad, and the car really bounces around above 220, so Kesselchen and
Schwedenkreuz are difficult, and even Fuchsrohe becomes rather nervous. Also
the spin-happy rear makes high-speed corners require a certain amount of
finesse, so you really have to work on your line and steer carefully.

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

If you are using the PS2 controller to drive the car, I can only say best of
luck.  It didn’t take me long to realize that with the controller it is
incredibly difficult to get the proper level of steering control as well as
throttle and brake.  At first I got the Logitech Driving Force Pro and a fairly
inexpensive chair and table, but I eventually was able to get the Sparco
cockpit and the G25 wheel, which have improved my game dramatically.  I also
only use the paddle shifters now - the stick shifter on the G25 is not
compatible with the Sparco cockpit so I can only mount it to the side, not a
place where it is useful.

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

My suggestion is use what you are comfortable with.  However, I can definitely
say racing with bare feet causes me to make the most mistakes, so I only do
this when I’m lazy.  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.  As for shoes - I wear Adidas Adi Racer Goodyear shoes,
which work quite well, and within a few laps I was able to get a lap time of
5’01, so maybe with practice they would work just as well as socks.  With shoes
the application of throttle and brake becomes slightly smoother, so in a way it
acts as some measure of traction control and stability management.

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

Many drivers say this skill is indispensable in racing - and both carting and
Formula 1 pretty much require it.  Obviously there is still going to be a
need to right-foot brake, but in situations where no gear shift is needed or
when there is no clutch operation, left-foot braking can add a lot of stability
by eliminating the "coasting" time where the right foot switches pedals, as
well as the inherent delay to braking reaction time.  I myself have been
practicing this extensively both in the game as well as driving my own car.
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). 

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

First, my time is not the fastest - from what I have read on the internet,
someone has gone as fast as 4’48.  Matching the record time seems difficult
when you are already racing at your limit, but I still remember being stuck
at 5’23.  The tricky part is 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.

Frequently the way to make a breakthrough is to drive a different car for a
while.  Some other cars I enjoy driving at the Nordschleife are: Ford GT40
Race Car, Lotus Elise, Mercedes SLR McLaren, and the Nissan R89C.  The
different handling capabilities of another car can force you to approach
corners differently, and can also point out some bad habits you may have.
Slower cars let you focus harder on your racing line, and can make the
the Formula car seem so much lower, wider, and more grippy than before.

Next, I believe firmly in the advice of Skip Barber, who emphasizes the
importance of exits from corners over late braking.  Obviously I brake as late
as I can, but braking later improves your time in hundredths of a second, while
getting on the throttle earlier for the exit improves your time in tenths.
Also, the Formula car handles best when you have your foot on the throttle.
Braking earlier is also safer, since all you lose if you brake too early is
time, but braking too late could lose you much more.

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. Aggressive driving is often useful in racing, but
for time attack you want to be as smooth as possible.

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.  In most of the sections that have given me trouble, this was the
aspect to which I was not giving enough consideration.

Finally, one trick I often use on corner exits is to shift up early if I seem
to be tracking a little too wide - this causes a condition not unlike a
throttle lift-off, which makes the car suddenly cut inside a little.  A quick
upshift is often just the little push inside that I need to keep it on the
track and accelerating, without making huge steering corrections.  Shifting
up early is also a good way to control oversteer on the exits of corners, 
especially corners going downhill or over a brow.

As I said above the setup I'm using along with many laps of practice means
I feel more and more like it's just basic flowing lines, using as smooth and
steady inputs as I can manage, adjusting the acceleration for the shape of
each corner.  When you feel it, it is just magic.

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

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

My time splits below are listed as my fastest time, which happens to be in
arcade mode, then my fastest time in the opposite (GT) mode in parentheses.

T13 (0)
-------

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.  Watch out for understeer on entry, and then for oversteer
as you exit downhill.  I widened 2nd and 3rd gears mainly for this corner.

You should reach 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 and keep it flat and
steady, maybe squeeze out of the wheel a tiny bit on the exit.  You should be
able to reach 7th gear before you brake for the next section.  Drop down to 5th
gear and track carefully to the right edge.

Hatzenbach
----------

Take the first left with a brief throttle in 5th gear, then brake into 4th so
you can throttle through the right.  Back up to 5th for the next left,
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
----------

This corner made me start examining my ride height.  As you approach the
first right, brake fairly early down to 3rd gear, and be especially careful on
the throttle as you go over the crest as straight as you can, try to get into
4th before the left, and let the car track to the right edge on exit.  Flat out
from here to the next section.

Quiddelbacher Hohe
T1 0'30.739 (0'31.596)
----------------------
This section is flat out but bumpy, so it is one place where stability
management tends to freak out and stiff suspensions get nervous.  Stick to the
basics and you should be able to reach 7th gear before the brutal crest
at the start of the next section.

Flugplatz
---------

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.  You should be able to keep the throttle wide open in
7th gear if you take the corner smooth enough.  Barely touch the first apex,
and you should be able to come around the second one without changing your
steering or throttle.  Keep the car settled and reaching around 206mph as you
approach the first of the gentle left bends into the next section.

Schwedenkreuz
(Top speed 232mph TT, 219mph GT)
--------------------------------

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 the Formula car
seems to be one of the few that can do this at 219mph.  One mistake is hitting
the inside curb which will really throw off your balance.  Try to make the car
track slightly left of center as you brake hard down to 3rd into the next
section.

Aremberg
T2 0'53.673 (0'55.492)
----------------------

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. Keep the revs high in 3rd as you turn in,
and try to shift into 4th a little before the exit, and try to aim for a
straight line for good acceleration on the exit toward the bridge.

Fuchsrohre
----------

Drive through the bends as straight as you can, touching each curb, 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 get ready to dance as you shift to 6th, turn in for the left over the
curb as straight as you can with the throttle steady and revs high, then drop
to 5th and again back on the throttle, revs steady for the right. Hug the curb
without actually hitting it, then as the track straightens drop to 3rd to
prepare for the next section.

Adenauer Forst
T3 1'13.725 (1'16.075)
----------------------

This section is wonderful for going off the track or spinning out.  I used to
have trouble at this spot fairly often - the trick is don't get tempted to
brake too late since it is more important to get a really good exit.  Turn
in early for the left and it should be fairly simple making the right.
You should be well into 4th gear as you pass the section timer.  Continue
accelerating flat out for the next section.

Metzgesfeld
-----------

This is another easy spot to lose control, so be very careful with your line
and try to stay off the curb on the inside left.  This can be taken flat
in 7th, then drop quick as you can to 3rd for the next hard left.  Get back
into 4th and pass the curb for the right turn, and into 5th as you
head down the hill into the next section.

Kallenhard
----------

Let the car track left as you come down the hill, and you want to brake fairly
early and drop back to 3rd.  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
------------

This left-right is absolutely brutal at high speed, and has made me blow
countless laps and do endless tweaking to the car.  This section led me to
soften up the springs to at least 13 so that I could stay in 6th gear.  The
tricky thing is getting the right line on the approach, with throttle on but
steady.  The cambers shift violently from left to right, almost like a side-
to-side brow, so it is very easy to steer too hard and spin out.  Pass through
as straight as possible, with only minimal steering inputs - don't take a wide
line.  Try to get some throttle before and after the right, avoiding the curb
but if you roll over it (and some grass), so be it.  Don't try to make any wild
corrections - it will already be way too late.

“Miss-Hit-Miss”
---------------

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" curb it always tries to throw
the rear loose so there's some braking before it and some easing on the
steering afterward.  Throttle hard down the straight, into 7th.

Wehrseifen
T4 1'48.288 (1'50.406)
----------------------

Little bit of dancing here.  Drop to 5th and gas a bit into the right turn,
then drop a little more slowly into 2nd for the left turn, apexing somewhat
late so you can get back on the throttle and into 3rd and 4th for the following
right turn.  Pass the T4 section time and keep accelerating up through 5th
and 6th into the next section.

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

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.

Ex-Muhle
--------

This section is also very rough.  If you are keeping things stable you should
be in 5th gear before the little hill - drop back down to 4th and try to brake
early since it is very bumpy and therefore traction really sucks - keep the
throttle easy around 100mph for the right turn and stay close to the apex or
you will go very wide at the exit.  Also be careful accelerating up the hill -
you should get up to 5th before the crest but if you push too hard you will get
wheel spin and possibly lose the rear.  Continue over the crest and down the
hill, where you should be reaching the top of 6th gear before the next section.

Lauda Kink
----------

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

Bergwerk
--------

This corner's odd shape and weird camber make most attempts to brake late
end in understeer followed by tracking wide into the Armco.  This is one of the
two most important corners as far as getting a strong exit so brake fairly
early to 4th, throttle toward the apex, lift, then throttle a bit before you
can see the exit.  This will give you good speed up the hill into one of the
longer flat-out sections of the track.

Kesselchen
T5 2'14.240 (2'16.707)
----------------------

The Formula car easily takes this flat all the way through.  The first main
left bend is the point where you should be in 7th gear already, or at least
shifting at its apex.  The next slight right curves are very bumpy, which is
one place where stability control will freak out and suddenly careen you into
the Armco.  After this there is a quick right-left, so try to miss-hit the
split curbs on the right, then just touch the edge of the curb on the left. Aim
for a straight line that will put you on the curb up close to the Armco at the
right edge, and brace for the next section.

Angstkurve
T6 2'31.637 (2'35.135)
----------------------

This left hander is another spot where it is very easy to push too hard and
lose the rear end, and I'm sure it was another contributor to my zero toe
setting.  It is possible to take this flat if you are very careful with your
line and stay close to the curb on the inside left, then ease off the wheel
just as the car tracks through to the curb on the outside right where you think
you'll end up on the grass.  Try to keep it at around 210mph and you should be
doing fine for the next section.

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

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

Steilstrecken
-------------

This tight curve is hidden by a crest that you will go over flat out, then
brake just before the curb on the left and start to track to the inside right
as you reach 4th and then 3rd.  This is another curve that has a couple of
apexes, and it seems like you will want to take the first in high 3rd gear
and be up to 4th past the second apex into the straight.  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.

Karussell
---------

This tight banked corner is easier to do correctly with the setup I used -
the trick is to keep the car as inside as you can but not spin toward the
middle, and keep the revs steady in 3rd, around 62mph, until you see where
you pop over the last corner stone and start throttling hard toward the
next section.

Hohe Acht
T7 3'06.028 (3'10.258)
----------------------

You should be high in 6th gear as you pass the first left-hander flat out,
before dropping to 5th for the tight left-right toward the summit.  Gas steady
for the left keeping tight on the apex and don't steer too hard or you will be
off the line for the right, which needs a small dab of brake to get the balance
right over the crest at the exit, getting the revs in 5th a little higher than
for the left.  For the final downhill right turn you want to brake early down
to 4th and get tight on the inside so you can be back on the throttle hard at
the exit. Take the gentle left bend into the next section in 5th and up to 6th.

Hedwigshohe
-----------

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
---------

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 downhill is a lot easier in the Formula if you concentrate on keeping
the car balanced, so in 6th gear try not to use too much curb for the left,
and then clip some curb on the right. As you approach the crest, drop quickly
to 4th for the next section.  It is uphill, so braking too late will cause 
understeer that will probably put you on the grass as you go over the crest.

Eschbach
--------

You should be in 4th with medium revs as you come over the hill into this right
hander, staying tight on the inside and hitting 5th as you start downhill on
the exit.  Brake somewhat early to drop back to 4th for the 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
---------

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 curb 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
T8 3'34.627 (3'38.720)
----------------------

This left-hander is again taken in 4th, but it seems longer and goes into a
tricky right hander on the exit.  Start and maintain lower revs at your
turn-in, and the line is something of a compromise.  The pavement also crowns
and is really easy to slide off to the left, so try to stay in the middle of
the pavement as you accelerate into 5th and 6th gears for the next section.

Pflanzgarten 1
--------------

This wavy little section 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.  It takes some confidence but keep it in
6th with just a dab of the brake before and after the crest and turn in to the
right.  Being in 6th already with medium revs will keep you accelerating
nicely, but of course be as smooth as possible and no sudden steering changes
as you head up the hill toward the next part.

Sprunghugel
-----------

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 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.

Pflanzgarten 2
T9 3'48.614 (3'52.374)
(Top speed: 212mph TT, 215mph GT)
---------------------------------

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.  Drop into the first couple of right turns at 200mph,
accelerating up to 212 or so by the end.  Again, try not to push too hard on
the throttle through here if you tend to work the steering; think of the
technique for cone slalom and you should get the idea of how to balance these
tricky curves while gaining speed.  When you finally exit this section onto the
straight, drop to 6th gear for the next bit.

Schwalbenschwanz
----------------

This section feels like some dancing again, and is another spot where I
frequently mess up either by overcooking the right, or by braking and turning
too late on the left and ending up in the sand (once you start sliding it
doesn't seem to matter how hard you brake and downshift).  6th works if you
concentrate on a smooth entry and gentle line, getting this right easily
dropped several tenths off my time. Then throttle for a beat on the straight,
then to 4th for the left turn-in.  Get 5th gear as you head on to the next
part, where you will drop carefully to 3rd and concentrate hard on your line.

Kleinekarussell
---------------

The "little karussell" is one place where I still mess up now and then, but
softer springs helps the car do this by dropping fully inside.  I do this in
3rd and if I happen to nail the exit, shift early to 4th and throttle
hard, through 5th, and into 6th as I approach the last really difficult part.
The phrase "stay calm" repeats in my head at this point.

Galgenkopf
T10 4'16.935 (4'20.253)
-----------------------

The trick is getting the right hand apex - you definitely do not want to hit
the curb 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.  Dab the
brakes in 6th and keep your throttle strong as you sweep over the bump at the
apex, throttle harder as soon as the car settles into the turn, then just lift
a bit when you see the track start to tighten to the right.  You can throttle
early as you track to the inside, and slowly accelerate and slide toward the
outside onto the straight. You should soon pass under the Gantry and receive
your T10 section time.

Dottinger Hohe
T11 4'34.005 (4'38.242)
-----------------------

Not much to this - keep it flat in 7th and stick just off center to the right.
The car should be reaching about 215mph as you start on the incline before the
bridge, let the car go all the way right and then turn early so you can 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 into the next
section.

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

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 two gears to 5th for the final section…

Hohenrain
L1 4'50.158 (4'54.582)
----------------------

I usually cut to the inside as much as I can for the left, and then drop from
5th 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.  Through the chicane I ride both kerbs, shifting to 4th
for some brief acceleration, then drop back to 3rd as I track left to get
ready for the final right-hander.  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.


=========================
Addendum 1 - racing setup
=========================

Recently I noticed that while my setup was great for practice, I could not
reliably lap with this setup in real racing conditions (in the Formula GT
or Family Cup races at Nurburgring).  What I needed was another setup that
made the car feel right during all phases of tire wear, fuel load, and
other factors that come into play when other cars are involved.

The following setup allows me to lap consistently, is somewhat forgiving
of mistakes, and is comfortable, responsive, and better on tire wear:

Brakes: 5, 4
Suspension: springs 11.1, 11.2; height 64, 64; compression 6, 6; toe 0
Transmission: same as practice setup
Aids: none
All others: default

Best time: 5'00.495 (out lap 14 in Formula GT)
Best out lap: see above
Best 2-lap battle: 10'14.188
Best 15-lap GT: 1:18'43.642 (+2 laps on 2 slowest backmarkers)

I was actually trying to get my best time on the final flying lap (which I
set up by pitting early on lap 9 after lapping all the other cars) but did
not do so.  An out lap easily adds 2-3 seconds...

==============================
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

Notes: bumped armco at Karussell, big slides at Brunnchen and Adenauer Forst,
some wheelspin errors.

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

Notes: lots of small errors but three major ones at Eschbach (grass),
Kleinekarussell (missed banking), and Galgenkopf (grass); somehow didn't
prove too costly in time.

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
===========================

Recently I decided to start counting just how many laps I've done at this
unbelievably challenging and enriching circuit.  I found it interesting
that 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...

Incidentally I do not count the 24-hour or 4-hour endurance races, or anything
else I b-spec'd, nor do I count a number of arcade laps that would be hard
to tally accurately (perhaps 40-50?) when I was going for maximum points
or just looking for new ways to challenge myself.  Or the dozen or so laps
at Ringhaus.  I started counting arcade laps only recently when going for
time attacks.  I also didn't count any of those pesky late-nite frustrating
partial spin-and-bounce-off-Armco-screw-this-hit-restart laps.

Lap   85 (est.): New record practice - 5'29.297
Lap  100 (est.): Family cup time - 5'26.672
Lap  185: Beat Mission 34 - 9'12.394
Lap  262: First honest 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 (est.): Visited Nurburgring for real 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


============================
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 I will sometimes play with, but less often and in
most instances it was more of a guess than anything.  Usually the adjustment
is specific to particular corners where I keep hitting the limiter.

==================
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.

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.  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!

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