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Nurburgring Nordschleife Speed Guide - Gran Turismo 5
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By Mike Kimball
Version 1.0, December 6, 2010

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CONTENTS
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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/DF GT wheel)
Shoes - On or Off?
Left-Foot Braking
Driving Tips That Have Helped Me Go Faster

Nordschleife - Step by Step
  (Includes all corner names and old GT4 time splits)
Looking Forward

Addendum 1 - lap milestones
Addendum 2 - 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 think the fact that in GT5 you must unlock the Nordschleife by passing
the first two AMG Academy levels shows how serious they are about learning
Nordschleife safety.  I guess a few too many tourists thought they were as
fast as Michael Schumacher after a few dozen GT4 laps, and then pushed
too hard and cracked up their cars.  Many elements of the game (grip,
power, reliability, and especially braking) are inevitably 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 GT4 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 170 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
GT5, and who have, at the minimum, memorized the track.  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 1.0
- This guide adapted from my guide for GT4, version 2.5.


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

As of this first version of my GT5 Nurburgring guide, I've been playing
a little over 24 hours and GT5 has already proved that it is absolutely
epic, and is truly the game we have all been waiting for.  At this point
all I've done is complete the license tests and the first half of the
AMG Academy (I just wanted to unlock the Nordschleife and I figured
all golds would be a good start to get there and provide some cash and
experience points to get going).  I hope you will find this info useful
and I will certainly be adding to this guide frequently.

I'm thrilled to report that in GT5 the Formula Gran Turismo is available.
I hope that will mean it and other cars will still be capable of reaching
the 5-minute mark, but to be honest I've done just 9 laps in GT5, so I
have yet to try out the enormous volume of awesome cars that are now
included.  However, the McMerc SLS was easily able to reach 7'05 in
traffic, which is close to the same time the SLR used to do...
so we'll see.

I can also report on an arcade lap in the Zonda R: it is every bit of a
drama queen as it was in NFS:S and then some.  Great at understeering
on corner entries, oversteering wildly on corner exits, tankslapping...
Basically feels like you're always driving in the wet.  But it is quick,
if you can be very, very patient with your right foot.

Please note that I'm providing the previous info I was using in GT4 for
the Formula Gran Turismo, for what it's worth while I'm trying to work
toward actually acquiring and testing it in GT5.  I hope it helps.

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 GT4 Formula car setups and times for reference...

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

Personal best (GT4, Practice): 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 PS3 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 GT wheel
Logitech G25 pedals (modified, see below)
Sparco cockpit with a Sienna seat (reclined)

The Sparco cockpit and DF GT wheel will almost certainly improve your game
dramatically.  I've also had a G25 wheel, but it didn't last long considering
its price tag, and the paddles never worked so great... The DFP is still
great - it's heavier and smaller, but the DF GT is better if you are doing
any countersteering.  I think the Sparco cockpit is what makes the biggest
difference.  Anyway, the big weakness in the DF wheels is the pedals, which
are too light.  The pedals are great on the G25, but they aren't compatible
with the DFP wheel until you do some rewiring. I think you could also find
an adapter that does the same thing, so I would suggest trying that first.

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.


==================
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: Sadly a lot of the graffiti seems to be gone in GT5, but frequently
I look at the kerbs - front edges for braking points, back edges for turn
in points, etc.  There is still graffiti in some particular spots though,
so learn where this is - usually it marks particularly difficult corners
where you need to know the last possible spot to brake or turn in.

Remember also that the track is far more bumpy in GT5 than it was in GT4,
and the kerbs aren't as friendly either.  Or the cambers.  Or the corner
lines, or the undulations.  Basically way more places to cause mistakes.
If you've played NFS:S in the meantime between GT4 and now, you may have
some idea of where the track has changed (gaming-wise, thanks to the
greater capabilities of the PS3) more toward how the track actually is.
I think it's a good thing - after enough 5-minute laps you start to want
more tarmac detail to help slow things down to a more realistic level.

Again, the gearing is for the Formula Gran Turismo, however I noticed that
the McMerc SLS wasn't far off in its gearing apart from not hitting 7th
very often.  I tend to utilize its low end torque quite a bit.


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.

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 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 and give it some
gas toward the crest; shift to 4th before the left. This area is quite
slippery, but 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

Flat - over crest - right

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 

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

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  

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 to prepare for the
"newbie corner".  Avoid braking too late since a really good final exit is more
important.  Turn left early to set up 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.  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.  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

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 
help you recover.


"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 

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.  Get your braking done early - focus on
making a really good exit through the left and right.  Go too deep and
you'll only be 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

There's a concrete wall here for a reason.  Very easy to lose it here not
only by braking too late, but just generally from poor grip through the middle
of the corner - keep your rear end in check and try to be precise.

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.  The pavement is
not grippy and 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 

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

Easy to underestimate this section - it is much bumpier now.

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 

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

There's a big bump on the right here now, so you'll have to consider that
when establishing your line.

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 tree on the left 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.
However, I think the feel of the banking is much better here now.

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 see
the exit is close, 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 

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

Understeer then oversteer.  Great gallery point...

Brake somewhat early to drop back to 4th for the downhill double left
hander, which is another part where it is easy to miss the entry and/or
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.

Through here there are nice white bands of graffiti to help you find a good
braking point.

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 

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 braking 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.  The trick is similar to Ex-Muhle -
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

Not as much of a sudden drop as before...

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 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 

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

Messes up laps frequently.

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 - the tarmac is not forgiving, nor is the grass.  Do it
correctly and it will shave a lot of time.  Then brake quickly to 4th for
the left turn-in.  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

MUCH better than in GT4 or NFS:S.

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 

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 

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)
--------------------------

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

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.


===========================
Addendum 1 - 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... In GT4
I eventually found that every 100-200 laps I did yielded another
half-second improvement.

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...

--------- GT4 --------------------------
Lap   85: New record practice - 5'29.297
Lap  185: Beat Mission 34 - 9'12.394
Lap  270: Broke 5'10 in practice - 5'09.297
Lap  410: Break 5'00 in practice - 4'59.715
Lap  600: Visited Nurburgring in person in August 2007
Lap  660: Made 4'55 in practice - 4'55.491
Lap 1000: New record practice - 4'54.582
Lap 1241: New record arcade - 4'46.479
Lap 1363: Break 5'00 in Formula GT 15-lap - 4'59.048
Lap 2088: Break 78-minute Formula GT 15-lap - 1:17'57.249
Lap 2930: New record arcade - 4'41.769
Lap 3002: New fastest flying L15 Formula GT - 4'53.939
Lap 3090: Break 77-minute Formula GT 15-lap - 1:16'55.246
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 GT4 lap count (NFS:S laps: 812; total 4693)
--------- GT4 --------------------------

--------- GT5 --------------------------
Lap    5: Gold (barely ;) in AMG Academy Intermediate: 7'04.998
Lap    8: First lap, Zonda R - 6'31.695
Lap    9: First lap, Calsonic GT-R - 6'41.716
 

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

Again, I hope this humble labor has helped or inspired you in some way.
Thank you for reading!


"The various methods cannot be expressed in writing... It is
difficult to express it clearly... You must practice constantly."
--Miyamoto Musashi, 1645

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