Rich Duisberg guides you through the many playthings available to rent at the Nurburgring. Suzuki Swift? Artega GT? Still cheaper than risking your own P&J.

In 1998 I took delivery of my first decent company car, a brand new Golf Gti, convinced my boss that I had an urgent appointment in Germany and dashed out of the office. Rightly suspicious of my motives, he called me later to see how I was getting on. “The engine is a bit noisy !” he shouted down the carphone. It would be. I was coming down Döttinger Höhe flat out. I didn’t last long in that job. Or the one after it. There are many other ways to enjoy the ‘ring and over the years MotorPunk has done it on Banger rallies, in rental cars and various other stuff we’ve begged, borrowed or twocced. There are 2 major obstacles though: Insurance and Belgium.

Most insurance policies specifically exclude the ‘ring (or derestricted toll roads as they sometimes phrase it) and even if they don’t convincing some call centre Meerkat to pay out for what no-one could legitimately claim is a regular public road is far from ‘simples’. Then there’s the cost of Armco, track closure, cleaning up, etc…

Jaco 3 BMWs house van 2

Belgium’s tedious topography isn’t an obstacle in itself but the fact it takes half a day to cross on potholed roads infested with unbending humourless Cops is. Then there’s circumnavigation of London/The M25, the cost of crossing the channel and lots of fuel. Don’t forget breakdown cover either. And make sure your insurance covers you abroad. And all that safety cack the EU Polizei insist you carry in your boot. Fagpacket maths tells me it costs nearly £400 to get to the ‘ring and back from the Midlands. The only fun is in racing the Eurostar train as it runs parallel to the E40. There’s a framed speeding ticket on my wall from the last time I tried that. And the train won. But you’ve still got the urge to do it, right? 13 miles of historic zero run-off circuit featuring every kind of corner, camber and climb you can imagine. And a few you don’t expect, had forgotten about, or are convinced they put in since your last trip to keep you on your toes. So what are you waiting for? Check the calendar for TouristenFahrt days and get over there.

Here’s the most painless way to enjoy the Green Hell: You can fly from the UK to Frankfurt Hahn or Cologne (also called Köln/Bonn) for around £50 in under an hour. FlyBE, AirBerlin and Ryanair have plenty of options. Rent something cheap from the airport and drive for just over an hour to the ‘ring. Do not take your rental car on the ‘ring though. Many are fitted with GPS and local spotters at the ‘ring get paid to snitch on rental car abusers. We heard the story of one unlucky Brit having €5000 taken from his credit card before his rental had even reached Karussell. There are a handful of companies who will be happy to rent you something suitable to enjoy the ‘ring though, depending on your budget and ability. Here are 4 of the best.

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Rent4Ring

Suzuki Swift - www.rent4ring.de

Suzuki Swift – www.rent4ring.de

Fredy, Ralph and Dale offer the cheapest and easiest way to enjoy the ‘ring. Their Toyo 888-tyred, half caged Suzuki Swift Sports have upgraded suspension and brakes and are an easy and predictable drive with 123 BHP and just enough oomph to entertain. €99 gets you 1 hour and 2 laps, or pay €149 for 2 hours and 4 laps, excluding fuel and lapticket; perfect for getting a taste of the place without emptying your wallet. They’ll also rent you a 189 BHP Opel Corsa OPC (that’s a continental Corsa VXR) with a similar setup for not much more. They have a MK3 MX-5 and can offer a RHD car too. Handy. When we visited Rent4Ring there were a bunch of well-fed American computer game programmers being briefed. It was clearly the first time they’d seen any track action … or daylight for that matter. If you’re a ‘ring novice like them the Swift is a perfect starting point.
Website: www.rent4ring.de

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RentRaceCar

Golf Mk7 - RentRaceCar.com

Golf Mk7 – RentRaceCar.com

Theo and his team will also rent you a Swift for a similar price to the Rent4Ring chaps and also have pokier options. They have 10 DSG ‘boxed Scirocco Cups with Bilstein suspension for €249 for 4 laps (excl. fuel/lap tickets). Theo’s advice was to stick the DSG in Sport and focus on getting the lines right rather than cock it up with the distraction of LHD gearshifting. The range includes Clios, Z4s, M3s, a Porsche 996 Carrera, and a Porsche 997 GT3 3.8 CS costing €1499 for ½ day and 6 laps. Like all the companies mentioned here you will sign up to an insurance excess of €5000+ if you bin the car, but if you bend a rim, you’ll pay for it at cost.

It seems that all these companies are more interested in making money from renting you a car, than stinging you for the odd dink, which seems fair. All these cars are highly maintained, there will be no “vere are your paperz ?” conversations if you get it wrong on the ‘ring, and you almost certainly won’t be held liable for the consequences of any oil leaks or other nasty mechanical defects with the car either. I am told that the insurance payout for a dead biker is less than a crippled one, but it would be in bad taste to follow advice I once overheard in Pistonklause; that if you accidently injure a biker, to save a few quid, you beat him to death with a wheelbrace.
www.rentracecar.com

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RSR Nürburg

Alfa versus Lotus - www.rsrnurburg.com

Alfa versus Lotus – www.rsrnurburg.com


RSR Nürburg is well worth a visit. If you can’t afford one of their rentals, you can always drool at the old Alfa 75s in his yard that helped get them established at the ‘ring. With a long background in racing Italian stuff Ron Simons moved into corporate rentals and drives in his iconic Alfa 75s and building a fleet of high performance stuff for the more experienced driver. The tatty 75s were mothballed some time ago to keep the picky ‘ring officials happy. RSR has Clio 200 Cups, Megane R26Rs, Porsche 996 and 997 GT3s and an E93 M3, and will offer tuition to suit. A stack of cracked clams in the backyard points to his current tie up with Lotus. You can have 4 laps in an Exige S for €725 or for something a bit different (and cheaper) you can do the ‘Lotus Exige tour-rally and trackwalk’ and enjoy a hoon in the area and some sightseeing with one of their guys as a guide for €249 for 2 people. The old Südschleife circuit is driveable in sections and gives an eerie feel for how it must have been in the 1930’s, with trees overhanging the road and forest as your crash barrier.

The Südschleife runs past the scrapyard ‘Auto Teile Geisen’, pictured here with the red Swift, where the miserable owner took offence at my Spitfire t-shirt. I can confirm from bitter personal experience that this is often the first port of call for the low-loader who recovers crashed cars on the ‘ring. You will be charged a large sum for the recovery of your crumpled car and a larger sum to fat Fritz for accepting it in his yard. He doesn’t speak any English and if you attempt any form of communication he’ll call ADAC and get your car impounded for good. Schadenfreude epitomised. I like visiting scrappies at home, I enjoy browsing for useful bits on a damp Sunday morning, but it is the last place you want to visit in Germany with your P&J on a flatbed.
www.rsrnurburg.com

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Jaco’s Paddock

Jacos Paddock - www.jacos-paddock.co.uk

Jacos Paddock – www.jacos-paddock.co.uk


Just in case you think this feature is reading like a series of adverts I’ll tell you about his outfit. We met Jaco outside the pub where he arrived barefooted, fag on, in an FIA spec BMW E36 325 he had built himself. A MotorPunk kind of chap. For €495 you can rent this car for a whole day, a fair price for a really handy car, but Jaco says he will give MotorPunk Readers a complete refund if you can do a bridge-to-gantry time of less than 8’45”… and the car comes back in 1 piece of course. He has raced this car himself and also has an E46 M3 and an Exige S1. In the interest of journalistic research I drove the Exige S1 as there weren’t many made and there are even fewer left. The VPHD K-series engine had been rebuilt, track rubber applied and a cage added. Even performing the Lotus limbo it took a while to get in. It was hot, smelly, rattly, uncomfortable and visibility was crap. I loved it. This car carries the ultimate version of the K-series which revs without inertia and sounds great too. Jaco won’t rent you this for a TouristenFahrt but for €649 you can take it on a trackday. He also offers Driver tuition if you need it. It is worth noting that Jaco will rent to 18 year olds too “if your attitude is right”.
www.jacos-paddock.co.uk

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You can check the websites of the companies mentioned for up to date prices and smallprint for renting a car to use on the Nordschleife on a Touristenfahrt day. As an interesting alternative (or addition) you can now drive the Grand Prix circuit. For €40 you get 20 minutes. The Polizei won’t ruin your day if you get it wrong as it’s not as public road and there’s enough space and run-off to enjoy yourself. It’s well worth considering as a low(er) risk alternative to a Touristenfahrt of the Nordschleife. We enjoyed two sessions on this year’s Car Club 18-30 trip here ourselves.

A fly drive trip like this should be considerably cheaper than driving your own car there, the insurance and legal risks are taken care of, you won’t have to look at Belgium and your boss won’t fire you for abusing your company car. Be a happy lapper.

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