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Getting it wrong: Brünchenn II

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Somebody sent me this video today, and I thought I'd take the time to explain (in my opinion) why so many people get this particular corner of the Nürburgring wrong...

The first video I want to show you is, I believe, the 'typical' Brunchenn crash. Watch the Porsche GT3 crash above. Lift-off oversteer between the apex and the exit. So why does this happen? Here are the factors at play, from minor to major:

  • The crowd; there are plenty more difficult corners on the 'Ring. But none have a crowd like Brunchenn. Drivers feel the need to hit the gas along the short straight...
  • ...this gives them way too much speed as they approach the bend.
  • The correct response would be to brake in a straight line before the turn-in point...
  • ...instead instinct takes over. Human instinct is perfect for throwing spears at mammoths, or dodging predators. We think in straight lines. This is NOT good for driving. Drivers turn in to the corner as soon as they see it while lifting off the gas....
  • Early turn-in = early exit. Drivers see that barrier rushing up on the left side and just steer away from it.

The correct response here would have been to allow the Porsche to run wide on to the rumble strip. That's what it's there for! Instead instinct takes over and he steers away... bad idea. The rest of the 'ride' is just bad reactions, a textbook Porsche crash. The truth is he could have gone around this corner plenty faster, but his fear of the car (or fear of the barrier) made him lift off the gas and steer too much.

So what's the other way to crash here?

There are myriad ways to throw your pride and joy into a barrier at Brünchenn II, but I'll show you the other typical crash. This is a common way to smack your front-wheel drive car, as opposed to the more common rear-wheel-drive 'tank-slapper' above (which can often be repeated with a FWD car too). All you need is too much confidence and not too much ability...

Horrifying, right? This is simple, this is just too much speed combined with that instinctive (early) turn-in. The resulting understeer is dismayingly predictable.

What do you think? Why else do so many people repeat both these crashes every summer's weekend?

   

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