It’s an argument that’s probably as old as the Nurburgring Nordschleife itself. When an overtake results in a crash, both drivers will normally blame each other. In some circumstances it’s hard to ever place blame on one driver completely.
Unless of course, you’re at the Nurburgring Nordschleife during Touristenfahrten (tourists driving or public driving). Then it’s 100% clear cut, to the point of frustration for all of us more savvy trackday and race drivers.
Because unlike on trackdays, the rules on public driving are pretty simple:
Overtaking is on the left, normal traffic stays right.
And if you want to move from the right side to the left, regardless of the racing line, you need to check your mirrors just like the autobahn.
Of course, it’s not always that simple and I encourage ALL drivers to try and co-operate. My personal emphasis is normally on the faster car judging the overtake as safely as possible. The car being overtaken is often a novice, with their brain at saturation point, and ready to make a mistake.
Here’s an onboard video from a big white M3 narrowly avoiding a similar situation:
Again, this could have been avoided by the car in front checking the mirrors more regularly. How regularly? Every few seconds.
I’m not saying it’s always the slow car’s fault either. Here’s the view from onboard a rental Porsche 911 when a Ferrari attempts to get through a very silly gap in a well-known bottleneck:
So what can we learn to avoid these moments?
- Faster drivers: have a little patience and presume that everybody you’re overtaking is a totally green amateur. It’s hard to do a lap time with this outlook, but this is PUBLIC driving, not racing. So get real.
- Slower drivers: please check your mirrors and remember that what you think is fast might not be that fast…
- BOTH drivers need to remember that the “ideal line” is just a concept, not a God-given right. Make space for each other, or suffer the YouTube consequences…
What does an expert say?
“Driving the “ideal line” is no defence if you are hit from behind. The Koblenz Higher Regional Court has about 60 decisions which have one major point in common; namely that a driver failed to comply with the General Conditions for driving on the Nordschleife in circumstances where he was obliged to keep to the right hand side and not allowed to take the “ideal line”. As a rule, judges will reduce the total compensation awarded to the “ideal line” driver by 60-75%.” Read more…
-Andrew Thompson, Barrister.