It’s probably the biggest change to the Nürburgring’s famous public sessions in the last 20 years, and it’s happening next month. As a ‘trial’.
Since the equally-seismic 2020 closure of the Breidscheid entrance and exit to the Nordschleife, under the ill-fitting cover of COVID considerations, the barely functional Nordschleife Zufahrt area has been a hot mess. With pressure from local authorities and residents to keep the public roads clear around the 20.8km Nordschleife entrance, the Döttinger Höhe (DH) regularly becomes a carpark during busy times.
Combined with a lack of signage and/or instruction, this means the final straight of a public lap regularly becomes a 4 or 5 lane queue, sometimes reaching over 1km in length, holding hundreds and hundreds of frustrated visitors at peak hours.
While regulars know there is a ‘system’ to the DH queue (with the far left being used to approach the on-track ticket gate, the two right lanes being used to leave the circuit, and a lane in between for service vehicles), there’s been almost a complete lack of communication to the first-time visitor so far.
T13 becomes a pitlane for the public, again.
Old-school Nürburgring aficionados will know that the ‘old’ T13 area was once the main entrance for public laps, until the ‘Grüne Hölle’ restaurant and ‘New Entrance’ was opened at the turn of the 21st century.
Now, public drivers will be able to use it once again, as the Nürburgring management announced today that a trial will take place next month, August 2023.
With two contactless-payment petrol pumps (at ‘premium’ prices, no doubt), as well as a public toilet block. As current RCN competitors will know, there’s space for up to 100 cars in the T13 pitlane, though it will require some yellow jackets and common sense to keep it flowing.
Speed limits around T13?
Thus far, unless you’re a ring taxi driver, the posted speed limits during Touristenfahrten are approached with a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. Never in my 20+ years have I witnessed a tourist driver being reproached for speeding through the posted 50kmh limit at Breidscheid bridge. Nowadays, with only service vehicles using that half-way entrance and exit, it’s largely forgotten. As a ring taxi driver though, this speed limit was a source of multiple written warnings, and some rather confusing meetings.
Why is this relevant? Well, with traffic entering T13 at the Hohenrain chicane, and entering from the right-hand-side at Sabine Schmitz Kurve, the posted 50kmh limits at T13 will become more relevant than ever. What speed limits, you might ask? Well, there’s a 70kmh, then a 50kmh at T13. Just like Breidscheid.
Will they be enforced? Will they even be mentioned? No doubt that most people arriving on their first laps would never guess the Nordschleife has speed limits, and that’s probably reason enough to keep them quiet.
Rest assured, I’ll bring you updates on the BTG instagram here.
OFFICIAL NÜRBURGRING PRESS RELEASE BELOW:
From August, a new service will be launched at the tourist drives on the legendary Nordschleife: a Pitstop Area will go into test operation for the first time during the weekends. This means: the tourist drivers can take a break or refuel between their laps on the Nordschleife in the area at T13. Afterwards, they immediately return to the track. There is room for around 100 vehicles at any one time. To ensure that everything runs smoothly, two stewards regulate the traffic.
During the lap, the pit stop area is accessed directly via the Nordschleife at the level of the Hohenrain chicane, and the re-entry onto the track is just before the Sabine Schmitz bend. The operators of the circuit expect this to have some advantages for the tourist drivers and also for the traffic situation on site. Previously, all drivers had to take a break in the parking area at or near the Nordschleife access road. Especially on busy days, this cost the frequent drivers at the Ring time. Therefore, the alternative that has now been created – with a direct exit and re-entry – is much more attractive for a short rest and also relieves the traffic at the access road. In addition, there is now the option for tourist drivers to refuel in the Pitstop Area right next to the track.
The test operation in August should now provide further insights into whether the Pitstop Area model is popular with tourist drivers and also proves itself in practice. A decision will then be made as to whether this option should remain available in the future.