Ingolf Deubel sentenced to jail

Ingolf Deubel

Ingolf Deubel, one of the men inextricably linked to the collapse of Nürburgring GmbH, was handed a three-and-a-half-year jail term by the Koblenz county court yesterday.

Previously a finance minister for the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Deubel was convicted on 14 counts by Judge Winfried Hetger. Deubel was found to have deliberately misled parliament after he sanctioned the transfer of taxpayer funds to Nürburgring GmbH while saying the money had been sourced from private backers.

Walter Kafitz, former CEO of the Nürburgring, was also given a suspended sentence of 19 months.

[Source: Deutsche Welle | Pic: dpa]

The Nürburgring as it looked in 1967

The Nurburgring as it looked in 1967

Here’s a real treat for Nürburgring fans. It’s the Nordschleife as it looked in 1967. That’s 47 years ago now and already the track was 40 years old when these photos were taken.

According to a thread on reddit, where these popped up, the photos were taken by a guy named Jack Moody was was an engineeer with Porsche. They were old Kodachrome slides and have been scanned in by reddit user rexhardwick and we can’t thank him enough for his efforts. Make sure you click each image for a 2000px version as well.

We’ve labelled the pics as best as possible and left a question mark on sections we’re unsure about, feel free to correct any of the captions in the comments section below.

And, yes, like you we’ve also thought how cool it would be to compare these photos with current day images. Thankfully Dale Lomas from Bridge to Gantry had that thought too and you can see his comparison video after all the pics.

[Source: reddit]

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Capricorn Nürburgring to takeover on 1 January 2015

Nurburgring

The Nürburgring has been sold. But not to the American investment firm HIG Capital as first thought, but rather the German-based capricorn group.

With a background in motorsport it appears fans can rest easy that the Nürburgring is in capable and willing hands.

“The buyer will take over and continue to run the business operations of the Nürburgring, with its numerous motor races, music events, tourist and test drives as well as the hotels and holiday facilities,” an official press statement reads.

“The business strategy of the bidder is that the capricorn GROUP will develop and expand the Nürburgring into an Automotive Technology Cluster. This new approach goes well beyond pure motor sport and offers the prospect of further jobs in the region.”

The purchase price for the Ring was in excess of €100 million and capricorn promises to spend up to €25 million on development, which includes the Autmotive Technology Cluster. That’s to say not all of the money assigned for development will be focused on track operations.

Other plans include the dismantling and relocation of the failed ring°racer rollercoaster. Similarly, the controversial ring°card payment system will be scrapped.

Jens Lieser, who helped to oversee the sale explained, “We had two excellent offers that were presented to the creditors’ committee. Finally they opted for the offer that delivered the highest purchase price and good prospects for the region.”

Adam Osieka, a local businessman and active racer at the Ring, who will take on the role of Managing Director under the new ownership regime, said it was key to ensure the people of the Eifel region had a positive future.

“Responsibility for local people and safeguarding the interests of the region are key to sustainable success,” he said. “They are the foundation for the new economic prospects of the Nürburgring. If the Nürburgring does well, then the people in the region also do well.”

Meyrick Cox an English businessman and racer, who was involved in the HIG Capital submission says he hopes capricorn will do well.

“Of course we are disappointed,” said Cox. “We have great experience in this sector, and our consortium runs three circuits already (including the Circuit of the Americas), and has excellent experience with the F1 and music businesses. We hope that the winning bid can do as much good for the Nürburgring as we had planned.”

All 2014 race events and public access days are scheduled to go ahead as planned. Capricorn Nürburgring GmbH will officially takeover on 1 January 2015.

[Source: Bridge to Gantry]

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Nürburgring buyer to be announced today!

Audi at 2012 Nurburgring 24 hour race

In the next few hours it’s expected the successful bidder for the purchase of the Nürburgring will be announced at a specially convened press conference. And that buyer is tipped to be the American investment group HIG Capital.

What does this mean for the future of the Ring and, most importantly, the future of the Nordschleife? Well it’s all speculation until HIG makes its plans known, but it’s hoped the second tilt at private ownership will be much better than the first.

The reported sale price is said to be around €60–70 million and a further €25 million is rumoured to be invested into the track facilities.

Perhaps the most pleasing news is word that HIG’s business model centres around the Green Hell’s three key pillars: motorsport, manufacturer testing and touristenfahrten (public access).

A new camera and warning light system around the track is predicted to be installed and should allow track marshals to respond to incidents more quickly, as well as increasing awareness of any perils which may lay ahead. Such a system will benefit motorsport and public access users alike.

The current TF entry gates may also be moved to a new location which may better cater for the amount of traffic encountered on busy public days.

For now, at least, the signs are promising and if you’d like to keep abreast of the news from today’s press conference get yourself onto the Bridge to Gantry twitter feed.

[Source: Reuters & Bridge to Gantry]

Seat Leon Cupra 280 first sub-8 min production FWD

Seat Leon Cupra 280

The Seat Leon Cupra 280 has set a new Nürburgring benchmark for a front-wheel drive production car. The official announcement is being saved for the Geneva Motor Show, but Top Gear has the scoop for now.

As you can see the lap time is 7:58:44, which is pretty bloody quick, obviously. It also cuts almost 10 seconds off the previous best, set by the Renault Megane RS 265 back in 2011.

Seat recorded the lap time late last year with factory touring car driver Jordi Gene at the wheel. His Cupra 280 was fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox and super sticky (optional) Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.

[Source: Top Gear]

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1976 German GP: Art imitates life

1976 German GP footage v Rush movie

Here’s a series of side-by-side animated GIFs comparing actual footage from Niki Lauda’s crash in the 1976 German GP with footage from Ron Howard’s movie Rush.

As you can see the Hollywood recreation is eerily accurate. The crash sequence from the movie can be seen after the break along with two more comparison sequences.

[Source: imgur via wtf1 | Thanks to Mick for the tip]

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Ecclestone no longer in frame for Nürburgring sale

Bernie Ecclestone

Liquidators for the Nürburgring hope to have the sale finalised by next month in time for the coming racing season and Bernie Ecclestone is no longer interested, according to German newspaper Rhein-Zeitung.

Ecclestone confirmed his interest in buying the Ring last month but he is not among the list of final bidders. Submissions for the sale closed yesterday and the Rhein-Zeitung report claims a source close to the sale has revealed there are three interested parties: Dusseldorf-based Capricorn, America investment company HIG and an unnamed US-based private equity firm.

The intentions of the three bidders has not been confirmed, although it is believed Capricorn and HIG plan to keep the track facilities active. The failed NüroDisney complex has a less certain future.

The worst result for motoring fans would be a complete sale of the track to a developer with no interest in motor racing at all. Hopefully that won’t happen and even a future without regular public access to the Nordschleife would be better if it meant the historic track was preserved and kept for professional racing activities and a test track for car makers.

It’s also been reported that the liquidators are open to new offers, despite the deadline for tenders passing.

[Source: Crash | Pic: Reuters/Olivia Harris]

Is the McLaren P1 the new Ring-daddy after all?

McLaren P1

If you’ve been following our coverage of the McLaren P1 and its mystery Nürburgring lap time over at AUSmotive you’ll probably be over it just like we were.

And yet, thanks to Steve Sutcliffe’s review of the P1 for Autocar an unofficial ballpark time has emerged and breathed new life into the ongoing speculation. It’s been that way mostly because McLaren got cute and told us they went sub-7 minutes, but not how far below.

First, a reminder that the Porsche 918 has lapped the Ring in a documented 6 minutes 57 seconds. Clearly, McLaren will want to better that, and by some margin.

We’ve had speculation of a 7:04 lap time from the hybrid P1 and also 6:47. Well now we can add a new and much more impressive claim thanks to Autocar:

According to the rumour mill that is the internet the number of 6min 47sec keeps cropping up. But according to a McLaren insider I spoke to who knows rather more about the P1′s capabilities than any armchair expert ever could, the actual time is “a fair bit quicker than that.” As in six minutes 30 something. Either way, the P1 is, until Ferrari unleashes the LaFerrari at the Green Hell, king of the ‘Ring. For the time being.

Six minutes and thirty seconds?! That is very, very fast. As in, approaching all-time fastest ever around the fearsome Nordschleife!

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This Porsche handles like a tractor!

Walter Rohrl aboard the Porsche Junior

This video is old, but we’re not sure how me missed it. Back in 2012 Auto Bild helped to coordinate the restoration of this Porsche Junior, the company’s modest 14hp tractor originally built between 1952 and 1963.

The finished product was auctioned off for charity and to help promote the auction Auto Bild secured the services of legendary Walter Röhrl to gain some attention. They sent the Porsche factory tester out on a lap of the Nordschleife to claim a new record: the slowest lap ever completed.

It all looks like it would have been a lot of fun, even at the Junior’s meager top speed of just 20km/h.

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Bernie Ecclestone confirms Nürburgring bid

2013 German Grand Prix

The sale of the Nürburgring hasn’t exactly gone to plan. Almost a year after it went on sale it still doesn’t have a buyer. But that could all be about to change after Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone confirmed he has made a bid for the track.

“We made an offer and we now wait for it to be accepted,” Ecclestone revealed to German publications Handeslblatt and Wirtschaftwoche.

“We believe that we can do more than anyone else for the circuit. There could be a decision as early as in the coming weeks.”

It’s understood Ecclestone’s motivation is to help keep Formula 1 in Germany on a long-term basis. Currently, and due to financial pressures, the German Grand Prix alternates between the Nürburgring and Hockenheim from one year to the next.

It’s unclear what Eccelstone’s plan would be for the 20.8km Nordschleife but it would appear that his bid includes an offer for all sale items, including the Nordschleife and the failed NüroDisney complex.

Officials handling the bid remain tight lipped saying only: “We do not comment on any specific bidders. But everybody who has an interesting offer is warmly welcome.

“We’re in the final stages of the process and want to conclude it in Q1, so that the new owner(s) can start the season in April.”

German auto club ADAC reportedly made a low ball bid of €30–40m for the racetracks only, and not the troublesome entertainment facilities, which was rejected. Last November a €275m bid for the full Nürburgring complex was reported, but that bid appears to have stalled.

In December, Save the Ring protesters, led by Sabine Schmitz, rallied to ask for the sale of the Ring to be stopped in a bid to keep the facilities out of private ownership and in public hands.

[Source: Reuters | Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

2014 Nissan GT-R Nismo laps Ring in 7:08

2014 Nissan GT-R Nismo

Nissan racing driver Michael Krumm joins us on this video to talk us through his very impressive lap of the Nordschleife in the 2014 GT-R Nismo. We first got wind of a likely new lap record for the GT-R last month.

It’s always good to have the proof to support the hype. As always, the GT-R doesn’t shy away from the hype and with a verified lap time of 7:08.679 why should it?!

Fitted with “track options”, which includes tailored tuning of the aerodynamics and suspension as well as weight reduction, Nissan is claiming the lap time as the world’s fastest volume production car around the Nürburgring.

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BMW Ring-Taxi gets unplanned crash test

BMW M5 Ring-Taxi

A few days ago this was the site on the Nürburgring after the BMW Ring-Taxi bit the dust after some heavy impact just after the Karussell. We’ve not come across any reports of serious injury or an explanation of what happened in the moments leading up to the accident.

Reports suggest the Ring-Taxi could have been travelling at around 180km/h at that section of the track. It certainly looks as though the BMW M5 dealt with the impact quite well, despite the graphic damage to the car.

[Source: Bridge to Gantry]