Ko-Op Tour of Deutschland | 5 REASONS WHY YOU NEED TO DO A RING TRIP

Instead of leaving you the residuals of the ‘Ring gallery without much commentary, I might just shake it up abit and do a list, 1 to 5, of valid excuses for you to use to make the journey out into the Forbidden Forest of Nurburg.

Eins! The Nurburgring is the best testing ground for those who want to improve on their driving in an environment that does nothing but demand of your complete 100% fokus. Whether it be your own personal vehicle, a ‘Ring rental, or one you’ve borrowed from SixT (naughty), the not-so-smooth ride you’ll be faced to endure for 11.9 miles of the ‘TF’ bridge-to-gantry course will put both man and machine to the ultimate test. A lot of cars that manufacturers plan on producing are tested on the circuit, and for good reason. The varying conditions that the collective orchestra of components of a car are forced through simulate the very tough and rigorously spent life of use/abuse the vehicle will most likely go through when put on sale. This process brings near enough every flaw to light. I suppose, for the everyday driver, driving the Nurburgring will be more of a challenge for the driver and less so for the car. But, if you reckon your “lowering-springs-with-wheels-and-tyres” mod recipe is enough to keep pace, the Nurburgring might just devour you and spit you out into the oblivion. It is a track that demands total respect, so you better be serious if you’re wanting to set that BTG lap record.

Zwei! What you will immediately notice when you arrive in Nurburg, is the pure dominance of the Porsche marque, the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS model in particular. It gets to a point where you are on a hunt for all the 9 colour options that they are available in. But, whilst me and Luke were patiently waiting in the Suzuki Swift for the red flag to be dismissed, this friggin’ 991 GT2 RS rolls up and I managed to snap this one clean photo before the beautiful British Racing Green stunner got horded by Snapchatters. It didn’t stay for long, since the parking spot was for Ring Taxis only, and the marshal told him to scram. Its not all just rare Porsches though. You will stumble across a handful of extraordinary pieces of automotive art, with such an eclectic assortment, there’s bound to be something to make your gob drop…

…Just like that BMW 2002 did to me.

Drei! Enough’s enough, quit playing pretend on Playstation, get off your gaming chair and into the hot seat on track for real! If taking your own pride and joy is too much risk, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to hiring a purpose-built motor to blitz around the Nordschleife in. That purple Swift Sport was what we borrowed for a few laps, costing us about £150 for the day including fuel and lap tickets. You might snigger at its meager 125bhp turbo-less output, but if you find enjoyment in driving cars to the limit, this is a sensible option when you’re concerned about damage excess if something does go wrong. Besides, the car we got was fully caged, bucket seats with harnesses hold you in, Endless brake pads literally felt neverending in terms of stopping power, and sticky (when dry) Advan AD08R tyres; a proper ‘Ring spek Swift in all aspects.

Vier! Okay, so it might be your first time or perhaps the weather turned to shit on arrival, so you don’t have it in you to risk a remortgage back home if you write-off a rented GT86 all because you wanted to become Takumi Fujiwara coming off Karussell in 2nd gear. If thats the case, jump into the passenger and ride shotgun with a taxi driver. As long as that taxi is a Mclaren or better yet, a 550bhp F80 M3 with 4 Recaro bucket seats so its fun for the whole family! I wanted to get round the ‘Ring with a view from the passenger seat (which would be the driver’s side in normal countries), so I luckily got chance to hop in a 720S piloted by Moritz Kranz, some guy who can drive cars fast and win races, basically. The Mclaren was beyond ballistic, its twin-turbo V8 powerplant is phenonmenal with its delivery, but Moritz made it look like a Sunday drive whilst simultaneously passing everything, of course.

Fünf! The final reason I can give for visiting the Nurburgring, is simply this. Whether you love driving cars, watching cars be driven to the edge, or just enjoy generally enjoy the kulture, this is the place for you to experience at least once. There is so much passion and enthusiasm, not only in and around the Nurburgring facility, but also in the villages that are dotted in that region have a strong affinity to motorsport. Germans, in fact, just like the Japanese make a tremendous effort when it comes to car life. They share a lot of similarities, which is what I tended to note frequently during my stay. The way in which they do things (cars, specifically) is probably the greatest difference. Germany brings functionality to the forefront; Japan highlights delicate form in very unique ways (which is why it can be misunderstood most of the time).

To be quite honest, I didn’t need to give much justification for my reasons. In fact, why the hell do I need to persuade anyone to visit the world’s most notorious automotive holiday destination? Its one of those things that has got to be done.

Probably gassed enough on this one, so I’m out of here.

Thanks for checking my stuff out, if you can be bothered, share it with your fam or your mate. I appreciate your time. Keep your eyes peeled for the next one in this Germany saga…

Ko-Op Tour of Deutschland | Korner Skouts

I admit I have been way too lax with the output on this blog site. My reasons consist of both productivity, mixed with procrastination, as we are all the more victim to in this day and age. I am not making an excuse, I am simply telling you the truth.

Maybe this second post will redeem me and my absence, as I have a pretty bulky gallery from the first full day at the Nordschleife.

The timing of our arrival was nigh on perfect with us landing on the weekend of the VLN4 (Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenpokal Nürburgring – a.k.a. Association of Nurburgring Cup Organisers if that was too many letters in a word for you). It’s a racing series with a crazily diverse range of entrants; amateur drivers in road-legal Civics and Clios, all the way through the spectrum to full-fledged pros piloting factory GT3-spec BMW M6 and Porsche 911 GT3 chassis.

Doing absolutely no research on the event, I approached trackside as a mere spectator, trying to take it all in. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but something about the atmosphere at the Nurburgring makes you super-aware that Germany’s motorsport following and culture is one that is held in very high regard.

Hatzenbach is the corner we started the morning off with, which for the drivers is the initial point of no return into Green Hell as they enter the Nordschleife crossing over from the GP portion of the circuit.

We made our way down alongside the section of 4km-worth of treacherous, narrow tarmac, up until reaching the Arembergkurve, at which point in the qualifying session a yellow flag was waved causing the 60/120kph (can’t remember which of the two velocities) speed limit to be strictly adhered to by all cars. Made it easier for me to grab some pan-shots before we trekked back up the ascent towards the parking area at Hatzenbach.

We didn’t stay long whilst the VLN race was ongoing, so Luke took me on a little tour of Adenau and the surrounding villages. We did stop off at Apex Nuerburg, the firm that have some of the most insanely fast and ridiculous “taxis”.

To finish off the day, we hopped on over to the “Youtube Corner” – Brunnchen – to watch the normies run what they brung during Touristenfahrten (Tourist Rides), and the odd ‘Ring Taxi fly by with some brutal force indefinitely giving the passengers the ride of their life.

That’s that for now, but there’s a little more content from our time in Nurburg, so be sure to come back for more, and then some! I’m gonna try and hurry this Germany series out on to the site because for one, lagging is a bad habit I am trying to shake, and two, scrolling through these photos is making me miss doing car stuff 😦

Cyco Racing Civic | Time Attack UK 2019

The end of last month was a heated weekend – both literally and figuratively – down on the ‘mac of Donington Park, Leicestershire. With the previous Time Attack UK round I attended being a bit damp, I was looking much more forward to this trip (as were my camera and lenses). Again, to reel visitors in, the against-the-clock race event was running parallel with ‘Tunerfest Midlands’ which was a variety car show with a drift demo stage set up in overspill car park. I did get a few photos of the static display, but I want to fokus on motors that move, in this article in particular.

Case in point: enter Chris Williams and his ED7 Civic. He kindly allowed me to point the lens at his weapon of choice for the day, and for that I am highly thankful, because this duo is one a kind.

Chris got hold of this Civic back in September of 2003, so he should be in the vicinity of their anniversary at present moment. When it caught my eye at the Cadwell round earlier this year, I was slightly surprised how it made very little noise when it glided past in comparison to both the competitors, and your typical 1980s-90s VTEC Honda. No B-series buzz. No nat-asp rasp. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t disappoint, it just struck me with its unusual aura.

If you know Chris and his Civic, you know what’s coming. If not, let me put your quandary to rest. Long gone is the car’s original D-series running gear; this seriously fast, under-the-radar Civic build is animated by the famed K20 engine, stolen (not literally) from an Acura RSX Type S. Because Chris is a native Canadian, what us Brits know as the Integra is regarded as the “premium” version of the FF coupe that was sold as the RSX over in the States. Whilst the Land of the Rising Sun exclusively was treated to the DC5 Type R, US and Canadian markets got a decent compromise with the ‘Type-S’ model, equipped with a K20 rated to 200-210bhp depending on the trim level. Specifically, a home-built (the man assembled the powerplant together in front of his telly in his living room during the cold winter months) K20A2 rests under Chris’ bonnet, which is not riding solo, since its paired up with a pretty beefily-sized Rotrex C38-91 centrifugal-type supercharger. The results are astonishing on paper: circa 400bhp on demand via the [not so]loud pedal. Forced induction is always the go-to for more power, especially when its relatively more efficient and safer than going all-motor, to get high numbers on the dyno. The ponies are released through a 6-speed transmission, with a K20A3 4.7 final-drive, and sent to the Pirelli semi-slicks thanks to a limited-slip diff borrowed from a B-series Type-R.

Key items on the car consist of the following: Yellowspeed 2-way adjustable coilovers with external reservoirs, custom front splitter made from good-ol’ plywood, boot-mounted adjustable rear GT-wing, full-welded in rollcage courtesy of JBDR Fabrication, half-size radiator with custom ducting, a decent dose of gold heat-reflective tape, and a bespoke stainless 3″ exhaust system. The sum of all these parts make for a highly capable sub-900kg teal time-attack tool.

Ending the day on an excellent vibe, Chris put down a speedy lap of 1:17:498 in the timed final session, only to be bested by 0.117 seconds on the 1.979-mile National layout of the circuit. On the day, however, Chris managed to put down a solid 1:16.879 when the climate was sub-30 degrees. Goes to show how you are contending not only with your mind and the machine, but the earthly elements can throw everything at both cars and drivers, making this category of motorsport an intense one.

Did I mention that this was the very first time Chris has put rubber to road at Donington? Along with all the other circuits in this season’s rounds!

I am sure Chris is always striving to develop his own skill behind the wheel, exploiting the modern advancement in home-entertainment technology by spending hours going around virtual circuits on a VR simulator, and then applying incremental enhancements to his machine without upsetting any of the chassis’ balance.

Until next time, thanks for coming by…

Japanaholik’s Journal | The Kansai Chapter (1)

Japan’s system of addressing locales is not as straightforward to us Westerners as we’d probably like, with the island being divided into geographical regions, then a cumulative 47 prefectures within those, then subdivisions of cities and districts, and then villages and towns identified within in and amongst them, and then the building numbers aren’t ordered like they are in the neighbourhoods in the UK, because they are based on WHEN the building was constructed as opposed to odds and evens on either side of the road ascending/descending in numerical order.

Wow, that was a major, unnecesscary veer-off, but I don’t care, I’m gonna leave it in. It might act as a heads-up for someone who wants to go out to Japan, although there’s probably full-on guides if you give Google a quick ask.

Osaka and Kyoto are the Kansai region’s largest prefectures after Tokyo and its greater area. Back in the day, there was a East-West rivalry between Edo (what is now Tokyo) and Osaka. If you want to know more about the history of Japan in a nutshell, check out a well-delivered video created in MS Paint and Windows Movie Maker, titled ‘history of japan’ by Bill Wurtz. I thought it would be interesting to see what the contrast was like between both major cities, and whether their characters are distinct enough to make me notice. To be honest, wandering around in Osaka centre is not THAT much different from Tokyo, except that its a bit more “down-to-earth” and not as pristine as the country’s capital.

Anyway, day#10 of the trip, I wanted to start the morning off in nature. Cities are overrated, I prefer towns, but I can’t pin down why exactly I am attracted to places with a good balance of liveliness and tranquility. We decided to grab a cheap, runabout rental car, so we booked out a Toyota Passo (that white thing below). Why are modern Toyotas so drab to drive? It didn’t help that it was an automatic, however, atleast it sipped on fuel even when I wound that CVT ‘box out from every set of traffic lights.

Minoo Park was not too far according to Google Maps, and it was a decent size for us to spend the first half of the day. I parked up at the nearest multi-storey, and its the same old story: Japan Love Cars. Walking down each level towards the exit, there was something lurking in the bays around the sides of the parking floor. Most, as you can see, had dustcovers on, which made for a good game of ‘guess the car’. I have both naff-all knowledge and not much interest in ‘supercars’, but I am glad the ones that laid bare were some of the koolest of klassics.

So, yeah, having a holiday in Japan that’s completely sterile of automotive lures is near enough impossible.

The forested valley is situated at the top of a hill, so it was a bit of a strenuous uphill walk to reach. It was worth it though; not that busy and you can just relax on one of the benches at the foot of the 33-metre waterfall.

Looking at trees for too long can get mundane, and I resisted the urge to whip out the Instagram feed that morning (well, there was no phone reception up in the forest anyhow), so I thought we might aswell head out back in the direction of Osaka centre to visit a couple “Car Meccas”.

The first was GT Net, a used-car dealership with some very fine pieces of kit. Its awkward going to a car-dealer with no intention of buying anything (me and a friend are guilty of doing this after school, years ago, just to check out manufacturers latest and greatest).

We got there and outside they had not one, but three, kouki FD RX-7s, so you can already imagine me frothing at the mouth. To top it off they had a Millenium Jade R34 GT-R, which is another beautiful paint colour offered by Nissan, which needs to make its deserved comeback.

Okay, now onto the hottest Honda tuner in my opinion, and that’s due to their #FIRE #LIT livery designs. I remember watching ‘Hot Version’ and seeing the J’s Racing S2000 tear up the touge for the first time. Its a phenomenal car, in both practice and on paper: 345 horsepower from its naturally-aspirated, stroked F20C 2.7 litre belter, and a kerbweight of around 1100kg with interior still in place, the streetable Honda roadster is a strong contender. Get yourself on YouTube and see for yourself. But check out the rest of my pics first…

The garage wasn’t even supposed to be open on the day I was there, but luckily some of the staff were in the office, and president, Murakami-san, kindly let me in and have a look around. The place is small, but like everywhere in Japan, given space is used to the maximum in terms of efficiency.

These guys know how to make Hondas look great, so even if all you have is a Jazz/Fit, I would recommend reaching out to this shop if you haven’t already. I could tell from the customer’s cars on the lifts, that these lot know what to do and how to do it.

After a jam-packed day of driving and walking, we headed back to our accommodation and called it a night. Looking at the content I have remaining on my desktop for my ‘Japanaholik’s Journal’ series, I reckon the next will be the LAST instalment, but definitely not the LEAST, so keep an eye on the Feed…

Thanks for swooping by!

Oulton Park – British GT Championship Rd.1 2019

A couple of weeks back I attended the starting round of the British GT, taking place at Oulton Park, Cheshire. It is not too dissimilar from Cadwell Park, in that it is scenic and every corner you stand at will be unique, both the track and the surrounding woods.

I actually signed up for a photography workshop run by Jessops Academy, after the salesman at the Leeds branch strongly suggested I do so. The format of the all-day session was well-planned but not too regimented if that makes sense. The lead photographer, Pete (@pete.jessopsacademy), co-ordinated the group and gave us pointers here and there, but for the most part we were creatively free behind the lens. Not only did Pete gives us some insider advice on how to compose photos of cars on track, he got us behind-the-pitwall access to Academy Motorsport’s garage on the day, getting the opportunity to meet the driver and crew which was cool.

Anyway, not much yabber from this point onwards, enjoy the snaps.

Thanks for coming through.