Fascination “Track Days”: A day at the Nürburgring

The Toyota GT86 and our BILSTEIN B16 coilover suspension – perfectly made for the Nordschleife

An (almost) ordinary morning at the Nürburgring. Already at 8 am there is a lot of activity on the parking lot at the entrance to the Nordschleife. The association “Deutscher Sportfahrer Kreis” has invited to the “Hugo Emde Free Driving” (named after the legendary BILSTEIN Motorsport Director of the 60s, 70s and 80s) at the Nürburgring.

Dozens of sports cars are already lining up. Over a cup of coffee, the drivers talk about their vehicles and the latest stories from the Nürburgring scene. And we are right in the middle of it – in our living room on the Ring, so to speak. This is where we have been testing the performance of our BILSTEIN suspensions for decades.

Shortly after our arrival, a Porsche driver speaks to us about today’s sports equipment: a production Toyota GT86, only slightly modified. The small Japanese car with the clearly sporty concept pleases him, says the GT3 owner. His favour for the sports coupé is a testament to his expertise. The low price, rear-wheel drive, a weight of only around 1,250 kilograms and its low centre of gravity make the Toyota GT86 an insider tip among sports drivers.

The conversation makes clear what makes the Nürburgring and Track Day scene so special: it is the wonderfully relaxed and down-to-earth nature of the protagonists. There are no enviers here, it does not depend on status symbols, and everyone burns for his passion – regardless whether with 500 or 200 HP.

Before we finally go out on the track, we adjust our BILSTEIN B16 coilover suspension with mechanical parallel adjustment of the rebound and compression stages by ten clearly noticeable clicks. In addition, we release about 0.3 bar tyre air pressure all around, so that the tyres have the correct warm air pressure later.

Helmet on, gloves on. And as we slowly roll towards the Nordschleife entrance, we are overcome again by this tingling sensation, this tension that we feel even after many years when it comes to the most challenging race track in the world.

The first lap of the day is about getting a feel for the track, the outside conditions, the car and the setup. In the second round we’ll take it a little faster. The BILSTEIN B16 coilover suspension and semislicks already prove to be an excellent combination in the winding Hatzenbach section. Here, too, the sporting spirit of the participating drivers is evident: Faster vehicles are (usually) given right of way. As we leave the Hatzenbach meander in the direction of the airport, we have already left behind us the first – and sometimes much higher motorised – drivers.

On the passages where engine power is important, things look a little different. The 2-litre naturally aspirated boxer engine of the Toyota GT86 must always be kept at speed. Especially in the uphill passages from the “Ex-Mühle” section onwards, the GT86 has to fight. After the legendary “carousel”, the GT86 is back in its element and files curves like a scalpel. The Japanese car always remains good-natured and easy to control.

After two stints we treat our sports car and ourselves to a short break. We stroll across the parking lot, let the relaxed atmosphere work its magic on us and study the track tools of the other drivers, which have been built up with great attention to detail.

Shortly afterwards we set off for the obligatory visit of the gas station at Döttinger Höhe with its owner Hans-Joachim “Retti” Retterath. The outside looks like a more or less ordinary petrol station. But it is far more than that: fan shop, model car shop, coffee shop. Above all, however, you can meet many like-minded people here – and numerous car spotters on the hunt for the most exciting sports cars. After a short refuelling stop and lunch snack we return to the track to tackle the last stints.

After 10 more Nordschleife rounds and shop talking with many people it is time to say goodbye. Of course we start our journey home with our own suspensions. Here, too, the BILSTEIN B16 coilover suspension proves to be the perfect partner, as the race track setup can be adapted in the blink of an eye for much less demanding use in road traffic.

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