Cortinas to Cortina day 15
Hockenheim to Nurburgring
Report from Steve Weston
The penultimate day of our C2C road trip found us leaving our two-night stopover at the Hockenheimring Hotel Motodrom and heading for the Dorint Hotel alongside the Nurburgring Race Track in the Eifel. Our itinerary suggested a Google route of approximately 136 miles and with the day starting bright and sunny, the 24 cars broke into small groups as usual and left after breakfast, when it suited them. We had settled into a group consisting of two Mk I’s, a Mk II Savage and a Mk V XR6, all happy to pick a route on minor roads and avoid the autobahns whenever possible. We navigated using the details on the published itinerary – where recognisable; our road maps – too large a scale for many minor roads to show; our sat-navs – useful but tricky when encountering deviations due to road works along the way. Of course it would be much easier sticking to major routes but not half as much fun!
One of the groups of MkII drivers having a route check at the services.
After crossing the very picturesque Mosel valley, famous for its vineyards climbing up the steep slopes on either side of the river, we climbed a narrow road with our convoy split half and half by a heavy lorry. This gave those behind a very slow ascent with very few opportunities to overtake but the Nurburgring was now not that far ahead. As we climbed higher through the Eifel region the weather deteriorated with some rain and lower temperatures than we had enjoyed earlier in the day but we soon made it to the comfort of the hotel. We actually covered 149 miles and had taken just over 4 hours, allowing for a petrol stop for the highest octane rating we could find and of course a splash of Millers additive, courtesy of our sponsor.
We picked our way heading north-west towards Koblenz but never saw it, crossing the River Mosel further west at Cochem, we think. The route took us through areas of isolated German farmland with sweeping bends, quiet villages that seemed almost uninhabited. This was great driving country for our Cortinas where you could see well ahead and could often safely use the full width of the road. A glance back from our lead car showed everyone enjoying themselves, quite a sight! At other times we entered bigger towns where a series of traffic lights threatened to break our convoy up and I upset at least one German bus driver by pulling over into his lay-by whilst we waited for the tail-enders to catch up. My German stretched to “Ich bin lost” and let me get away with it.
The Hotel Dorint is directly alongside the new Grand Prix track at Nurburgring and our chosen room was trackside, allowing uninterrupted viewing from its balcony of the BMW Mini racing that was underway that afternoon, when we arrived. The hotel was extremely well appointed with bars and restaurants also overlooking the track, an underground car park and other leisure facilities. Somebody must have found it confusing though, as they had parked their Trabant in the hotel, on the second floor landing opposite the panoramic lifts. I know I like to keep a close eye on my own Cortina but ……Still, we added our C2C rally plaque to the bodywork and even a Millers sticker so that should help them get it going!
For some of us, one of the highlights of the trip was the opportunity to take our cars around the Nordschleife track that runs adjacent to the Grand Prix circuit. This 20km closed road was open to the public at 5pm so as the afternoon progressed decisions had to be made whether to rub bumpers with the modern, exotic machinery that we had seen arriving on the local roads. Needless to say, all my ‘convoy group’ and quite a few other Mk II’s and Mk V’s were up for it. We paid our fee of Euro26 and collected a ‘credit card’ pass which enabled us to swipe and raise the entrance barrier to a race track! Next minute you are foot down, driving hell for leather round a track that you have no idea where the next bend is going to take you. All this whilst trying to avoid the Porsches and hot-hatches that had the slight edge over us on speed and road-holding – at least that’s what it felt like to me. Oh, and then it started raining!
A quick debrief before heading back to the hotel.
Our one circuit set us all up for a good last night in the hotel bar and restaurant, comparing notes on how it all went. However it was not enough for the rest of my ‘convoy group’, as a further challenge had to be settled after dinner on the Nurburgring Indoor Kart Track, just along from the hotel. Participating were Rob Sargent, Peter Cooper, Graham Brown, Richard Sloman and Rob Weston. The electronic time keeper showed Peter winning the laurels but I hear he puts in a bit of practice in between discussions on rallying of course.
All photos © Cortina MkII Owners Club LTD