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Tuesday, Mar 26 03:36pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

New to Nürburgring: Jaxon Evans recounts first race on the Nordschleife

There are a select number of circuits around the world where 90 per cent of the lap is full commitment.

 

Australia can lay claim to Mount Panorama, a scenic drive turned street circuit that requires masses of concentration to keep out of the wall. Perhaps not too dissimilar, New Zealand’s own Pukekohe Park requires the utmost commitment from the hairpin, through the uphill ‘mountain’ section then to the fast, bumpy, sweeping first turn and into the tight and technical chicane.

 

Elsewhere, circuits like Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Le Mans in France, Suzuka in Japan, and principalities with street circuits like Monaco and Macau boast having the best circuits.

 

But there’s one circuit that trumps them all—the Nordschleife.

 

Located 80 km south of Cologne in Germany, a lap around the combined Nordschleife–Strecke circuit lasts 25.947 km. It is the longest circuit in the world and one of the most challenging.

 

Made famous for it’s drastic elevation changes, narrow, blind, and cambered corners, the circuit has been running for nearly 100 years. In that time it has been through several redevelopments in parts, but the mammoth Nordschleife has remained relatively unchanged. The steel barriers sit precariously close to the road and run-off is scarce.

 

Listen to the full interview: 

 

 

In 2018 a new era began for Jaxon Evans. The New Zealand-born driver last year won the Porsche Junior Scholarship to drive in Porsche Supercup, the top flight Carrera Cup championship where the best of the world’s Carrera Cup drivers compete.

 

Part of Evans’ campaign this year means he’ll be competing in as many VLN races as possible. The nine-round series takes in four and six-hour races around the Nordschleife where field upwards of 200 race for outright and class honours.

 

There is potential that Evans could end up racing in FIA GT3 homologated machinery, in particular, the Porsche 911 GT3 R. However, before he gets there he has to get experience on ‘The Ring’ in slightly slower machinery.

 

Last weekend Evans made his debut at the Nürburgring in a GT4-spec Porsche Cayman. It was an experience like none other. We sat down with Evans to discuss what his first drive around the  Nürburgring was like.

 

What were those first laps of the Nürburgring like?

 

It’s pretty interesting to begin with because you can’t just drive any car you want I guess. The whole day started with some guided instructor laps in a rented car, so it was some old car that was a bit faster than a road car but not the safest thing. Even in this thing it was just such a crazy experience. It was like driving the top section of Bathurst linked together for 25 km. It was just unreal. By far it exceeded my expectations even though you got there knowing that it is the longest and toughest track in the world. It was a really cool feeling and just really special to be on the circuit.  

 

car


Is there anything that prepares you for racing there?

 

You can watch some on-board stuff, you can do some laps on the simulator and try to prepare yourself the best way possible. But once you’re there it’s another kettle of fish. It’s completely different, you have so many different forces running through your car and the body with the elevation changes and the cambered corners and the different track conditions on different parts of the circuit. It’s something that you can try and prepare for but once you’re there it’s just a matter of doing as many laps as possible and keeping it on the black stuff.

 

in car

 

What was it liked going from Carrera Cup and GT3 cars to a GT4?

 

That was definitely a big challenge. That’s something that I haven’t really done before. I’ve never been in a race or on a circuit in a slower car than what the fastest car is. To be loking in the mirror quite often was quite an experience. There’s so much happening, and like you said, the track is so narrow. There’s no room for error. There’s no run off. You’re constantly looking in your mirror trying to make sure you stay out of the faster GT3 cars coming, but then you’re also trying to keep and eye on all the flag points with these different rules and making sure you can see what’s coming up next as a lot of the corners are blind. You rely on a lot of the flag points to make sure there’s nothing stopped on the other side that you can’t see. The GT4 was very different for me because it was restricted to allow myself to race in it to gain my permit B licence for the Nordschleife. It was quite under-powered so definitely one of the slowest race cars I’ve driven but it was a lot of fun once you’re in a rhythm and pushing it around the Nordschleife.

 

Was it quite overwhelming being one of 171 cars out there?

 

It’s such a crazy experience when you roll out for the race. We had a delayed start. There’s 171 cars on the front straight so it’s pretty crazy. You can’t see the front of the field, you can’t see the back of the field with the car that we’re driving. Coming down to the start line for the race start was interesting. The difference in car speed was something that was new to me and I had to adjust to really quickly with only a couple of laps in the car prior to the race start. Once you’re out there and driving around it’s a lot of fun and you sort of get one or two clear laps in terms of traffic until the faster GT3 cars are racing through and trying to overtake you. I guess it’s exciting to drive a slower and experience all that stuff, but to drive a GT3 car around there would be another dream come true.

 

grid

 

What was that first lap like around the track?

 

Yeah it was tough because I only did two laps in the Cayman of the whole Nordschleife prior to the race start. To get my licence I have to have a total of 18 laps over two races so the plan was to start me in the car and get 10 laps out of the way with the shortened race distance. I was a little bit nervous to take the start because I wasn’t too sure what to expect and how everyone else drove around you and all that. The first laps was certainly exciting. It was cool to be among the cars that were of a similar pace and see where I could maybe man up a little bit more and carry some speed and not worry so much about making a mistake. The car could do a certain corner at speed which was something that I’m still learning. T was a really cool experience and something that I’m already looking forward to doing in a couple weeks time.

 

on track

 

When does preparation start for Supercup?

 

Supercup prep is already started. I’ve finalised the team that I’m driving with and have had a couple of tests at Paul Ricard and Monza, two new circuits again for me, which was exciting. We have some formalities or a team presentation this coming weekend to announce that I’m driving with them. Then we have a couple more test prior to the first round.

 

Are you looking forward to the start of the season?

 

Yeah, I can’t wait to just get in the car and basically get into a routine of having a race weekend and getting comfortable with the cup car once more. It can’t come soon enough.

 

out car

 

Is it odd for you starting the season so late in the year?

 

Yeah, it’s been so long basically since I’ve had a race in the Cup car that I’ve been able to tune into the first two rouds of Carrera Cup Australia. They have their third round before I have my first, so I’m itching and can’t wait to get back behind the wheel in some racing conditions.

 

Obviously a thank you to Porsche Motorsport for the opportunity to drive at the Nürburgring and organising it all.

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