Gran Turismo 5: Nurburgring Nordschleife Speed Guide

       Nurburgring Nordschleife Speed Guide - Gran Turismo 5
By Mike Kimball
Version 1.6, March 9, 2011

                                                                              #

########
CONTENTS
########

Copyright Notice
Contact The Author
Foreword
Acknowledgements
Version Updates

The Car
  Formula Gran Turismo setup
Game Equipment
  G25 Pedal Mod (for use with DFP/DF GT wheel)
Shoes - On or Off?
Left-Foot Braking
Driving Tips That Have Helped Me Go Faster

Nordschleife - Step by Step
  (Includes all corner names and time splits)
Looking Forward

Addendum 1 - AMG Academy
Addendum 2 - Red Bull X1 Challenge
Addendum 3 - game progress
Addendum 4 - lap milestones
Addendum 5 - real-life lap records
How many corners are there?

================
COPYRIGHT NOTICE
================

Copyright 2011 Mike Kimball
Intended for private, personal, and educational usage only.
Originally written to be displayed on www.gamefaqs.com.

Please notify me if you've posted it somewhere else.

All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are owned by
their respective trademark and copyright holders.

==================
Contact The Author
==================

I welcome email from fellow 'Ring fans anytime.  Please mention this
guide in the subject.

Send to bloodmetalcontent at yahoo dot com.

I'm also on YouTube, my handle is FormulaKimball.  I have two vids posted
so far, one for the Nordschleife in the Vettel X1, and now finally, one
for the Formula Gran Turismo also.

========
Foreword
========

"For a quick lap at the Nurburgring, you've probably experienced more in
seven minutes and six or seven seconds than most people have experienced
in all their lives in the way of fear, in the way of tension, in the way 
of animosity towards machinery and to a racetrack."
--Jackie Stewart, 1973

First of all, as the game disclaimer states, the game may differ from real
life in terms of the cars and tracks in appearance and handling, and thus
the information in this guide also may differ from your real car in real life.
I've done one passenger lap in the Zakspeed Viper, so there are certainly
others far better suited to give advice on attacking this very challenging
and dangerous circuit in person.

I think the fact that in GT5 you must unlock the Nordschleife by passing
the first two AMG Academy levels shows how serious they are about learning
Nordschleife safety.  I guess a few too many tourists thought they were as
fast as Michael Schumacher after a few dozen GT4 laps, and then pushed
too hard and cracked up their cars.  Many elements of the game (grip,
power, reliability, and especially braking) are inevitably idealized,
and even P.D.'s masterful rendering of the track naturally can't reach the
depth of detail in the real one.  Also it is a lot easier to go fast in a game
where there is no real gravity on your body, or damage when you hit something,
or risk in pushing the car or yourself too hard. So if you go there for
real, forget about your lap time from the game and just try to remember
what you learned about the track layout, because it might be a very different
experience for you.  Even if you've clocked a 4'41, this is only a vague
notion of what it was like for Stefan Bellof's record of 6'11 in his Porsche
956 (which no one has been able to touch since then).  I don't mean to be
pedantic but it's hard to overstate this point.

By the time I visited the Nurburgring in late August 2007 I had turned
600 laps in GT4 and watched many different dvds of in-car footage.
This familiarity with the track layout deepened the experience for me - the
thrill is greatly increased when corners no longer all look the same and you
know what is coming up next.  Even with quite a lot of traffic we went BTG
in 8'20 (traffic-corrected, our average speed was over 90mph, and I'm fairly
certain we were going about 170 in Kesselchen).  That Zakspeed Viper is truly
amazing - the news that they went bankrupt and closed in December 2009 was
just devastating, as was the news that the #2 Viper was involved in a big
accident and had been written off...

In 2008 I spent 9 days at the Bertil Roos road racing school, including
visits to VIR, NJ Motorsports, and Pocono North.  The great thing about
actual racing is how much sooner you sense the car reacting to your inputs -
especially moments where the weight transfer might start to get you in trouble.
When you've only driven street cars and racing simulators, driving a formula
2000 car on a real race circuit is a revelation.  As Lewis Black has joked,
"Oh, so this is what cars are *supposed* to do."

This guide is geared for those who seek suggestions to improve their time in
GT5, and who have, at the minimum, memorized the track.  I'm not the
fastest driver in the world but I do hope this guide can inspire or help you
in some way, as it also helps me continue to evolve...

================
Acknowledgements
================

I would like to acknowledge some sources which have offered specific
inspiration for this guide: justgofaster.com, Nurburgring for Dummies by
Christopher Heiser, and of course Ben Lovejoy's awesome guide (including the
corner names and the very informative translations/history).  As for other
acknowledgements, I must mention dvds from FIA Formula 1 2000-2008, Best
Motoring International vols. 9-16 and Tsuchiya’s Drift Bible, and Skip Barber's
Going Faster.  Also, much thanks for the In Car 956 dvd featuring Derek Bell
and his commentary of a lap at Nurburgring, and the Nissan GT-R dvd featuring
fantastic laps from 'ringmeister Dirk Schoysman.  And also, the book
"Winning, a Racing Driver's Guide", by George A. Anderson, with guest authors
Carroll Smith and Bertil Roos among others.

Special thanks to all who made it possible for me to visit the Nurburgring
in person at last - our bus driver Max first and foremost for setting it all
up, my former band and crew, especially our tour manager Oise for adding the
Nurburgring day to the schedule, and all at Zakspeed for an amazing
high-speed experience.

And finally, all at Bertil Roos Racing School. No amount of time in a simulator
is as valuable as even one day at a real track, and what I learned from them
has made a huge difference.

===============
Version Updates
===============

Version 1.6
- Updates to the lap guide, some changes to gearing
- Tweaks to the car info
- New fast time and setup tweaks
- New video uploaded: 4'44.599

Version 1.5
- Small updates to Red Bull X1 Challenge info (all golds)
- Updates to the game progress including 24h Nurburgring info
- Car info (Ferrari F2007)
- A-Spec: Gold Standard on February 19, 2011
- New Formula Gran Turismo info (and a video)

Version 1.4
- At last: the Formula Gran Turismo
- Updated Red Bull X1 Challenge info
- Updated game progress
- Usual small updates to guide, car info
- New lap times

Version 1.3
- Added Red Bull X1 Challenge info
- Small updates to the lap guide
- New lap times

version 1.2
- Updated AMG Academy info (includes Expert tier)
- Addendum - game progress
- 16:9 vs 4:3 (I'm a goof)
- More adjustments and corrections
- New lap times
- Considering for next version: 6-speed gearing for lap guide

Version 1.1
- Added AMG Academy info
- Corrections (of course, first version always has a few)
- Lap times added

Version 1.0
- This guide adapted from my guide for GT4, version 2.5.


=======
The Car
=======

I'm thrilled that in GT5 the Formula Gran Turismo is still available.
It is however a little tricky to get within the main game - you may
have experienced the difficulty in getting it to reappear in the used
car lot (for me, reloading the S License tests did the trick). If you
updated your GT5 software, there is an online garage, and the Formula
Gran Turismo is always available there.  Of course you may also win
one, as I did, as a gift car for completing the A-Spec Endurance tier.

The FGT is much more difficult to drive now - very different from GT4.
The car can reach over 230mph even with full downforce (comparable
to real F1 cars at Monza, where they use very little aero), so that
tells you something... It requires a completely different driving style
now... regardless of your setup.  It actually feels like the GT40 did.
And like the GT40, you need to make sure to restore the chassis
rigidity, otherwise the car is almost undriveable.  But even brand-
new, the handling feels slower, bouncy, floaty ... dicey, so you have
to watch how many things you ask the car to do at once and be really
strict about braking in a straight line, careful throttle use, etc.
It's really easy to get your inputs jumbled and the car gets all
crossed up.  And, I'm still astonished at how less immediately an
excess of power is felt on corner exits, just long enough to surprise
you as it obligingly lobs you nose-first into the Armco if you go back
to full throttle the least bit too forcefully.  Basically, drive it
like you would drive a normal car in the wet - early and careful inputs.

Of course those who reach driver level 30 and pass the Red Bull X1
Challenge with at least bronze times will get to try the X1 in practice
at the Nordschleife.  Five minutes? Rubbish.  This thing can beat four
minutes without breaking a sweat.  I've spent a lot of time driving
the X1 S. Vettel - its gearing is more like you would expect, while
the X1 you get for silver times has really short low gears and really
long high ones, so you'll be only using 4-7, which felt pretty
strange to me but I'm getting used to it.

After I completed my Gold Standard Trophy in A-Spec and found out what my
gift car was (not a Ferrari for me), I bought Kimi's F2007, but there
is no proper hood cam.  You can choose cockpit cam (steering wheel, not
necessary for me since I'm using a wheel already), or helmet cam (too high
and too far back).  So, I set a base time once I sort of got used to helmet
cam, just to establish that the F2007 can fairly easily reach 4'59.0, but
I don't think I'll be driving it much.

Naturally every setup is made up of compromises, especially at Nurburgring
where the circuit is incredibly varied so the car setup works great in some
sections but not as well in others.  The setup you use might vary according
to your driving style as it applies to different situations on the course.

Some advice from "Winning" seems correct - that once the setup is in
the ballpark, it's rare that further tweaks themselves will result in a faster
lap time. It might make the car easier to drive though, or merely suit the
driver's style better so as to give enough confidence to improve.  Two to
tango, as it were.

Ultimately the car setup can seem to help or hinder you depending on how you
are driving that day, so its effects should be considered less important than
the ability to adjust one's driving style.  Nurburgring Nordschleife is
probably the best example of how crucial this adaptability is to getting
around the track in one piece, let alone setting a fast time.  There is a
reason some drivers get paid more than others - it's because the driving is
still the single most important factor in going faster.

That said, here is my GT5 Formula car setup and a time for reference...

Formula Gran Turismo setup:
---------------------------
[singing] B... A... L... A... N... C... E... Balance.

If you got the Formula Gran Turismo used, it helps to do engine and chassis
maintenance (and of course change oil often).  I also installed the chassis
reinforcement (the only tuning upgrade available besides tires) but not sure
it makes any difference.

In GT5 it seems like the tuning tweaks have less of an effect and overall
the cars have certain handling characteristics that aren't fully suppressed
based on the setup.  Maybe this is how cars really behave?  Also, I think
the Formula car feels very soft in GT5 relative to how it was in GT4, so
I have the springs cranked (and it's still too soft).  Maybe it's down
to tire dynamics that I'm feeling the need to compensate for, not sure.
But it definitely feels softer at its max 20.0 than it felt in GT4 on its
minimum 10.0.

Recently I'm experimenting with softening the rear to help with the grip
on corner exits, since I seem to be losing a lot of time wrestling the car
and waiting to get back on the gas.  Gave me an immediate 1.4 second jump,
plus another half second with a little more practice.  Still, I find the
main thing that stands in the way of a good lap in this car is my patience,
sometimes I just don't want to baby the throttle all the time.  Maybe that's
why so many Formula drivers love to get in a touring car now and then...

Aero: 70, 90 (max)
Transmission: manual, 242mph
LSD: 24, 60, 50

Suspension
Spring rate: 20.0, 19.0
Dampers: Front 10/10, Rear 10/5
Anti-Roll: 7, 7
Camber: 2.0, 1.8
Toe: 0, 0.3 (rear toe in)

Brakes: 4, 4
Tires: RS
Driving aids: TC 0, Stability 0, Recovery 0, ABS 1

Personal best (practice): 4'44.599

My YouTube channel: FormulaKimball
Current fastest onboard in Formula Gran Turismo (4'44.599):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyTCRXtqKlw

==============
Game Equipment
==============

If you are using the PS3 controller to drive the car, I can only say best of
luck.  Any wheel you could get would probably make you faster.

My current setup:
Logitech Driving Force GT wheel (also use DFP sometimes)
Logitech G25 pedals (modified, see below)
Sparco cockpit with a Sienna seat (reclined)

The Sparco cockpit and DF GT wheel will almost certainly improve your game
dramatically.  I've also had a G25 wheel, but it didn't last long considering
its price tag, and the paddles never worked so great... The DFP is still
great - it's heavier and smaller, but the DF GT is better if you are doing
any countersteering.  I think the Sparco cockpit is what makes the biggest
difference.  Anyway, the big weakness in the DF wheels is the pedals, which
are too light.  The pedals are great on the G25, but they aren't compatible
with the DFP wheel until you do some rewiring. I think you could also find
an adapter that does the same thing, so I would suggest trying that first.

G25 Pedal Mod (for use with DFP wheel)
--------------------------------------

  The following advice will almost certainly void your warranty, so read on
  only if you don't mind that, and also, don't attempt this unless you are
  fairly good with small electronics and are not taking chances with your
  only game equipment.  I take no responsibility if your workmanship is not
  successful.  This is just my notes on what I did to get mine to work.
  Again, I've seen adapters online that can do this so I'd suggest trying
  that first.

To make the G25 pedals work with the DFP wheel takes some rewiring, mainly
because the G25 brake wiring is backwards.  I went to Radio Shack to get
some wiring and connectors. This also requires some tools (a wire stripper,
and a Phillips screwdriver).  I also went to Home Depot for some sticky
Velcro (this is how I fasten the board so that I can get a better adjustment
on the seat, wheel, and pedal board positions).

Basically what I did is take the wiring out of one of my DFP pedal boards,
then bring it with me to buy wiring and connectors that are small enough to
adapt to it.  You'll only need to add a few inches to the length of three
of the wires due to the differing physical layout of the pedal switches.

On the wiring of the switches, you'll see that both pedals have a red and a
black wire on the left and right, plus a third middle wire which is either
white or green.  Here are the configurations that work with the DFP wheel:

DFP pedals original wiring (left to right - connectors on bottom):
  Throttle - single black, green, single red
  Brake - double black, white, double red

G25 pedals (again l-r connectors, right is nearest the red pedal pistons):
  Throttle - double black, white, double red
  Brake - *single red*, green, *single black*

Also, judicious use of electrical tape since the wires aren't grounded like
they are on the wiring loom of the G25 - cover any protruding metal where the
wire could touch; and with cutting/stripping/crimping, make it as clean as
possible.  The smallest wiring and connectors I could find were still a bit
larger than the existing, but I found with some bending I could get a nice
snug fit.  I haven't had any problems in over a year of use, though I did
decide the brake pedal is a bit too stiff, so I switched it with the clutch
pedal (and also, I put this all the way on the left, so there's an empty
space in the middle; this way I don't hit my knees on the underside of the
steering wheel clamps).  Finally, to make the Sparco cockpit accommodate the
pedals and the reclined position, I had to turn the foot panel upside down
and use a great amount of industrial strength sticky velcro... which is nice
because it holds perfectly but is still adjustable.


==================
Shoes - On or Off?
==================

My suggestion is use what you are comfortable with.  At my house we are
shoeless so I got all of my quickest times wearing socks - this seems
to be ideal for the game since it compensates for the lack of feedback and
weight in the pedals.


=================
Left-Foot Braking
=================

Many drivers say this skill is indispensable in racing - and both karting and
Formula 1 pretty much require it.  Even when you are driving a car that has
a clutch, in some situations where no gear shift is needed it can be useful
to employ left-foot braking for stability as well as a quicker braking reaction
time.  I began practicing this extensively in my old car and in the game I
use it exclusively.  Even at racing school in some corners it came in handy.
At this point it has improved my fastest time in pretty much every car, not
to mention making it easier to drive in other conditions (especially rally;
but then real rally drivers are constantly shifting both feet between
brake/gas and brake/clutch). 


==========================================
Driving Tips That Have Helped Me Go Faster
==========================================

First, always bear in mind that as you improve in one section, it changes
your approach to the next, and so on.  All it takes is time, practice, and
gradual improvements in your knowledge of the car and the track. Very often
when you are pushing your limit and going off the track, getting frustrated,
feeling like quitting ;) you are actually just on the verge of making a huge
improvement.  So just remember it's all part of the process of training your
brain and your muscle memory.  Take a rest, come back a few hours or a day
later, and you'll be surprised how easy it suddenly gets.  It was often
the same way when I was learning the guitar.

Next, if you want to improve your lap time, it is crucial to consider the
importance of corner exits over late braking.  Obviously I brake as late
as I can, but braking later improves time in hundredths of a second, while
getting on the throttle earlier for the exit improves your time in tenths.
Remember that the reverse is also true - braking too early loses time in
just hundredths, but braking too late and then getting on the throttle late
loses time in tenths.

What this means is you should work backward - get the exit point right first,
then try to improve your entry, then finally polish your braking point.
The correct braking point goes hand in hand with the correct turn-in and 
throttle point however - braking too early often invites turning too early,
which can lead to going off the track at the exit; while braking too
late means you waste a lot of time going past the ideal turn-in and in some
corners you may not make the turn at all.  The simplest thing I try to remember
is that the lap time is essentially the sum of throttle and braking, and the
finish line is a finite point, so whatever gets me there earlier is good,
and I want to avoid doing anything that makes the lap longer by adding more
time braking, coasting, feathering, or otherwise not on full throttle.

Essentially the ideal that we want to work toward (though we may not always
achieve it) is the Bertil Roos idea of Full Throttle, Full Brake, Full Time.
What this means is you are working toward an ideal that you know the track
and your car so well, that you only use either full throttle, or full brake,
but nothing else.  Again, this is an IDEAL - it doesn't mean we ignore our
techniques of light braking, feathering the throttle, line recovery, etc when
we get in trouble or when certain track areas require it.  There probably are
tracks where FT/FB/FT is possible, but I don't think the 'Ring is one of them.
Here, you just try to reach that ideal in sections that are smooth enough to
allow it.

Another valuable piece of advice is from Petter Solberg: "You have to try to
be very neat, no attack, because as soon as you try to push harder, you go
slower.  So just keep it neat and steady."  Professor Nakaya seems to concur,
that in some situations the driver's attempt to push harder will be useless
since it only increases the steering angle as well as the friction of the
wheels on the pavement, which cancels out or even negates any increase the
driver desires to make. Again, aggressive driving is often useful in racing,
but for time attack you want to be as smooth as possible, and in some corners
you just want to maintain revs but apply only enough throttle to get the right
balance.

The book "Winning" had some interesting advice also - basically that you
should not feel "comfortable" while racing - you should be going at the limit
and often fighting for grip on every corner.  What I've found is on many
corners you want to go for a certain amount of slip to get the optimum exit
and full acceleration.  This will of course make it difficult to control
wheel spin as well as keeping the rear from sliding around as you try to
steer your way out.  Another way to put it, sometimes your steering may feel
sloppy or busy as you try to manage the low traction situation known as 
maximum acceleration.

Undulating corners are all over the place at Nordschleife, but they are not
as friendly and predictable as a track like Suzuka, so you will need to think
about how weight transfer affects braking and throttle as your car alternates
quickly between understeer and oversteer, often in the same corner - not easy
to do in a video game, where the vertical changes aren't always visually
obvious.  Thankfully, PS3 games seem to have improved this dramatically over
the way most of them were on the PS2.  If you find spots where you tend to
spin out even with steady throttle and steering input, an undulation may be
the cause. In some cases it can also be crowned pavement but this is the
same thing, just laterally.

Once you feel really dialed in after many laps of practice, you'll start to
experience feeling like it's just basic flowing lines, using as smooth and
steady inputs as you can manage, adjusting the acceleration for the shape of
each corner.  (I can hear Bruce Lee saying "Don't think!  Feeeeeeeel...")
Your mind is clear and calm because your body is just nailing each section.
When you feel it, it is magic.

Ok, now it's time to take a lap around the track!

===========================
Nordschleife - Step by Step
===========================

Note: Sadly a lot of the graffiti seems to be gone in GT5, but frequently
I look at the kerbs - front edges for braking points, back edges for turn
in points, etc.  There is still graffiti in some particular spots though,
so learn where this is - usually it marks particularly difficult corners
where you need to know the last possible spot to brake or turn in.

Remember also that the track is far more bumpy in GT5 than it was in GT4,
and the kerbs aren't as friendly either.  Or the cambers.  Or the corner
lines, or the undulations.  Basically way more places to cause mistakes.
If you've played NFS:S in the meantime between GT4 and now, you may have
some idea of where the track has changed (gaming-wise, thanks to the
greater capabilities of the PS3) more toward how the track actually is.

Again, the gearing is for the Formula Gran Turismo, and has changed slightly
in some places since you can't tweak the individual gear ratios.  For the X1
the gearing depends on which one you are driving (S. Vettel [bronze] or the
black [silver] car from the X1 Challenges) and how much downforce you have
dialed in - if you have it maxed out and use the black X1, you won't
need to shift much and will only use gears 4-7.  If you actually won
either of these cars then I doubt you really need my advice :)


T13 (grandstand section)
------------------------

5th - Brake-4-3 - left - 3-4-5 - right bend - 6th - right - 7th - left bend

Right off the bat, the first right is now slippery, easy to mess up and 
go wide left into the grass, or spin into the wall on the right.

If you got a good exit from the final right turn of Hohenrain, you should be
coming toward the start/finish straight accelerating from 3rd gear through 4th
and 5th, tracking to the right side, and then braking down to 2nd gear
for the first left.  Because it's downhill, it's easy to miss the apex here.

Flat out into 6th gear for the second right, which is slightly more difficult
than it was in GT4, so anticipate for an early turn in and squeeze out of
the wheel a bit on the exit (most other cars won't do this flat - one gear
change down).  7th gear before you brake for the next section.

Hatzenbach (Hatzen Brook)
-------------------------

Brake-6-5-left-4 - double right - 5th - left - 4th - right, quick left

I have started taking the left while downshifting all the way to 4th so I can 
throttle earlier through the right; I think it also keeps the rear end a bit
more stable.  Back up to 5th for the next left about where the path is,
throttle through, then keep the revs high in 4th to throttle to the right, then
dab the brakes to medium revs in 4th for the hard throttle to the left, exiting
wide and heading to the next section in 5th gear.

Hocheichen (Great Oaks)
-----------------------

Brake-4th - right - careful throttle - left - flat 5-6-7

This section seems tighter than in GT4 - don't be late here.  I've found out
all sorts of ways to crash here in GT5...

As you approach the first right, brake fairly early down to 4th gear,
turn in and give it some gas toward the crest; this spot needs a very delicate
touch on the throttle to avoid spinning as the road drops under you.

If I make it this far without crashing the Formula Gran Turismo, I'm relieved,
since it's easy to blow laps anywhere in Hatzenbach or Hochichen.

Quiddelbacher Hohe (Quiddelbach Height)
---------------------------------------
T1

Flat - over crest - right

This section is flat out but bumpy, stick to the basics and you should reach
7th gear before the brutal crest at the start of the next section.

Flugplatz (Airfield, literally "Flying Place")
----------------------------------------------

Flat - over crest - settle - double right - left - left

Easier than in GT4.

Go over the left center of the crest as straight as you can and try not to
come off the throttle.  You should have a beat to let the car settle before
heading into the double-apex right-hander.  This corner is very easy to get
wrong going flat out at this speed, but this is all flat in 7th gear if you
take it smoothly enough.  Barely touch the first apex, and you should
come around the second one in a single arc.  Keep going flat out into the
next section.

Schwedenkreuz (Swedish Cross)
-----------------------------

Flat 7th - left - crest - careful long bumpy left - still flat

This is all flat out, in 7th gear.  Go over the crest near the middle or
slightly right but go as straight as possible.  The next long left is totally
flat, but you need to be very gentle with the turn in, and there is a bump
about half-way through that can be unsettling.  Also, try not to touch the
inside kerb which tends to throw off your balance.  Try to make the car
track slightly left of center as you get ready to brake hard down to 4th
into the next section.

Aremberg
--------
T2 

BRAKE-6-5-4 - long right - flat on exit

It's important for your time to get a good exit here so concentrate on your
braking point and get a good line. I usually start braking just where the edge
of the kerb ends on the left.  This is a somewhat long right-hander so
throttle control is important. If you can do this without 3rd gear it will
improve your time but 4th can also cause a lot of understeer.  Try to get a
straight line for good acceleration on the exit toward the bridge.  You can
take a lot of kerb on the exit if you have to but avoid it normally.

Fuchsrohre (Foxhole or "Fox's Neck")
------------------------------------

Flat to 7th left-right-left - right - left - 6th - left

Drive through the bends as straight as you can, touching each kerb, until you
approach the compression that leads up the hill to the left.  You can stay
completely flat all the way to 7th gear. As you come up the hill stay to the
right, and the left over the crest is rather delicate now, but go as straight
as you can, or better turn early and avoid the kerb, then quickly drop to 5th
for the next bit.  The section after the crest is extremely bumpy now, so
it takes a delicate touch to stay on the track.

Adenauer Forst (Adenau Forest)
------------------------------
T3  

Dab 5th - right - brake-4-left-3 - early left - right - 4th - exit flat 5-6-7

It is really easy to screw up this section, so think ahead.

Keep your revs steady in 5th for the right, hugging the kerb without
touching it, then as the track straightens drop to 3rd to prepare for the
"newbie corner".  Avoid braking too late since a really good final exit is more
important.  Turn left early to set up the right. If you can avoid the kerb on
the right then do so, but the Formula car may have other ideas.  If you are
patient and focus on setting up early throttle for the right and a good exit,
it's a lot easier to find time here.

You should be well into 5th gear as you pass the section timer.  Continue
accelerating flat out into 7th for the next section.

Metzgesfeld (Metzge's Field)
----------------------------

Flat - left - brake-6-5-4 - left - 5th - right - 6th

This is another easy spot to lose control, so be very careful with your line
and definitely avoid the kerb on the inside left.  Keep it flat in 7th gear all
the way through the left, then brake down to 4th for the next left.  Watch the
kerb and in 4th the throttle can be tricky at first (it's also very boggy if
you turn in too late).  5th gear by the right turn apex and down the hill.
It gets very slippery through this section so be careful with your throttle.
You may reach 6th briefly before the next braking.

Kallenhard (Kallen Forest)
--------------------------

Brake-5-4-3 - right - 4-5-6

Let the car track left as you come down the hill, and you want to brake fairly
early and drop back to 3rd.  The kerb on the inside right is a good reference,
brake at its front edge.  Apex late but get on the inside until you can see
a clear exit, shift to 4th, and track to the outside.  Continue through 5th
and 6th as you approach the next scary section of the track.

Spiegelkurve (unofficial, "Mirror Curve")
-----------------------------------------

Flat 6th - left-right - sort out messy exit

You know, this isn't anywhere near as difficult now.  The wide line works
without too much drama now, and there is space to work with if you mess
up before the next part.


"Miss-Hit-Miss" (also Drei Rechte, "Three Rights")
--------------------------------------------------

6th - bleed revs - miss - hit - flat 6th - miss

This is another place where the turns feel like they change on you so you don't
want to be accelerating and tightening your turning arc at the same time.  Again
it feels like this is easier, the tendency is to understeer after the third
right.  If you get the car to the right spot on the "hit" kerb then you can keep
the throttle flat for the exit without worrying about the edge of the track too
much.  I'd leave it in 6th here.

Wehrseifen (Resistance Valley)
------------------------------
T4 

Brake-5-4-right-3-2 - left - right - 4th - exit - flat 5-6

This is a very slow corner where much time can be lost, so it's important
to be as accurate as possible.  Get your braking done early - focus on
making a really good exit through the left and right.  Go too deep and
you'll only be losing time.

If you go to 2nd, make sure to keep the revs high.  Smoothly accelerate in 3rd
for the left and get to 4th for the following right.  Flat to 5th and 6th toward
the next section.

Breidscheid
-----------

Right bend - brake-5-4 - double left watch the wall - 5th

There's a concrete wall here for a reason.  Very easy to lose it here not
only by braking too late, but just generally from poor grip through the middle
of the corner - keep your rear end in check and try to be precise.

Approach the right bend in 6th gear but start braking for the left somewhat
early - you want to be in 4th and close to the inside.  The pavement is
not grippy and difficult to do with full throttle, and going too wide makes it
hard to set up the following right turn.  Get 5th on the exit and the car
will get some acceleration to the next bit.  Line the car up as straight as
you can leading to the next right.

Ex-Muhle (Water Mill)
---------------------

Bumpy - early, light brake 4th - minimum speed, light power - right - flat 5-6

This section is a little less delicate than before.  The right is tricky, so
time your turning and throttle with suspension compression to make it easier;
if you are out of sync you'll find sluggish turning and wheel spin.

Approach in 5th gear and brake lightly and early since it gets bumpy, uphill,
and off camber - the entry will understeer so use the graffiti and turn in
somewhat early, staying tight on the apex.  Little bit of crest here so
release your arc and get good throttle on the exit, but if you go too wide
it will take a while to get back on the power.  Also be careful accelerating up
the hill - you should get up to 5th before the crest but if you push too hard
you might get wheel spin and possibly lose the rear. Continue flat out through
6th gear into the next section.

Lauda Links
-----------

Flat 7th - left

In the Formula car there isn't much to this - stay hard on the throttle and you
should reach 7th gear near the apex, after which you can keep accelerating
down the hill and track a bit off to the left before the next section.

Bergwerk (Mine, literally "Mountain Work")
------------------------------------------

Brake-6-5-4 - right - flat 5-6-7

Similar to Ex-Muhle though not as delicate, this is one of the most important
corners for getting a strong exit.  This corner's odd shape and weird camber
make most attempts to brake late end in understeer followed by tracking wide
into the Armco - usually I use the Bergwerk sign on the right as a reference,
braking at or just after it.  Brake consistently to 4th, and though this is
a late apex corner, the entry is a bit earlier than you may think because of
the uphill and the camber.  Work the throttle patiently and get a good exit.
The exit is also tricky, there are weird dips and crowns that can easily
throw you off if you don't pay attention to them.

Kesselchen (Little Valley, "Little Bottom")
-------------------------------------------
T5 

Flat 7th - left-left-left-left, left, right, right-left

Easy to underestimate this section - it is much bumpier now, and one of the
lefts is more difficult to do flat-out in most cars.

The Formula car easily takes this flat all the way through.  There is a series
of left bends where you should reach 7th gear.  The next right curves are quite
bumpy, which is one place where stability control can freak out and careen you
into the Armco.  After this there is a quick right-left, so try to miss-hit the
split kerbs on the right, then just touch the edge of the kerb on the left. Aim
for a straight line that will put you on the kerb up close to the Armco at the
right edge, and brace for the next section.

Mutkurve (Courage Curve, also Angstkurve, "Fear curve") 
-------------------------------------------------------
T6 

Flat 7th - double left

The formula car takes this easy flat now.  Just make sure you use a good line.
Get tight inside for the first apex and then track toward the outside.

Klostertal (Convent Valley)
---------------------------

Flat 7th - left - early right - crest - relaxed exit

Turn early with a lot of anticipation.

There's a big bump on the right here now, so you'll have to consider that
when establishing your line.  But, with the right rhythm and setup this
also isn't too difficult in the Formula Gran Turismo now.

Steilstrecke (Steep Stretch)
----------------------------

BRAKE-6-5-4-3 - double right - 4th - exit - 5-6

This tight curve is hidden by a crest that you will go over flat out, then
brake just before the kerb on the left drop to 3rd.  This is another curve
that has a couple of apexes, and it's really slippery now also.  Enter in
3rd gear, 4th past the second apex.  There are gentle bends leading to the
next section but you can easily go straight and keep accelerating, just
reaching 6th gear before dropping hard back to 3rd again.

Karussell
---------

Brake-5-4-3 - long left - exit - 4th - two rights flat 5-6

You can make or lose a lot of time here because of how slow and long it is.
However, I think the feel of the banking is much better here now. The main
thing is your entry - how you drop in (straight) has a lot to do with
how well you stay in.

This tight banked corner is easiest if you keep the car inside but not all the
way to the kerb, and keep the revs steady in 3rd, slowly accelerating, until
you see the exit is close, where you can give it more if your car is still in
the banking.  Pop over the last corner stone and start throttling hard toward
the next section.

Hohe Acht (High Lookout, after the hut)
---------------------------------------
T7 

Left - brake-5 - left - right - throttle - Brake-4 - right - Flat 5th

You should be high in 6th gear, after exiting Karussell and passing the tricky 
left-hander flat out - sometimes I get 7th before dropping to 5th for the
tight left-right toward the summit.  Be patient with the throttle and set up
a good line - the rear grip goes away as you crest so be gentle.  Brake early
down to 4th for the right and stay tight on the inside so you can be back
on the throttle hard at the apex.

Hedwigshohe (Hedwig's Height)
-----------------------------

Left - 6th - right - light brake 5th - left

Believe it or not you can take this flat in 6th if you get the right line, but
you have to keep the car steady and smooth on the steering before you tap the
brake at the exit and into 5th for the next curve.  Getting this wrong will
totally blow your balance into...

Wipperman (Seesaw Man)
----------------------

Left - downhill right - 6th - Brake-5th - uphill right

This spot is an easy place to lose it because of the abrupt way that it goes
downhill, and when I went to the real track we saw an accident here. This
tricky left-right gets a bit snappy and has a tendency to toss you right off
the track, so you'll find is a lot easier in the Formula if you concentrate
on keeping the car balanced.  This is in 5th gear now, and I'm usually
aiming to take some kerb for the right.  As you approach the uphill avoid
braking too late since it will cause understeer that will probably put you
on the grass as you go over the crest.  I stay in 5th if I can.

Eschbach (Ash Brook)
--------------------

Brake-4 - double left - 5th

Understeer then oversteer.  Great gallery point at the exit...

Brake somewhat early to drop back to 4th for the downhill double left
hander, which is another part where it is easy to miss the entry and/or
lose the rear.  Wait for the car to settle between apexes before you shift
to 5th gear for the second apex.  Then it's back to 4th for the next section.

Starting here there are nice white bands of graffiti to help you find good
braking points.

Brunnchen (Little Well)
-----------------------

Brake-4th - right - 5th - brake-4th - right - 5th

This is another dance between 4th and 5th gears.  The first right hander is
very easy to overcook as it is downhill, and very often you will find yourself
all the way to the left on the exit, almost into the grass.  If you can keep
just the left wheels on the kerb you will still be able to get good throttle
in 5th before the next right, again dropping to 4th for the turn and back to
5th as the car tracks to the outside of the exit (but be especially careful
here, the sand will lose you a lot of time).  There is a certain melody
with the revs, dropping to 4th slightly lower each time.

Eiskurve (Ice Curve)
--------------------
T8 

Brake-4th - early left - 5th through right - 6-7

Tons of crowned pavement through here.

This left-hander is again taken in 4th, but it seems longer and goes into a
tricky right hander on the exit.  I've started braking earlier (using the white
graffiti as a braking reference - again like Wehrseifen, if you find the left
is difficult to make it means you're too deep) so I can use more throttle.  The
pavement also crowns and is really slippery (hence the name), so stay in the
middle of the pavement as you accelerate into 5th and 6th gears for the next
section.

Pflanzgarten 1 (Plant Garden)
-----------------------------

Flat 7th - gentle brake - over crest STRAIGHT - settle-dab-6th-double right

The wavy left-right can be taken flat, sticking to the basics but ending
up slightly to the left as you go over the little jump at the bottom.  
Like other jumps, this seems less severe now, so the main trick is not to
go too wide and get caught by the grass as you dab into 6th and head into
the tricky double right.  Keep accelerating but of course be smooth as you
sweep through toward the next part.  Your exit here can make or lose
considerable time all the way to Schwalbenschwanz.

Sprunghugel (Leap Hill)
------------------------

Moderate - left - 7th before exit - go STRAIGHT over left side of drop

This first left is another easy place to mess up and not be in the right
position to track to the rumble strip on the right side of the exit.  The
slippery entry is the part that is tricky now - the drop really isn't
a problem anymore.

Pflanzgarten 2
--------------
T9 

Flat 7th - hook up with dark inside patches - right, left-right, left

This section is flat out in 7th and is much easier than in GT4 since the
car feels softer and absorbs the pavement.  Or maybe the pavement has
been resurfaced...

Schwalbenschwanz (Swallow Tail)
-------------------------------

Flat 7th - dab 6th - right - brake-5-4 - left - 5th

This section gets slippery, and once you start sliding it can get very ugly no
matter what attempts to brake/downshift/countersteer you use.  I do this in 
6th in GT5, still working up to using 7th.  The trick is dab and turn early,
get inside near the kerb and smoothly relax the exit.  I don't worry about
crowning since it feels like you can just use traditional lines now. Brake
quickly to 4th for the left turn-in.  5th gear as you head on to the next part.

Kleinekarussell (Little Karussell)
----------------------------------

Brake-4-3 - drop into banking left - shift 4th while popping out - flat 5-6

MUCH better than in GT4 or NFS:S.

It's all too easy to underestimate this important corner.  But since it is
flat from here on, it's crucial to do this well.  Approach in 5th and
there is a change in the pavement that leaves a nice line for a braking
reference, to 3rd.  Drop about half the car inside and try to shift
to 4th just as you pop out over the right corner of the last paving block.
Continue through 5th, and into 6th for the approach to the next corner.

Galgenkopf (Gallow Hill)
------------------------

Dab 6th - don't touch kerbs - 6th - right - right - right relaxed - exit

Not to be underestimated, but it's easier than in GT4.

The trick is getting the right hand apex - you definitely do not want to hit
the kerb as you will almost certainly bounce and crash into the Armco, but if
you go the slightest bit too wide you will not stay on the track.    

Try to anticipate the kerb for the second right hander and dive in.  Careful
with the rear, but it's fine if your line is good.

Dottinger Hohe (Dottingen High)
-------------------------------
T10 

Flat 7th - looooong straight

Not much to this - keep it flat in 7th and stick just off center to the right.
The car should be reaching top speed as you start on the incline before the
bridge, let the car go all the way right...

Antoniusbuche (Antonius' Beech)
-------------------------------
T11 

Flat 7th - left - down hill

Turn early and ease through the left hander, totally wide open.  You will get
the T11 section time as you pass under the bridge.  Keep it flat out down the
hill...

Tiergarten (Animal Garden)
--------------------------

Flat 7th - left-right

This section near the end leads to a left-right that you can take flat out in
the Formula car, so don't lift or anything, just stick to the basics and go as
fast as you can.  Once you clear the right and are going straight, immediately
drop to 6th for the final section...

Hohenrain (Raised Boundary)
---------------------------
L1

Brake-6-5-left-4-3 - right-4th-left - brake - 3rd - right - 4-5

I enter this left while braking down all in one motion...

Cut to the inside left while braking into 5th, straighten and drop quickly 
down to 3rd for the right hander of the chicane, keeping the revs high but
steady since this corner is an easy place to spoil what might have been a
stellar lap time.  I stay off the kerbs and shift to 4th just after the apex
of the right, going into the left with full throttle. Brake to 3rd and get
ready for the final right-hander.  Aim for the Armco at the apex and just
miss it - don't go too wide as you make your last effort at throttling hard
up the hill to the finish.  This corner is slippery and I've blown laps here
several times.  You should just make 5th gear as you cross and get your
final lap time.


========================
Addendum 1 - AMG Academy
========================

Among the Special challenges in Gran Turismo 5 is the new AMG Academy,
a series that is meant to teach you how to lap the Nordschleife safely,
section by section.  Each of four tiers is split into five segments - the
first four are the quarters of the track, followed by a fifth challenge
which requires a full lap in traffic (complete with boneheaded-tourist
driving styles, so be alert).  Tiers 1 and 3 are in the old gull-wing
Merc, while Tiers 2 and 4 are in the new SLS AMG; tiers 1-2 are dry,
while 3-4 are wet.

A note on passing slower traffic - one must try to follow the German
rule of drive-right (rechtsfahren) which means drive on the right, pass
on the left.  This principle of lane discipline means it is technically
illegal to hog the left lane, or pass on the right.  I say technically
because since this is a race track as well as a one-way toll road, and
obviously racing technique usually is pass on the inside (which could
of course be the left or right), you sometimes may find yourself having
to choose the safer of these two directives depending on the situation.
Another way to put it, if you find that the car in front has not shown
any acknowledgement that you are trying to pass, or let's say you catch
a car that has committed to the left line as you are both going to hard
braking, you may have to break the rechtsfahren rule to pass safely.
The game isn't going to penalize you for doing this on rare occasions,
so go for it, but try to practice always passing on the left.

To unlock the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Practice and Arcade mode, you must
first complete the Beginning and Intermediate AMG challenges with Bronze
times (this should be fairly easy if you know the track, and even the
gold times are pretty generous if you know the track really well). Silver
will unlock the 4-hour Endurance, Gold will unlock the 24-hour (though
you will still need high driver levels to get to these).

Obviously the first two tiers are fairly accessible since their experience
levels are lower - the second two are steeper and will take longer to
unlock in the first place.  However, I found even the gold times in the
Advanced and Expert AMG tiers were easy enough to hit.  The other cool
thing is the Expert tier is worth a lot of experience and credits, so
your level 24 will fill up very quickly.  And, for getting all golds
in the Expert tier, the prize car is the 2003 SLR McLaren.

Driving fast in the wet is not unlike driving a car with way too much power
and no grip - basically you have to think ahead a lot more and don't even
think of trying to "push harder" - you'll probably just go slower, or crash.
I just try to do everything smooth and early, and remember the advice for
wet driving of "drag strips and braking zones", along with "middle-middle-
middle" somewhat.  Depends on the car, too, since the old gull-wing tends
to understeer (especially on braking) so you may actually want to use the
wet to kick out the tail slightly in some places.


==================================
Addendum 2 - Red Bull X1 Challenge
==================================

"No, no, no, light speed is too slow; yes, we're gonna have to go right to...
ludicrous speed!"

When you get to driver level 30, the Red Bull X1 Challenge is unlocked
in the Special series.  If you can master this difficult challenge, you will
win a car that can lap the Nordschleife in well under four minutes, or
roughly half the time that a GT-R takes, and is capable of reaching
285 miles per hour or more.  The car is like nothing you have ever driven,
and demands skill and concentration like you've never needed before.

Amazingly, you win an X1 for getting all three bronzes (S. Vettel), and another
if you can get all three silvers and another for all gold.  But this won't be
easy - you must know the three tracks extremely well, plus somehow adapt to
lap times that will be at least 20 seconds faster than anything you may have
done before.  It truly feels like you are playing with the fast forward
button on, it is that quick.  The other rewards are also generous - 235,000
credits and 463,640 experience points for bronze, 329,000 and 649,100 for
silver, and 470,000 and 927,280 if you hit a gold time.  This will quickly
take you through driver levels 31-33, but I repeat, it will not be easy -
you won't be able to get by with improvisation like you can with the rally
challenges for example.  This challenge is meant to be exclusive.  In fact,
it's almost arbitrarily difficult - even the demo car is only hitting a
silver time.

The main advice I can give is, push and push hard.  The car will have
racing soft tires on, and you will literally be amazed at the grip
available.  The biggest problem you will have in hitting even the
bronze times is that the car doesn't respond well to anything less
than full throttle - it requires finesse, but mostly it requires
commitment.  You can't miss apexes, either - you need to be very
precise.  The biggest problem you'll deal with as you reach silver and
attempt gold is the understeer, which is extremely pronounced especially
at Suzuka (scrubbing front tires on every corner).  I really wish
I could tweak the diff - right now the setup produces understeer
almost no matter what you do (lift, brake, throttle...) and you really
have to be spacky to get it loose.  One last thing - push the boundaries
as much as you can without getting disqualified, since the ghost car
does the same thing (in chicanes, runoff, etc). Keep in mind that the
target time for gold doesn't involve passing the lead car - you just
have to get close enough, so don't give up.

Avoiding understeer in the X1:
- Don't use TC (floor it out of the pits, let the tires spin)
- Use the DFP wheel if you have one (except at Suzuka)
- DF GT: add rear braking force (and/or cut front brakes a bit)
- Don't upshift early for corner exits (utilize high revs)
- Minimize throttle lifts
- Don't brake too deep
- Utilize lateral weight transfer
- Very clean footwork

Gold at Monza is reasonably possible to get without driving yourself mad,
I was able to do it the first day and I suspect many others had similar
success with it. But it took me several nights to gold the Nurburgring GP
and I've never been so exhausted as I was in finally getting that 2'07.9.
And Suzuka, they should rename the X1 Suzuka round "The Understeer
Challenge" - I've never been more out of my mind with frustration and
the proverbial string of obscenities in the heat of battle was definitely
flowing profusely...  However, I finally got a 2'09.9 by going back to
the DF GT (DFP is too slow at quick hard changes in direction, especially
the last chicane).


==========================
Addendum 3 - game progress
==========================

A-Spec Level 40 - The Grind is over.  B-Spec Level 7 - coaching novice.

I've had the game for ten weeks, and GT5 has nearly every improvement
I wanted.  It's just epic.  They even brought back the Rome track, which
is really fun not only for the scenery but is actually a nice, somewhat
tricky circuit.  GT5 has some flaws of course, but overall it is still
the best racing game there is.

First two weeks: I finished all of the License tests, Special
challenges, and A-Spec series Beginner-Expert, and most of Extreme also.
(By "finished" I mean all golds - I learned that lesson in GT4 that
if you eventually want the 100% you have to win everything, so it's
worthwhile to do this initially instead of going back through later
and trying to find the bronze and silver stragglers.)

Third week: was all about the Endurance series... until I reached
level 30 and unlocked the Red Bull X1 Challenge.  Getting to level 30
was tough though - most of the endurance races aren't enough by
themselves to advance to the next driver level that is required to
do the next endurance race.  I actually ran the Laguna race twice,
and the Indy 500 four times, just to be able to get to the next level
without repeating a lot of the other races.  But it was all worth it.


Endurance races for grinding:
-----------------------------

"That's all it takes, really - pressure... and time."

The grinding really started after I finished the 24h Le Mans race, when
I found out just how far I had to go to reach Level 40 and unlock the
final race (24h Nurburgring). Reaching Level 40 requires almost 50% more
experience than the TOTAL that you needed to get to level 36 from zero.
So just to unlock one last race in A-Spec required another 20 million
experience points.  There was a moment of despair, but then I also
I found out the reward cars for completing the race and therefore
the Endurance tier.  The gift car is a level 24, which only applies to
the Ferrari F1 cars (2007 or 2010), or the Formula Gran Turismo.
I formed a plan (realizing I'd never be happy until I was able to
complete that last 24h Nurburgring race), and went for it.

I did 17 4-hour Nurburgring races, calling it "practice"; using
the most ridiculous fast car that can spend half the time parked
and still win the race. I'm a big believer in legit wins (I did
my first 4h Nurb in the '69 Corvette), but the gloves come off
for grinding.  My car of choice is of course the black X1.  There
are a few times when I just don't want to do another 4h Nurb enduro,
so I even went as far as repeating the 24h Le Mans more than once.
Here are the rough stats for each of the races I'd recommend, and
the approximate race time in the X1, plus the rough experience points,
so it's for you to choose what is a good value for your time...

4-hour Nurburgring - 28 laps (2:15); 490,000

Suzuka 1000km - 172 laps (3:30 if it's dry); 618,000

Laguna - 90 laps (75 minutes); 158,000

24-hour Le Mans - 350-380 laps (16-17 hours); 4,500,000

Indy 500 - 200 laps (2:15); 250,000

And yes, I've already done one engine rebuild on the black X1 - took
it from a low hp of around 1480 back up to a formidable 1555hp, all for
only a half million (which is a bargain considering what rebuilds cost
for almost any other race car).


24-hour Nurburgring:
--------------------

My first 24h Nurburgring was dry, so the pace of the lead car was about
7 laps per hour, or around 168 laps total (lessened by how many times
he got punted for obstructing the track when I was lapping him).  The
lighting effects during the 24h Nurburgring are spectacular - well
worth the wait and the effort of unlocking it (I thought the same thing
about Le Mans, so cool to race at night, enjoy the fireworks, etc).
Actually they are so fascinating that in both races I have gotten
distracted and run off the track occasionally.  Racing the Nordschleife
at night is exhilarating, and most of the corners are blind anyway...
but you'll still find it very tricky to race it in the dark.

I was a little disappointed at first when I redeemed my level 24 gift
car - the game gave me another Formula Gran Turismo (the green and yellow
one) instead of one of the Ferraris.  However, considering I bought my
blue/black FGT used, and the engine/chassis rebuilds are quite expensive,
it's nice to have a new one for comparison.  I did blow 12.5 million
on the Ferrari 2007, but it took some getting used to and isn't exactly
a thrill to drive.  The handling is pretty good, but none of the camera
angles are ideal.

I'm not sure if the sudden 5-second improvement in my Formula Gran Turismo
is down to a new engine and chassis, or hundreds of laps of practice 
while grinding away at level 40 and the 24h Nurburgring, or maybe both.


===========================
Addendum 4 - lap milestones
===========================

Most people's advice is absolutely correct: that it takes about 100
laps just to consider oneself minimally familiar with the track.  But
refining from there can take exponentially more practice... In GT4
I eventually found that every 100-200 laps I did yielded another
half-second improvement.

This is all a-spec only, and of course I don't count any pesky late-nite
frustrating partial spin-and-bounce-off-Armco-screw-this-hit-restart laps
(even if I wipe out at Galgenkopf).

Feel free to skip this section if you like, it's mainly for me (again
I don't claim to have the fastest times, these are just my personal bests).
I think I'm kinda slow for having done so many laps, but this is the main
track where I develop my skill and I'm still learning...

--------- GT4 --------------------------
Lap   85: New record practice - 5'29.297
Lap  185: Beat Mission 34 - 9'12.394
Lap  270: Broke 5'10 in practice - 5'09.297
Lap  410: Break 5'00 in practice - 4'59.715
Lap  600: Visited Nurburgring in person in August 2007
Lap  660: Made 4'55 in practice - 4'55.491
Lap 1000: New record practice - 4'54.582
Lap 1241: New record arcade - 4'46.479
Lap 1363: Break 5'00 in Formula GT 15-lap - 4'59.048
Lap 2088: Break 78-minute Formula GT 15-lap - 1:17'57.249
Lap 2930: New record arcade - 4'41.769
Lap 3002: New fastest flying L15 Formula GT - 4'53.939
Lap 3090: Break 77-minute Formula GT 15-lap - 1:16'55.246
Lap 3660: New record arcade - 4'40.824
Lap 3672: New record practice - 4'48.974
Lap 3767: Combined GT4/NFS Shift Nordschleife laps: 4000
Lap 3881: Latest GT4 lap count (NFS:S laps, 814; total 4695)
--------- GT4 --------------------------

--------- GT5 --------------------------
Lap    5: Gold (barely ;) in AMG Academy Intermediate: 7'04.998
Lap   11: Gold in AMG Academy Advanced (wet): 9'33.458
Lap   18: Personal best, GT-R (arcade, defaults) - 7'25.439 (trophy)
Lap   19: Zonda R with display corrected (arcade, default) - 6'23.651
Lap   24: Gold in AMG Academy Expert (wet): 8'22.332
Lap   50: Red Bull X1 S. Vettel (RH, stock): 3'43.222
Lap   52: Full 24h course, Red Bull X1 S. Vettel (RH, stock): 4'38.677
Lap   89: Formula Gran Turismo (Nordschleife only): 4'56.251
Lap  119: Combined Gran Turismo Nordschleife laps (GT4/GT5): 4000
Lap  305: Combined GT4/NFS:S/GT5 Nordschleife laps: 5000
Lap  500: Red Bull X1, 4-hr Nurburgring Type V best lap: 4'12.220
Lap  734: Finished 24-hr Nurburgring A-Spec (result: Gold Standard Trophy)
Lap  736: Ferrari F2007 shakedown Nordschleife: 4'59.0
Lap  738: Formula Gran Turismo (new) Nordschleife: 4'49.310
Lap  743: Red Bull X1 Vettel Nordschleife: 3'21.318
Lap  757: Formula Gran Turismo Nordschleife: 4'44.599


==================================
Addendum 5 - real-life lap records
==================================

6'11.13 - Stefan Bellof's time stands to this day as the lap record
at the Nordschleife.  All of the top fastest times were set during
qualifying in the 1983 Sports Car Championships, the final year that
series ran on the Nordschleife, by drivers of the Porsche 956.  If you
have the Porsche 956 In-Car dvd, you are basically viewing the 5th
fastest lap at around 6'41, but as Derek Bell was Bellof's partner in
that race, the car he is driving was the car that set the world record.
As funny as it is when Bell refers to Jackie Ickx who passes him at
Aremberg on a "fast lap", he's still talking about a 25-second
difference in pace. Pretty cool to see some of the names in this
historic starting grid...

1. 6'11.13: Bellof/Bell Rothmans #2
2. 6'16.85: Ickx/Mass Rothmans #1
3. 6'31.59: Wollek/Johansson Joest
4. 6'39.52: Rosberg/Lammers Canon
5. 6'41.17: Patrese/Alboreto Lancia Martini
6. 6'42.1:  Fitzpatrick/Hobbes JDavid

===========================
How many corners are there?
===========================

107, in my opinion - not including the GP circuit of course.

I have heard many different counts over the years from dvds, online,
or elsewhere.  I've heard numbers in the 70s all the way to 173.  I can
understand the low numbers but I do wonder how they got the high counts
even if you included the GP circuit.  It's easy to disregard a bend
if you are going slow enough, but even in an F1 car I don't see where
the numbers could have gone so high unless you start numbering by
some arbitrary angle size. 

When I sat down and counted, both on a slow recon lap followed by a
quick lap to double-check, I considered what changes of direction
required significant steering inputs, and my count is 107 corners.
I hope if you went through my guide to count the lefts and rights,
you will find the same number.

==================
Thanks for reading
==================

Again, I hope this humble labor has helped or inspired you in some way.
Thank you for reading!


"The various methods cannot be expressed in writing... It is
difficult to express it clearly... You must practice constantly."
--Miyamoto Musashi, 1645

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