We hope you enjoyed part one of our Castrol EDGE Experience Nurburgring story. It’s our attempt to bring the experience to those who did not manage to make it to the finals and win the grand prize of an experience of a lifetime at the ‘Ring. Here is part two – our first day at the ‘Ring, where we hit the Nurburgring GP circuit.

After registering and checking in to the hotel where we’d be spending the next two nights, we went for dinner. The Lindner Hotel is pretty much at the center of the action, and access to the GP circuit is as simple as a 10 minute walk down the street from the hotel.

Because of the Nurburgring’s status as a cultural phenomenon rather than just a racetrack, the entire area has been developed like an adult’s theme park. I love the black and yellow signboards around the area.

There’s also a roller coaster of sorts that passes by the hotel and heads into the ‘Ring shopping complex across the road but we hear it isn’t operational yet. In the shopping complex there’s an in-door gokart track, shops to buy souvenirs, and even a ‘Ring museum for kids.

After a good night’s rest, it was time to wake up early in the morning to walk to the Nurburgring GP circuit, where we would be doing various exercises for the first day at the ‘Ring, to prepare us for the Green Hell which we would be driving on the next day.

We were told that we were actually very lucky as the weather for our first day was one of the best ever compared to what it was for the past couple of days. It was bright and sunny with clear blue skies, which meant things were very easy for us as the GP circuit was dry and walking from one station to the other could be done without having to worry about shielding ourselves from the rain. This lasted only a day though, as the next day the weather was completely different it actually started snowing for a short while. But we’ll come to that in the third and final story.

The Castrol EDGE Experience Nurburgring exercises were conducted by BMW’s Driver Training academy. We were going to go through various safety driving exercises, as well as do a couple of pace laps around the GP circuit.

From what I’ve found out by looking things up online, the program we underwent sounds like it was derived from various other Nurburgring experience events that BMW Driver Training has conducted in the past, which actually costs a lot to participate in, so we were a group of vey lucky people.

We’ve actually done a lot of these safety driving exercises at our finals in Sepang earlier where finalist performance in these exercises were taken into account in our judging process. However, the ‘Ring event is an international event and not everyone there were as keen and skillful a driver as our grand prize winner Khairul was.

Some of the other countries did lucky draws, and some did internal contests so the attendees were Castrol staff instead of consumers. In this sense I am actually very proud to be Malaysian as our Malaysian round of the Castrol EDGE Experience Nurburgring was quite unique and comprehensive.

So these preparation exercises for the safety of all participants were crucial. After all, the cars that we would be driving had a lot of torque or horsepower and many Average Joes would probably never experience that kind of power in their lives.

Introduced in 1977, the BMW Driver Training course was the first of its kind – it was a special driving course initiated by a car manufacturer to improve the skills, reactions, and awareness of it’s car’s drivers. Today, BMW Driver Training comprises of many programs and workshops, each catering to different levels of skills and situations.

The current format of the BMW Driver Training program has been running for the past 10 years and in that time, approximately 15,000 participants have taken part in the different BMW Driver Training programs in that time. Impressively, there have been zero incidents or injuries in the last 10 years of the BMW Driver Training program.

The courses are conducted by BMW Instructors and all of them assigned to us at the ‘Ring during the event are required to have a minimum of 10 years BMW Driver Training Experience including a 2 week bespoke instructor course led by BMW Driver Training’s Chief Driving Instructor. To reach the level of expertise needed to train on the Nordschleife race circuit, they also need to have completed 100 BMW Driver Training sessions.

This means they’ve all been there since the beginning of the BMW Driver Training program in its current incarnation. Once a year, all BMW DT instructors have an official 2-day driver training program in November. Each instructor is audited every 2 years by an internal auditor which is supervise by the Technical Supervisory Association.

Our program for the day was divided into a few sessions – Emergency Braking, Lane Change, Drifting, Slalom, Taxi Rides, and two sessions of Pace Cars.

The Pace Car laps were naturally one of the most fun. We drove a combination of E90 M3 Sedans and E92 M3 Coupes around the Nurburgring GP circuit. It is quite a fun layout to drive on, and this GP circuit combines with the old Nordschleife in its longer 24.4km configuration.

The driving instructor was in the lead car and it was easy to just follow him around the circuit to learn the racing lines. We did six laps each for each session, cycling our car’s order after each lap so that every car would have the opportunity to be right behind the lead car. Since there were 2 Pace Car sessions, we all did 12 laps each around the track.

The track wasn’t completely empty, as Dirk Muller and Andy Priaulx were giving taxi rides in their cars and sometimes we had to keep right to let them pass. We could only just stare in awe at how the professionally-piloted M3s barreled down the straights and went around the corners – Andy’s M3 was a GT4 car and it had slicks so it had some pretty incredible cornering speed.

The slalom course was abit of a fun thing, it thought us how to point the steering and how to manage the throttle but there was also a bit of competition involved – the top three fastest times around the slalom course would get their own “podium” celebration later in the day complete with champagne. Khairul did not manage to get into the top three but he was just split seconds away from number 3.

In the lane change exercise we learned how to perform very quick lane change maneuvers so that we would be familiar on how to drive a car around a sudden obstacle when needed. You can see the driving instructor teaching us how to hold and turn the steering in the image above, curiously without any car present, haha!

We did this exercise in the Z4 sDrive35is so it was quite an experience, as this is one of a few rather new BMWs that I’ve not managed to drive back home in Malaysia. It had some special bits in the interior like yellow trim that matches the exterior and generous use of alcantara.

The emergency brake test was simple – we were familiarized with how to do hard emergency braking. We had to brake hard and keep our vehicle in a straight line a the same time, through a “lane” that was bordered by cones to the left and right.

You may be surprised that it took a few rounds for some participants to get it right. They either did not slam the brakes hard enough or for some reason while braking, the car drifts to the left or right, taking out some cones in the process. We did this exercise in a BMW 535d GT – best sounding diesel ever, more like a V6 petrol!

The drift session was done in a big parking lot that was kept constantly wet by some hoses. This session was also more towards having a bit of fun as the instructor just gave us some basic instructions, did a demo in the M3, and told us to try it with not much of a follow up as it would really take too much time. Teaching someone how to drift would probably take a whole day’s session on its own.

I was very proud to say that Khairul was the only one in our group who managed to do some donuts around the area, but curiously he could only do it when I was in the car so I did not manage to get it down on video. Could be something to do with weight balance.

Here’s a video of Dirk Muller giving Khairul a taxi ride. Dirk drove a completely stock E92 BMW M3, and he did one lap with lots of sliding and drifting around, one lap with proper racing lines, and a final lap for the car to cool down.

Khairul also got to suit up and join Andy Priaulx in the BMW M3 GT4 race car, which had a manual transmission, a roll cage, proper bucket seats and etc. It was a pretty hardcore car. View the video above to catch Khairul’s lap in the race car.

Later, Castrol did a demonstration to show that it was indeed its Castrol EDGE lubricant in these high powered BMWs going around the track. They filled the M3 GT4 up with some EDGE 10W60 lube and Andy went on to do a hot lap around the track.

BMW M enthusiasts will know that BMW recommends Castrol’s TWS 10W60 or now also known as EDGE 10W60 for the M car engines. 10W60 is a thicker oil than what you would normally put in your car, presumably because of the high pressures and heat inside M engines. That 4.0 litre V8 in the M3 sings to beyond 8,000rpm after all.

Next up, the GREEN HELL, but not after a good night’s sleep, as we would be starting the next day at 6 AM… look after the jump for a massive photo gallery of the day’s events.

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