Sigurd has been training for the legendary Green Hell on his simulator in Kitzingen, Germany, since winter 2020. “The Nordschleife has always interested me. It’s world famous with almost 100 years of history,” he says of his fascination with the 20.83km-long track. But while he simply presses the restart button on the sim if he overestimates a corner and leaves the track, things are very different when he’s doing it in real life.
From the simulator to the Green Hell
Over and over again, Sigurd tries not to use the run-off areas of the 12 metre-wide track. In preparation for his Porsche Track Experience performance training, the organiser sent him videos to get to know the layout of the 33 left-hand and 40 right-hand corners even better – because at a track like the Nürburgring, knowledge is key. “I previously completed precision training courses in Baden-Baden and Leipzig and was really looking forward to the next learning curve,” says Sigurd, who has been accompanied to this illustrious track in the Eifel mountains by his partner Astrid. “The topography and the rapid succession of medium-fast and fast corners require perfection,” says the 42-year-old as he puts on his helmet.
In his native Lower Franconia, Sigurd is the fourth generation to run the family print shop, producing labels for wine bottles in this well-known Bavarian wine region. The electrical engineering graduate grew up working for the company and has been in charge of it for more than ten years now. He’s a passionate diver and loves the travel and photography that comes with that hobby. But he’s also passionate about Porsche and racing. “I prefer to photograph animals,” says Sigurd, who dreams of a trip to Africa. “…And of my own Porsche 911 GT3,” he quickly adds. After all, such a sports car would be a perfect balance to his everyday life.
“The idea of driving my own 911 GT3 to the Nürburgring-Nordschleife and taking part in a Porsche Experience programme before driving back the next day is simply brilliant,” he says, looking at Astrid, who nods in agreement. She enjoys being a passenger. Yesterday morning – on day one of the programme – she sat next to Sigurd as he completed various exercises at the Nürburgring’s driving safety centre. The main focus of the training is on further improving vehicle control.
In addition to the theoretical part about track safety, the lessons also include getting to know each other as well as learning the best line to take through corners for smooth and fast track driving. “Precise braking and smooth steering movements are a matter of practice. Thanks to the professional guidance and evaluation of my laps, I was able to take a lot away with me,” says Sigurd, summing up his learning success.
The Green Hell is unforgiving
He trained his vision and steering technique as well as his reflexes when quickly counter-steering on a skid plate that had been doused in water. “That was very exciting, because when I started off, I didn’t know which direction the Porsche was about to swerve into. Will it oversteer or understeer? Will the plate spin left or right? A great exercise, not least for responsiveness,” Sigurd adds.
Driving a 911 GT3 on the racetrack
“Every kid turns their head when they see a 911. The shape is simply unmistakable,” he says. And yet it took almost 40 years for him to really get into Porsche. One day, a friend took him to an event at the Porsche Centre in the Bavarian town of Würzburg, shortly after the introduction of the current 911 (992). “That was my first real contact with Porsche and I fell in love with the brand straight away.” He filled out a feedback flyer and a little later won a test drive in a model of his choice. He opted for a 911 Carrera 4S, which he spent a weekend with exploring the Romantic Road in Franconia, one of the oldest holiday routes in the country. “I never thought that a Porsche would be so much fun on country roads,” he add. Two years later, he got to drive the new 911 GT3 on his dream racetrack.
André helps Sigurd find the right position with his helmet and HANS safety system. The latter prevents the spine from overextending and holds the head back in the headrest in the event of sharp deceleration. Astrid is already sitting in the passenger seat. The entrepreneur is happy that it’s raining: “This way, I’ll learn the best possible line in the worst possible conditions.” Free driving is on the programme later, when Astrid will have to get out of the cockpit, but for now, she is still there as instructor André leads the small group of four sports cars around the track, with the track conditions alternating almost as often as the crests and dips.
It’s good to drive behind André. He tells you interesting things about the corners and explains the differences between the ideal lines when it is dry and wet
“As a beginner, I steer far too much and I’m too jerky. I’m not always in the right gear to smoothly manoeuvre the vehicle into a dip,” Sigurd says. The instructor’s tips give him self-confidence, and by the end of the first day, he knows which corner he should approach in which gear. In the evening, he will look at the data on Porsche’s Track Precision app to see where gains can be made.
“When the rear skipped a little today, I immediately felt weak at the knees. Luckily, the assistance systems helped me,” says Sigurd with some relief. Just a few laps later, he has regained his self-confidence and trusts himself and the vehicle. “A few laps in the rain are great for self-confidence, because the GT3 feels completely different on wet roads,” adds Sigurd, who is enthusiastic about the sports car’s capabilities. In fact, so enthusiastic is Sigurd about self-improvement on the racetrack, he immediately registers for the Porsche master training course. This will give him more driving experience to improve his track craft and to get to know the cars even better. He would also like to drive at other international racetracks such as Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, and put the theory from the simulator into practice on the track. What remains is the anticipation of the next event – and the big dream of his own 911 GT3.