iconimg Thursday, May 07, 2015

Vinayak Pande, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, April 17, 2012
“The first time I drove around it, it was insane,” said the voice on the other end of the telephone.

“You’re going flat out into a corner at 230 kmph without knowing what’s around it.” Aditya Patel isn’t describing driving in India. The 23-year-old racing driver from Chennai is recounting his experience of driving on a racing circuit known as ‘The Green Hell’. The northern loop of the Nurbur-gring circuit in Germany is widely regarded as the most challenging purpose-built road racing circuit in the world.

As part of the German car manufacturer’s talent pool of drivers, Patel stands the chance of driving in top of the line racing series like the FIA World GT1 championship, the World GT Masters and DTM (German touring car championship).

It’s all a long way down the road, however, and well after Patel’s first task of racing in the VLN Series. A ten-race endurance racing championship that is based entirely on the Nurburgring. Each race runs for four hours, over twice the length of an F1 race.

Patel was one of 189 entries in his first outing on Saturday, and while he and and his two teammates didn’t finish the race, driving on the combined 25.947km Nurburgring circuit was an initiation into motorsports that he is glad to have discovered after leaving the world of single-seat racing behind.

“After I got into touring cars in 2010, I have enjoyed racing a lot more. It’s helped me discover how much more there is out there.”

Soon to be discovered by Patel will be an endurance racing event like no other — the ‘24 Hours of the Nurburgring’ on 20 May. As is evident from the name, the event requires a team of drivers to race non-stop for 24 hours on a circuit that has been deemed too dangerous for F1 since 1976.