I've never been more pleased to be in sunshine. For I am at the Nürburgring circuit in Germany with a driving brief for the first time, about to see if a rookie can be taught to be a king of the 'Ring after a two-day intensive training course

I'll be honest: I doubt Hans Stuck or Sabine Schmidt will have too much to worry about in 48 hours' time, but at least with some sunshine there's a chance I might have some grip to get a feel for the Green Hell if nothing else.

I'm here along with 99 others to do what's probably the ultimate driving course: Scuderia 7. On day one you have six 75 minute sessions, each dedicated to a section of a circuit. So think of it as learning Brands Hatch in just over an hour, before moving onto Silverstone, Donington, Snetterton, Thruxton and Knockhill to do the same. All in one day.

Then on day two the morning is spent trying to string it all together in one hot lap, in preparation for the final assessment in the afternoon that not only judges your laptime, but also how much information has sunk in from the instructors on lines, speed, smoothness etc.

Time will be split between two potent Vauxhalls: an Astra VXR and a Corsa VXR. I'm diving straight in at the deep end by going for the Astra first with an eye on using it for the final assessment, hoping its clever racing diff' and considerable extra torque might help me around the course. But then the Corsa is lighter and nimbler, preferable traits as a rookie. Decisions, decisions...

A competitive element is thrown in as there's a prize-giving session at the end of it all, but looking at the entry list I'm sure the owners of the numerous Porsche GT2s, Nissan GT-Rs and even a Dodge Viper have done this before.

My sights are set on the BMW 123d, but I doubt that's in the same shape it left the factory in. My real competition will therefore probably come from the nine other hacks from across Europe who are also doing it in VXRs, so I'll be flying the flag for Britain with national pride at stake.

The VXR theme to these three days is already underway as photographer Stan Papior and I piloted a new Insignia VXR Supersport, a car that does 170mph and costs £29,995, from our Teddington HQ to the Nürburgring.

To answer the obvious question first: did we manage to get it up to that top speed on the autobahn?

Nearly. We ran out of road at 236kph (146.6mph) on the best of the runs, so there's still plenty more to squeeze out of the VXR. At that speed, it takes a bit of extra nerve to keep your foot in; it stiffens up significantly from how it feels when you're cruising at 100mph, and those gentle bends feel more like proper corners.

Still, it's a car I'm seeing in a new light: think of it not as a sports saloon but a potent grand tourer and it really comes into its element. The ride is excellent and the engine silky smooth in its delivery, traits you want in a grand tourer. It's just not urgent or dramatic enough in its power delivery, or precise enough with its steering to feel overly sporty.

But if it rains tomorrow it's got one thing I might be wishing for on a crash course around the Nürburgring: asymmetrical four-wheel drive. Wish me luck; I'll keep you updated to see if I can rule the 'Ring for Britannia.