If it wasn't for the amount of traffic on the first lap, I'd have been much faster... See, after two days at the Nürburgring I'm already beginning to sound like a racing driver getting my excuses in.
The Scuderia 7 course I've been doing these past two days, where you undergo intensive training to try and learn the 21km race circuit, is now complete - and the final results are in. The assessment at the end of the training was two timed laps, with your score being calculated on how closely matched the two laps were against the clock rather than how fast you went.
My two timed laps were 2.69sec apart over the course. That placed me 21st overall out of just over 100, and fifth in my group of 10 other hacks of varying Nürburgring experience. The winner's two laps were just 0.07sec apart.
But I know I have a bit more consistency in me as in free practice I clocked back to back laps of 9m 4sec. The official lap time for the Vauxhall Astra VXR (or rather Opel Astra OPC as it was on Opel's home turf) is 8m 20sec, so there was plenty of room for improvement for a 'Ring rookie like me in both lap time and consistency when the pressure is really on against the clock.
If only I'd had one more go at the assessment in a little less traffic... And that's where the track really gets you. The Nürburgring is an addictive place, a petrol head's playground where 'Just one more go' is perhaps the most uttered phrase. As one colleague put it to me, it's somewhere where you don't have to apologise for liking cars, and where a Porsche 911 GT3 RS is as common as Ford Fiesta is in the UK.