Nürburg, Germany - Niki Lauda almost died there back in 1976. And, these days, the F1 teams prefer the ‘short’ circuit when they race in Germany every two years. They in fact call the ‘Ring, The Green Hell.
The Nordschleife’s 22.8km ribbon of tarmac snakes through hilly, heavily-wooded, terrain and it also rises and falls like no other track.
Also, with 160 turns to negotiate from start to finish, the ‘Ring is challenging for even the most talented of racing aces to navigate.
Despite its treacherous nature, the circuit is sought-after as a proving ground for automotive OEMs; where big names like Lamborghini and Porsche regularly slug it out for eminence.
A few months ago, Porsche sent its retired 919 LMP1 race car around the track to see if it could make a dent in the circuit’s overall lap record standings. The lap record that it was chasing was actually held by another Le Mans-winning car, the Porsche 956C.
What happened when the 919 (in unhinged, EVO spec) took to the track? It set a new lap record of 5 minutes 19.54 seconds. The 956C’s overall lap record of 6 minutes 11.00 seconds was shattered and a new King of the Ring took the throne.
So, to celebrate Porsche’s achievement, and the manic Green Hell, we take a look at the 11 fastest cars to run around the circuit, according to FastestLaps.com:
11 - Dodge Viper ACR
Outputs: 481kW and 813Nm
Nordschleife lap time: 7:01.30
Number 11 on our list is a rabid snake of a car. This super sports vehicle started out its life with an engine and transmission from a truck, but has turned into a track-focused monster in its final iteration as the American Club racer (ACR).
A fixed rear-wing, finely-tuned suspension and steering, and very-nearly 500kW on tap from its 8.4-litre V10 engine makes it sprint to 100km/h in less than 4 seconds. Thanks to its large-section tyres, the Viper (ACR in particular) is faster than most Ferraris and Lamborghinis around the ‘Ring.
10 - Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV
Outputs: 552kW and 690Nm
Nordschleife lap time: 6:59.73
Ask any (car-crazy) kid that grew up in the '80s if they had a Lambo poster of some sorts on their bedroom wall and they’d probably say yes. The Aventador LP750-4 SV isn’t an '80s supercar. In fact, it’s packed with technology and thanks to a thundering naturally-aspirated V12 it can reach 100km/h from a standstill in a shade over 3 seconds.
Around the ‘Ring, the biggest bull of them all will thump some of the finest cars from Pagani, Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG. Just don’t wave any red flags in front of it.
9 - Subaru WRX STI Type RA NBR Special Edition
Outputs: 447kW and (600Nm estimated)
Nordschleife lap time: 6:57.50
One can’t compile a ‘car’ list that does not include a hot Subaru, and it doesn’t get any hotter than this special edition WRX STI from the land of the rising sun. Punching out more than 400kW to all four wheels, the Type RA NBR Special Edition was purpose-built to slay the Nordschleife.
You won’t be able to buy one, as Subaru didn’t sell them officially, but nothing stops you from taking a standard WRX STI and building your own point-to-point rocketship sedan. At least you’ll be able to take the kids for a drive too.
8 - Porsche 918 Spyder
Outputs: 652kW and 1280Nm
Nordschleife lap time: 6:57.00
When Porsche launched the 918 Spyder back in 2013, it made headlines as a technical tour de force. Combining a high-revving naturally aspirated flat-plane-crank V8 with two electric motors and some lithium ion batteries, it’s able to scorch the 0-100 sprint in 3 seconds.
The instantaneous torque delivery of the car thanks to its electrified augmentation and slick PDK gearbox, combined with a deft all-wheel drive system make it one of the fastest point-and-squirt cars on earth. Pity, it’s only made for left-hand-drive territories.
7 - Porsche 911 GT3 RS (991 facelift)
Outputs: 382kW and 469Nm
Nordschleife lap time: 6:56.40
Make all the jokes you want about the Porsche 911’s engine being in the wrong place. Or take your digs at it looking like a VW Beetle. But, rest assured the 911 is arguably the benchmark when it comes to sports coupes.
In GT3 RS trim the car is powered by a naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six that revs till your ears bleed. Despite it being down on power and torque compared to most of the other cars on this list, the GT3 RS will easily box with more powerful rivals along twisty ribbons of tarmac like the Green Hell. If you haven’t experienced the GT3 RS, do yourself a favour and go for a blast in one and you’ll see why motoring rags around the world herald it as one of the best driver’s cars ever made.
6 - Radical SR8
Outputs: 267kW and 271Nm
Nordschleife lap time: 6:55.00
Launched more than a decade ago, the Radical SR8 remains amongst the top 10 fastest ‘Ring cars of all time thanks to its diminutive nature and lightweight construction.
There’s no fancy traction control system, or launch control to help you off the line, but it does come with a small capacity race-tuned V8 engine that loves to rev. Track day purists in markets that are fortunate to access the Radical range of cars consider the SR8 a must-have tool.
Mid-engined, rear-wheel drive, sharp steering and no roof are said to make it a driving experience like no other on this list.
5 - Lamborghini Huracán Performante
Outputs: 471kW and 600Nm
Nordschleife lap time: 6:52.01
The Performante version of the Lamborghini Huracán is fitted with similar technology to that found in the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Like the jet-figher, the Huracán is constantly scanning the environment around it and the road ahead of it using lasers, radars and sensors to ensure that maximum power and torque can be delivered to the drive wheels at all time. Dubbed Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA), the active aerodynamic system is a key contributor to making this one of the quickest Lamborghinis ever made.
Compared to the regular Huracán, this version’s engine, transmission and drive software is dialled up to enable drivers to really explore where grip runs out and handling begins. Also, you can show friends its gold cylinder heads, which Lambo says is actually the same heads used in its racing cars.
4 - Radical SR8 LM
Outputs: 335kW and 300Nm
Nordschleife lap time: 6:48.00
The LM version of the Radical SR8 held the outright lap record at the Green Hell for most of its production life, but was toppled from the throne in 2017. It features a modified version of the V8 used in the standard SR8 and can rev to 10 500rpm. Radical claims that the car can reach 100km/h from a standstill in less than 3 seconds, but you’ll need dexterous hands and feet to keep this car on the straight and narrows, as it’s a purpose-built race car.
The Radical might be getting on in age, but the numbers still show that it’s built to destroy lap times. If a no compromise track weapon is needed, find a way to import one for yourself.
3 - Porsche 911 GT2 RS
Outputs: 515kW and 750Nm
Nordschleife lap time: 6:47.30
Porsche’s GT2-badged 911 earned itself a bit of a reputation back in the early 90s when the first gen car was launched.
Known as The Widowmaker, the GT2 would chew up and spit out unassuming (usually married) drivers thanks to a heavily-boosted flat-six turbo engine. The latest version of the car, which was launched in South Africa a few months ago will sprint to 100km/h from a rest in less than 3 seconds and will top out at 340km/h.
Remember those jokes about 911s? There’s no joking about this 515kW version of it.
2 - Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
Outputs: 566kW and 720Nm
Nordschleife lap time: 6:44.97
Not to be outgunned by Porsche, as far as road-going cars are concerned, Lamborghini unleashed its most ludicrous V12 car yet, the Aventador SVJ a couple of months ago. It blitzed the ‘Ring in 6:44.97 seconds with Lamborghini racing team driver Marco Mapelli behind the wheel.
The Aventador SVJ’s domination of the track reflects its extensive engineering and research. It features four-wheel-drive, rear-wheel steering, electronic stability control, and Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva 2.0 (ALA) (a patented system that features active aerodynamics in the form of a robotic front spoiler, underbody flaps and intelligent rear wing). The flaps can be activated or deactivated in 500 milliseconds to minimise drag or optimise downforce, depending on how flat your foot is on the gas around a bend.
1 - Porsche 919 LMP1 EVO
Outputs: 530kW (petrol engine) and 324kW electric motor
Nordschleife lap time: 5:19.54
Now that the car’s been retired from endurance racing, the Porsche 919 can take to the track without any restrictions or caps on its performance output.
The Le Mans-winning V4 engine is retained in this record-breaking EVO version, putting out 530kW while the output of its electric motors have been boosted to 324kW.
Porsche race engineers didn’t stop there, reducing the car’s weight by 39kg, bringing it down to a slim and trim 849 kilograms.
At 5:19.54 seconds, it’s believed that this Porsche will hold the record for the fastest lap around the ‘Ring for many (many) years to come.