Nurburg, Germany - Sabine Schmitz’s long-standing Nurburgring lap record for a standard diesel van has finally been beaten.
TV presenter, professional racer and ‘Queen of the Ring’ Schmitz’s time of 10m08s, set in a Ford Transit during filming for an episode of BBC’s Top Gear back in 2005, stood for 13 years before being comprehensively smashed by British Touring Car driver Rob Austin, in a Volkswagen Transporter, with the very first sub-10 minute lap of the Nordschleife in a van.
One of Austin’s sponsors is Northgate Vehicle Hire, Britain’s biggest van rental company, which supplied him with a Transporter as a mobile workshop and transport between race meetings - although we’re not sure if this was what they had in mind.
Just as Schmitz did in 2005, Austin jettisoned all the van’s interior fittings - right down to the front passenger seat! - to lighten the otherwise bog-standard 110kW 2.0 TDI Transporter with manual transmission, as much as possible. But where Schmitz had exactly two laps in the Transit to set her time, Austin was able to spend two full days learning how to get the most out of his Transporter, before setting his benchmark time of 9m58s. Respect.
Watch a short video below of what it took to get a VW panel van around the ‘Ring in less than 10 minutes - and then, because today is Throwback Thursday, scroll further down for the original footage of Schmitz’s 2005 record-setting run.