Why there are two differently timed laps on the Nürburgring Nordschleife

Records are kept for both 12.8- and 12.944-mile distances

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Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series
Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series setting production car record in Germany | Mercedes-AMG photo

(Editor’s note: The following is from Mercedes-AMG and is offered to explain why there are two distances that much be timed for lap records on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Germany’s famed racing circuit that has become the world standard.)

The Nürburgring-Nordschleife is regarded as the most difficult racetrack in the world and is included in every new development by Mercedes-AMG. A record lap is therefore the most demanding test of the qualities of a sports car. The times are determined for two track alternatives – 12.8 and 12.944 miles long.

Since 1997, the 12.8-mile circuit has been the measure of all things. The specialist magazine sport auto from the Motor Presse Stuttgart publishing house drives this circuit as part of their so-called “Supertest.” 

For historical reasons, the short straight at the T13 grandstand – from the turnoff from the Nordschleife to the Grand Prix circuit to the exit of the Grand Prix circuit onto the Nordschleife – was not included in the timing. The starting line is therefore at the end of the T13 grandstand in a northerly direction and the finish line is at the beginning of the T13 grandstand in a southerly direction. Therefore, no complete lap is measured after the flying start. The total length of the course is exactly 12.8 miles.

Nordschleife
Nordschleife track layout, with the ‘stadium’ circuit in the lower left corner | Nürburgring track illustration

In 2019, the official Nürburgring lap was added. It was organized by the operating company “Nürburgring 1927 GmbH & Co. KG” and is 761.155 ft longer, because the start and finish line are identical here, also on the T13 section, so a full Nordschleife lap of 12.944 miles is driven and measured with a flying start.

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Numerous conditions must be met for both record times to be recognized: In addition to timekeeping with calibrated photoelectric sensor technology, official record attempts and attempts to achieve a lap time are always accompanied by a notary. 

In addition to monitoring the timekeeping, the vehicles and the tires are also inspected and approved by the notary. The classification of the vehicle classes is based on the official categories of the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (“Kraftfahrtbundesamt” KBA).

For more information, visit the Nurburgring website.

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