When I’m gone

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A forest path between Nürburg and Quiddelbach:  the sky is a gentle shade of orange with a soft hint of purple, framed in the dark lace of the pine trees. Wild raspberries growing along the path on top of the hill, the undergrowth turning into wilder ferny looking stuff along the little brook further down the road.

There is no one around, just some birds in the trees, the deer that were there in the early morning are no longer there.  It feels good when with every gasp for breath you get a mouthful of air that smells like grass and pine-trees and sunset. And there is no one to ask you why the hell you are crying, no need for censorship. You just sit on the grass and let yourself be – happy because it happened, sad because it’s gone. Maybe for good.

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Cup of skill, pound of determination, a pinch of luck and sprinkle of miracle

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This really has happened, hasn’t it? It wasn’t all a dream, was it? Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber won the 24h of Le Mans. They won this crazy ruthless race. If it were fiction, one would say the scriptwriter overdid it. The reality of it will take a while to set in.

Apparently there is nothing that tastes better than Veltins Pils. Maybe the cold water offered by the Porsche staff to the fans gathered around their garages after the podium ceremony. Singing along to “We are the champions” and “Auf uns”, getting to actually touch the constructor’s trophy – it’s surreal.

It was such a privilege to see the team celebrate, to celebrate with them. It was an absolute honour to congratulate Timo in person – all soaked in champagne and wrapped in the wreath, exhausted but so incredibly happy. He is the hero. Knowing it was him in the car for that crucial last stint, was somehow calming. You can rely on Timo to do things like that, to keep cool in the boiling cockpit at 330 kmh, fighting for the win, that seemed impossible after every other LMP1 car has broken down. Timo is the hero – not the least because when he heard that, first thing he said was “Brendon and Earl are.”

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Schönes Zuhause

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“Schönes Zuhause” (“nice home”) in a crisp Swiss accent greeted us on Friday. Another memory into the incredible collection of things that we will never forget. Another insider joke. Another piece of the puzzle that makes Spa-Francorchamps feel like a home in the racing Wonderland.

They say home is where Wi-Fi connects automatically. When we arrived at our place for the weekend, my phone did just that.

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is her usual incredible self: with unpredictable temper and irresistible curves. The red, yellow, anthracite, and deep green – the palette of the most amazing painter.

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Back to the Wonderland

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Everyone has their own wonderland. Mine involves tarmac laid in strange patterns and cars going in circles. I really needed this visit to my personal wonderland. I missed it over the winter.

The sound of the Gibsons – and as you may imagine we are not talking guitars here – is the best thing to clear your head: loud, high pitch, powerful. The by now familiar symphony of WEC classes on track is something I have been missing so much. It’s my dear soundtrack of the happy unreality I longed for so badly.

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24h.

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Le Mans 24 Hours. I doubt there is anything in this world that comes close to it. It’s mythic, it’s unique, it’s a whirlwind of emotions, it’s on the limit and beyond. It’s on every racing fan’s bucket list, and having crossed it off the list once, I have instantly put it back on it, because there is not much that comes close to the atmosphere of this magnificent event. The racing melts into the town, floods into the narrow streets, with the prototypes rolling down the Avenue Général de Gaulle into the Place de la République on Sunday afternoon for the scrutineering, plaques with the handprints of the drivers who have written their names into the history books set between the cobbled stones at the Place Saint-Nicolas.

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Spa. Simply Perfect Atmosphere.

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Porsche 919 Hybrid passing by the LMP2 of G-Drive racing during the Free Practice on Thursday 05.05.2016

You close your eyes and listen: the birds singing, the wind rustling through the lacy tops of the old pines, the tiny river with an infamous name flowing along the stones overgrown with moss… this peace and quiet makes you forget about time. But once the lights go green and the sound of the engines enweaves neatly into the calm timelessness of the Ardenne countryside every thousandth of a second counts. It was my third time at the WEC 6h of Spa-Francorchamps, and it was magic.

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6h of Nürburgring or three days of pure happiness

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This weekend couldn’t  be more perfect. I think I will need a while to comprehend that this everything was real, that I didn’t dream it.

WEC is an amazing race to go to, after two years in a row in Spa, I knew that much for sure. Tickets are very affordable, the access is amazing, organisation is mostly impeccable. WEC is an amazing kind of racing to watch live.

Nürburgring has proven to be a great venue, too. The area is unbelievably beautiful. High up the Eifel mountains with the tiny villages around and that mideavel castle on top of the hill, it is a great destination to get away from the hassle of the real life.

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