“It took me a lot of time and patience to achieve a ‘Bridge To Gantry’ lap time under 10 minutes during the tourist drive sessions at the Nordschleife. This challenge was definitely for fun but also to prove it could be done with work, tenacity and a bit of madness too… This TUD3 diesel engine is known for its poor reliability and I went through 9 engines and 5 gearboxes!”
We’re all aware by now how far manufactures go to validate their new sports car by posting a timed YouTube video of their prized new toy, worth at least tens of thousands of dollars, barreling down the Nürburgring at Vmax with some hot shoe driver. The ‘Ring time has started to become a regular, though often misguided, benchmark for how capable a car is.
Now, condense all of that determination, prestige and big-money manufacturer support; strip out the money and prestige, and add determined Frenchman with a diesel Citroën as he battles to break the magical 10-minute mark.
The car is a near-stock 1993 Citroën AX 14D, a 1.4L 53hp diesel econobox — momentum car would be an understatement. The only notable modifications are a (presumably) stickier set of front tires, bumped fuel pressure, a strut bar to help prevent the tired chassis from twisting further, an aluminum intake off the larger 1.5L 15D motor to clear the strut bar, and finally some modest weight reduction.
It took seven years and a fair amount of Citroën parts to get it. The result, though, is one tenacious driver who truly knows the car he’s driving. Look at the visually calm, but mechanically quick shifts. The shifter has enough play that he starts throwing it well before ratcheting on and off the clutch. Always driving with absolute confidence, even in the last “hour” of video when the power steering pump starts to fight him from heat (You can hear the pump whine as he fights the wheel on corner exit).
He writes, “Racing is a state of mind,” as he closes the YouTube description of the run. Perfect.