By on January 31, 2014

AX diesel Nurburgring record lap 9 55 BTG - YouTube
“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.

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25 Comments on “The Only ‘Ring Video That Matters: 9:55 In A ’93 Citroën AX 14D...”

  • avatar

    Excellent. Sleeping bag in the car, campfire, this guy shows what it’s all about.

    Anyone know what app he was using on the phone there?

  • avatar

    I was there in early November at the wheel of a stripped/caged Suzuki Swift with 2.5 times the power (136 hp) and Toyo R888 R-comps… And even with six laps I only just managed to tie this time. This is a truly impressive drive.

  • avatar

    Impressive, I’ll have to try this on Gran Turismo! I always enjoy watching people get the most out of a slow car like this rather than some supercar- as you said, momentum is key!

  • avatar

    His lap was faster than the one posted by an overweight balding loudmouth guy on TV with a Jaguar diesel. Epic.

  • avatar

    Driving a slow car fast is always more fun than driving a fast car slowly.

  • avatar

    That was some sweet driving

  • avatar

    Watched this a while ago. And the title is no hype. This IS the only ring video of the last year that really matters. Fantastic driving (scrappy, but perfect), dedication and tenacity. Sub-seven minutes with nearly a thousand horsepower? Yawm. Under ten with less than sixty? **** yeah!

    There is no satisfaction greater than driving a slow car fast enough to shame a couple of guys driving significantly faster machinery.

    • 0 avatar

      This just happened to my brother at our last track day event. After a few sessions a guy running V8 Camaro SS wanted my brother to explain how his Golf R was running away from him. This also explains why the Miata guys have so much fun out there.

  • avatar

    Worth noting that an AX with this same engine set a fuel economy record by driving from Dover to Barcelona (1,000 miles) on 12 U.S. gallons of diesel, for 87 MPG (U.S. gallons).

  • avatar

    Nissan and other car companies may set the quickest laps, but this guy and his Citroen set whats probably the best lap of recent Nurg runs.

    You don’t need spin-breaking suspension, active aero, 500hp+ to prove a point, just pure good ol’ determination.

  • avatar

    I dunno what that music was he had playing near the end, but I had the soundtrack from Chariots of Fire running through my head.

    Jack, quick! Point me to a suitable candidate shitbox for stripping out and driving around on the street while I pretend to be This Guy.

  • avatar

    He used Yokohama ADVAN A048 semi-slicks. Compared to tiny oem street tires its 2-3 minutes difference right there. But it’s a cool project, a real car with a real lap time driven by a real person. Nice change for factory teams with unlimited budgets chasing couple of seconds in a “stock” bright coloured hypercar with racing driver behind the wheel.

  • avatar

    That was more exciting than any Nascar race I’ve ever watched…

    – Awesome engine noise – check
    – Diesel plume when accelerating out of corner – check
    – Calm ‘thank you’ wave when passing mid-corner – check
    – scrappy momentum-driven tour of the ring – check!

    Awesome! I don’t really give a shit about ‘ring videos, other than the ones with Sabine. This one though, had me on the edge of my seat, rooting for this guy even though I knew the outcome already!

  • avatar

    This falls into the category of ‘diminishing returns’ and an awesome run. Clearly a 7 minute run is only 30% faster with a vehicle with almost 20X the horsepower but physics dictate that due to traction, air resistance coefficients and weight (the weight to power ratio I’m sure is still well over 10X) but it all adds up. This man knows that track and the time it takes to do something. It’s an amazing feat of taking driving on this track to a intuition level.

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    Major RESPECT!

  • avatar

    Awesome! Also see that the car has more than 400000 miles on it. At least the shell, as it is on its ninth engine/rebuild…

    • 0 avatar

      I love the part about going through 9 engines and 5 gearboxes when you consider there are people that complain about the lack of French cars and diesels on our market.

  • avatar

    This was utterly fantastic. Thanks.

  • avatar

    Citroen AX Lemons racer anybody?

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