That joke about rental vans always being the fastest things on the road? Maybe not such a joke after all – as a VW Transporter supplied by Northgate Vehicle Hire has just set a new lap record at the world famous Nurburgring Nordschleife.
Used for industry testing, public entertainment and actual racing, the Nurburgring is considered one of the ultimate tests of vehicle performance, so this is no small matter.
Wait. There’s a lap record for vans at the Nurburgring?
There’s a lap record for everything at the Nurburgring, even if some of them are a bit… unofficial.
The previous van record was set by German racing driver and television personality Sabine Schmitz for an episode of the Top Gear TV programme back in 2005.
In that instance, Ms Schmitz managed to drag a Ford Transit round the 13-mile circuit in 10 minutes 8 seconds.
So what’s the new Nurburgring van lap record set by the VW Transporter?
Volkswagen is being a little cautious, and saying only that it’s an unofficial record, but British Touring Car Championship racing driver Rob Austin has reportedly punted a Transporter round in 9 minutes 58 seconds.
You can watch the attempt in the video below. Strangely, the vid is only 2 minutes long – which is barely long enough to drink a cup of tea, let alone lap the ’ring.
Presumably this was some kind of souped-up super Transporter?
Nope. It wasn’t even the most powerful model in the range – being a mere 150hp 2.0-litre diesel.
Imagine how fast Austin could have gone in a 204hp diesel, let alone the 204hp turbo petrol rocketship we’ve been running as long-term test vehicle.
As an aside, we’re amused to note the blurred number plate. Any bets this van is now back on the rental fleet?
Final question: why?
Northgate Vehicle Hire sponsors HMS Racing, the team Austin drives for in the BTCC. A spokesman for the Northgate said, ‘This feat by a professional racing driver was an unusual way to showcase the quality and durability of one of our most popular vans, the Volkswagen Transporter.’
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles national rental manager Kate Wright added, ‘The Transporter has won a host of accolades throughout its history, but this is perhaps the most unusual.’