Everybody who’s ever driven in anger has a favorite circuit. For Americans, it might be the tortuous Mazda Laguna Seca or roughly hewn Sebring. For Brits, it’s usually the history and heritage of Brands Hatch, Silverstone or Donington, but there’s always one circuit that commands awe and respect in equal measure, irrespective of where you’re from: The Nordschleife.
Most Ringmeisters reckon it takes at least 100 laps to find your way around, and more to really learn the place. That’s why a typical public day will see a local hero in a VW Rabbit handing it to a tourist’s GT3.
For Paul Lambert, affable CEO of serial Audi enhancers, Stasis Engineering, this was the realization of a life-long ambition. Although his driving credentials were never in doubt (see sidebar) thanks to vast single-seater and touring car experience, he was typical of petrolheads who are always looking for the next big challenge. Even though he’d moved the company to new premises at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia, he still wanted to push both himself and the efficacy of his conversions to the limit.
Having recently merged with British software specialists Revo Technik, it provided the perfect excuse for both crews to saddle up two Stasis-equipped Audis and spend a couple of days banging out hot laps.
“The Ring has always been on my Bucket List,” Paul explained. “I’ve spent hundreds of hours watching onboard footage and playing it on countless video games. It’s one of those places I simply had to visit. And with the announcement of our partnership with Revo, and the creation of our first European-spec demo cars, we felt now was the perfect time to hook up, have some fun and shakedown the cars.”
The cars in question were certainly up to the task in hand. There was an Audi S5 with the Stasis ‘Euro Edition’ Challenge spec that included stage 1 Revo software and full Milltek cat-back exhaust system, boasting around 400hp. Fully adjustable Bilstein B16 coilovers and a rear sway bar would remove the drama from the cornering process, while 20” Stasis Signature Edition forged wheels made space for the 390mm, six-piston Stasis brake conversion.
The ‘Euro Edition’ S4 was similarly equipped, but had the Stasis brand adjustable suspension package, prototype DSG software and full launch control.
“We had two major objectives,” Paul continued, still trying to justify his playtime. “To prove these conversions were suitable for real-world use, and a blast across four countries in five hours proved their credentials beyond question. But the real art in what we do is making the same cars work really well on the track – with zero changes. The trip was really about showcasing that – and maybe finding time to have some fun as well…”
Having arrived in London, Paul was greeted by his Revo colleagues including CEO Mark Yates. They then took a drive down to the Dover docks, before boarding the ferry for Calais, France. After availing themselves of the salubrious Club Lounge, the team dispatched the next 300 miles in a blur of coffee, unidentified meat-based snacks and a stretch of unrestricted Autobahn.
Having traveled across Europe in ‘Touring’ mode, Revo’s ingenious software needed nothing more than the insertion of their OBD port switch to instantly transform the cars into ‘Challenge’ mode. That done, the stage was set for two days of high-speed antics on the Ring.
Waking up to the Ring outside your window means it’s going to be a good day but everybody needed to focus on business. “I couldn’t wait to get out there but had to remind myself we were there as a development exercise, so we gathered a truck-load of data. I wanted to take the cars home in one piece, so although I was pressing on, there are no prizes handed out for being the fastest guy into the Armco!”
While Paul talks a good game, paid polite attention to the driver’s briefing and clocked several sensible sighting laps in the morning, his driving style didn’t reflect that ethos for long. It was as if somebody had lit a rocket under whatever car he was in, and he was off… with a squeal of tires and the soundtrack most Nascar fans would enjoy. And although nobody learns the Nordschleife in one day, Paul’s laps improved at an abnormally fast rate.
The Stasis trip was part of a Destination Nürburgring event. The company organizes closed two-day sessions and links both the historic North and modern South Loops into one, rarely driven opportunity.
Not only is the number of cars limited, but these events attract similar-minded people with well prepared cars. It creates a great atmosphere, with an open pit lane and as much track time as your car can handle.
“Forget everything I said earlier!” Paul laughed. “I was having way too much fun to take it easy. Both cars felt fantastic and although I’m still learning the track, we were able to stay with most cars out there, including some pretty serious race machinery. I’m totally delighted with how the entire session went.”
Day two presented the same perfect climate, and a goal to make any necessary adjustments to the cars. “It’s about the little improvements…” Paul explained. “Both our chassis and software technicians were looking for any tweaks we could make. I made some adjustments to the Bilsteins on the S5 and it made the car even easier to drive on the limit. We’ve compiled pages and pages of ECU data after each run and checked everything. These packages were signed off a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something new in a unique environment like the Nordschleife. If we improve the conversions from our time there, we’ll make sure it goes into the program.”
So with day two in the bag and the drive home yet to do, you would think these guys wouldn’t exactly be fighting to get behind the wheel. But no, even after a grueling stint on track, Paul drove himself back to the docks in France, having selected the more leisurely ‘Touring’ mode first, naturally.
Once back at the Revo/Stasis headquarters in Daventry, England, Paul was able to reflect on his achievement. “The Ring was everything I’d hoped for and more. It was an amazing trip both personally and professionally, even if I’m nowhere near learning those 73 corners properly. The cars performed exceptionally well and proved you can have a Jekyll and Hyde car.
“With Stasis now having a permanent base in Europe, I have the perfect excuse to hone my lap times further. It took me a long time to get there, but having sampled the Green Hell at its finest, you can bet we’ll be back sooner than later.”
Two days with Paul Lambert taught us the man can pedal. When you glance at his motorsport resume, you understand why.
In his driving career, Paul competed in Audi, BMW and Porsches, a Sports Racer and several formula cars. He still holds 12 track records, posted more than 20 pole positions and took more than 30 wins, culminating in four championships.
In professional competition, Paul gave Audi its first US touring car win at Laguna Seca in ’02, leading to multiple poles and track records.
Switching to team management, he ran a multi-car team that was the most successful in the ’06 and ’07 World Challenge series. But despite the hectic schedule, he managed to create Stasis in ’99 and build it to where it is today.