We've all seen the BBC Top Gear episode where Sabine Schmitz claims she could drive faster than Jeremy Clarkson around the Nürburgring in a van than he could in a Jaguar diesel. So he accepts the challenge and she also breaks the 10min barrier.
Well that event got a lot of van drivers very excited and debate has raged ever since. So VAG tuning specialist, Revo Technik, set out to smash the existing lap record for a commercial vehicle lap during a recent test session. Admittedly, they used a modified VW T5 van, as opposed to a lightened but otherwise stock Ford Transit van used by Sabine, but the record still stands.
The previous fastest time set by Sabine, 'Bridge to Gantry', was 10min 8sec. It was considered by many - including the lady herself - to be about the most a standard van could do.
So Revo's technicians selected the VW T5 2.0L Twin Turbo Diesel. This particular example had covered 80,000 working miles and was perfectly run-in!
For the lap, Revo created custom software for the ECU, then added a Milltek 'turbo-back' exhaust system and Forge intercooler/oil cooler combination. This was enough to take the engine to 220bhp with a very increase in torque.
Chassis updates included Bilstein B14 coilovers, Team Dynamics wheels and road-legal Dunlop Direzza tires.
The van was then driven 580 miles from the UK to the Ring, carrying the crew's luggage and equipment. It would then set its lap times and drive home again - no trailer, no back-up plan, no contingencies.
For the feat, Revo enlisted Nürburgring Nordschleife veteran Dale Lomas. He works for Rent4Ring, is a driving instructor at the track and runs the 'Bridge To Gantry' Ring website.
After a couple of laps to acquaint himself with the van, Dale managed to complete a full lap in 9min 57.36sec - a feat that was ratified by the onboard Racelogic GPS equipment that was reviewed after the run. The full circuit is about one mile longer than the 'Bridge to Gantry' lap time set by Sabine's run in the Transit for Top Gear, making Revo's new time even more impressive.
Interview with Driver, Dale Lomas:
For more information on the record lap visit the microsite