They say the best ideas always come about over a drink – and so the cliché is proven when some semi-inebriated route-planning on the overnight ferry from Hull brings to light that the legendary VLN race series is in action at the Nürburgring tomorrow. We have three hours from disembarking the boat at Rotterdam until the lights go out and 100 snarling GT and touring cars are unleashed around the full Nordsliefe. Can we make it?
At the risk of immediately removing all suspense from the scenario, ‘no’ is the short answer, for even with sections of derestricted autobahn and 480bhp on tap, progress is slow. We finally reach Adenau about an hour into the race, dump the car at Aldi, buy some basic lunch provisions and head for the trackside.
It’s impossible to spend any time in Austria without observing constant reference to one of the nation’s most remarkable exports: Red Bull. Dieter Materzitch’s Austrian empire is vast, with his devotion to extreme sports and machinery being most visible at Hangars 7 and 8. These hugely dramatic and cavernous structures are home to numerous of Red Bull’s most important and iconic machines – from the worlds of motor racing, aviation and wider extreme sports.
The buildings themselves are other-worldly – huge monuments to the success of the energy drinks brand. Situated just to the side of Salzburg Airport, the two hangars face one another, flanking a concrete apron leading out onto the airport. Hangar 7 is the larger and is open to the public (for free) year-round. Hangar 8 is used solely for storing aircraft.
Somewhat unusually, our trip to Rally Finland 2015 begins in Estonia. There’s good reason for this: Estonian lager is significantly less expensive than its Finnish equivalent. So, with a few crates of the local favourite, Karhu (which translates simply as ‘Bear’), safely stowed (quite legally) across the border, we’re ready for the three hundred kilometre breeze up to Himos, our home for a long weekend chasing rally cars.