The Nurburgring bike lap record has stood for over 10 years. But 2022 saw it very nearly beaten, so will this year be the year that finally the record is toppled?
Can motorbikes go on the nurburgring?
Motorbikes are allowed to go on the Nurburgring during most Touristenfahrten sessions. There are certain days, however where bikes are not allowed and these are listed on the official Nurburgring opening calendar.
Usually when these sessions state that bikes are not allowed on the Ring it’s because prior to the TF session there will have been a race event such as the NLS.
These races are run with cars using proper slicks tyres which often shed chunks of rubber as they wear out throughout the race. The rubber is then flung on to the track and the cars knock it off the racing line line. Known as ‘marbles’, these are incredibly slippery if you stray on to them when you’re lapping at speed. On a bike they’re even more dangerous, so Nurburgring management disallow motorbikes during these sessions to avoid putting them at risk.
Bikes may also be disallowed from a TF session if there’s been an incident that’s left oil or other fluids on the circuit. When this happens the track officials will put cement dust or a similar powder on the fluids to try and absorb them. These powders are a little slippery to drive on for cars, but are very dangerous for bikes.
Nurburgring bike lap record
The current Nurburgring bike lap record is 7:10.89 set on a Yamaha YZF R1, ridden by Andy Carlile in 2012. This was a bridge to gantry (BTG) lap time, and hasn’t been broken for over 10 years.
The BTG laptime signifies that this lap was set during a tourist driving session, with other vehicles out on the circuit at the same time. It also means that it’s not quite an entire lap of the 13-mile long circuit, instead it misses out about 1 mile of the Dottinger Hohe straight.
A 7 minute 10 second lap would equate to roughly 7 minute 28 second full lap on this bike.
Watch the full video for yourself below.
The Nurburgring bike lap record was set on a Yamaha YZF R1. As the rider said afterwards, engine wise it was completely standard, even down to the air filter.
The bike’s chassis had a few modifications including re-valved shock absorbers, lightweight carbon fibre wheels and a few ergonomic changes to make it more comfortable to ride over a few laps of the Nordschleife. Otherwise it was pretty stock.
Andy Carlile was, and still is, a Nurburgring veteran. He moved from the UK to the Nurburgring in 2007 and by the time he’d set the lap record he’d done a few thousand laps of the circuit on his bike.
He knew the track as well as anyone. So well infact that Guy Martin recruited Andy to be his Nurburgring driving coach when he attempted, and succeeded, to set the van lap record of the Nurburgring.
How fast is that lap?
To understand how fast that lap record is on a bike, check out some of the other lap times from the fastest Nurburgring BTG laps. A 7 min 10 second lap puts this bike lap in the top 30 lap times set this year.
Every other lap time in the top 30 was set by a supercar or track prepared Ring tool, all of which have four big, fat, sticky tyres to grip the tarmac with. The bike only has two skinny little bits of rubber down, making it even more impressive.
Can the Nurburgring bike lap record be beaten?
It’s been over 10 years since the motorbike lap record of the Nurburgring was set. In that time technology has moved on. Cars are faster, bikes are faster and tyres are grippier. In all honesty I’m surprised it hasn’t been beaten already, but there’s probably a good reason for that.
Setting that kind of lap time on a bike doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t do it after 10 laps, you can’t do it after 100 laps. Andy Carlile had done a few thousands laps of the Ring on his bike when he set the record lap time. That’s the amount of experience needed to truly have confidence in your bike, the circuit and your riding.
As the years go by the dangers of the Nurburgring become more apparent. It’s widely known that riding a motorbike around the Ring is pretty risky business, even more so during a TF session where the track is shared with cars. Many riders have been killed over the years and this is enough to put a lot of people off.
But should the right rider with the right level of experience put enough laps in, and the weather and traffic conditions align, then it can definitely be beaten.
Andy Carlile himself said in an interview in 2017 that there’s a sub-7 minute lap in there, and the traffic on his record lap cost him around 5 seconds.
Who can beat it?
In 2022, a rider called Paul Löhmer came pretty close to the motorbike lap record on his Suzuki GSX-R. He set a 7 minute 20 second lap time during a TF session, and watching the video you can see he lost a lot of time stuck behind other cars. There are a couple of points where he easily loses a few seconds just to one bit of traffic.
If anyone looks like they might be breaking the record this year, ‘rideezy’ could well be the man.