A lap around the BILSTER BERG – with Stéphane Ortelli

Stéphane Ortelli is a full-blooded racing driver. Like many, the 50-year-old Frenchman started out in karting and gained his first experience in Formula Renault and French Formula 3, but his greatest successes came in the sports car scene. He won the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998, was the winner of the 24 Hours of Spa in 2003 and won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2005. Ortelli still pursues his affinity for racing and is, among other things, a test driver for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe.

A few weeks ago, Ortelli was at the BILSTER BERG for the first time to test the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing GR Supra GT4. He summed up his impressions like this: “It’s my first time at the BILSTER BERG and it feels like a flashback for me. It’s a fantastic track that leaves no room for mistakes. You have to get used to the track in the beginning before you can push your limits. The track is a lot of fun because the layout is great. All the crests and dips are really interesting. The blind corners complete the challenge. Also, the track has no bumps to upset you, just natural bumps.”

Then Stéphane Ortelli takes us on a lap of the BILSTER BERG. This is his ideal line:

Three, two, one and go… I get over the start/finish straight and set off for the first corner. Turn 1, the Kugelkopf, is very interesting, as you have to brake hard on a rising sharp right-hand bend. In the Toyota GR Supra GT4, you drive this corner in third gear. It is important to accelerate again as early as possible at the end of the curve, as the track continues to climb.

Turn 2, the Fledermaushügel, is easy to master. It is a fast chicane that is driven in fourth gear.

In turn 3, the Pumpenhaus, you have to take the inside lane so that you can pass turn 4, the Munitionsfeld, at full throttle. It continues on the inside line in fifth gear.

When you reach curve 5, the Jägerbuche, you shift back into third gear. Here you have to be careful and keep a cool head, because the topography means that the track continues to climb. Therefore, it is important to get on the brakes in time.

At the exit of curve 5, you should aim for the centre line. This is the perfect starting point for the series of bends 6-7-8. The track continues uphill until curve 8, the Sauwechsel, where it starts to go downhill again. Turn 8 is a very exciting turn, because the car can easily lift off and there is a loss of traction on the rear wheels. Nevertheless, you continue to give it full throttle.

Now the track suddenly drops sharply, a really great feeling. A blind summit follows, then you are already at curve 9, the Telegrafenbogen. A fast curve that is driven in fourth gear. Here the car is pushed onto the inside. You have to get off the brakes early to be able to maintain speed on the inside line and then come to turn 10 at full throttle.

The crest of curve 10, the Kommandantur, resembles a leap on the Nürburgring. The car is practically hanging in the air with all four wheels here, because behind the crest, the descent is 26 %. You land in turn 11, the Mausefalle, one of my favourites. Here it is impossible to avoid touching the ground with the front spoiler in the Toyota GR Supra GT4. Due to the heavy braking, the car is pressed heavily against the ground here. Super!

The Steilwand, turn 12, is one of my favourites, which is difficult to navigate. Here, at full throttle in fifth gear, it goes straight back uphill steeply. Immediately afterwards, in turn 13, the Bilster Kuppe, the car takes off a little and the inside wheels spin slightly.

Here you have to position yourself correctly in order to be able to approach turn 14, the Hochsitz, in an ideal way. Then follows a chicane, the Clubhouse-S, in curve 15-16. As the name of the curve suggests, the sequence of curves is a long S-curve, which you drive through on the inside in fourth gear.

Then it’s off to the Pömbser Höhe. Here you have to get everything out of the car and accelerate as fast as possible to reach top speed. During our test, we also used the chicane at the end of the Pömbser Höhe before the courageous curve, curve 17. This is also a great long curve that is driven in fifth gear.

Another long straight follows, the Nieheimer Senke, which reminds me personally of “Road America” in the United States. Then you are already on the last stretch of the track in turn 18, the Hügelgrab, another very demanding chicane, which you tackle offensively and at high speed.

In the 19th and last bend, the Oeynhausen Kehre, you shift down from fifth to fourth to third gear. This sounds easier than it is and is also very important, because the track starts to climb again here. Finally, you turn onto the start/finish straight, where you accelerate as fast as possible once again on the long straight between the two pit lanes in order to squeeze out the last few seconds.

“It’s a really fantastic track, which is now one of my favourites after testing with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe. Definitely top 3! One reason for this is definitely the challenge the track poses to the driver, but also because of the blind corners. I’ll definitely be back soon!”, concludes Ortelli at the end of the tests with the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing GR Supra GT4 on the BILSTER BERG.


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