For many, the Nurburgring is a rite of passage. Ferraris scream, AMGs roar, and Porsches wail as each dances on the grip limit on the hallowed asphalt of the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Each and every one on a quest for a quicker lap time. Yet, amid the symphony of supercar sounds, a humble sound once rose above the rest with the clatter of a 1,4-litre diesel engine nestled within the unassuming frame of a Citroen AX, the most unlikely Nurburgring hero, probably of all time.

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One Man, One Impossible Lap

There are many great, record-setting laps that have taken place at the ‘Green Hell’, so named by F1 champion Jackie Stewart, for its unforgiving nature. But this isn’t one of those headline grabbing events. In fact, this video is years old, but it can serve as a lesson for us all to never stop pursuing our goals.

This is the calculated attempts of one man and a humble machine. It’s a testament to the indomitable spirit of an enthusiast named Nic BTG. Over seven years, he poured his heart and soul into his $hitbox Citroen AX, transforming it from a grocery-getter into a Nürburgring warrior. Gone were the creature comforts, replaced by stripped out interior, body bracing, and footwear capable of surviving the treacherous tarmac.

Click here to watch our managing editor tackle the Nordschleife.

Factory Power

The naturally aspirated engine, however, remained largely stock. It has just about 40 kW on a car that tipped the scales at 720 kg. This wasn’t about brute force but finesse and exploiting the AX’s inherent agility. After countless laps, powertrain changes (nine engines later), and heart-stopping moments, the impossible became reality. In 2013, the diesel AX, christened “AX BTG,” crossed the finish line in a staggering 9 minutes and 55 seconds (Bridge to Gantry), forever etching its name into Nürburgring lore.

Click here to watch a Porsche prototype reset the all-time ‘Ring lap record.

A Long Quest

But Nic’s story wasn’t just about a sub-10-minute lap but defying expectations. This unlikely Nurburgring hero did 118 laps of the track (over 2 200 km) spread across 10 different trips. Summer meant cramming his hatchback with dreams bigger than its engine and traversing the 1 115 km to the Nürburgring from his hometown of Bordeaux, France.

Trackside? A tent by day, his trusty AX doubling as a budget bedroom by night. Forget fancy hotels, this was DIY speed at its finest. Every euro saved counting towards another lap. It was about proving that passion, skill, and a splash of madness can elevate even the most basic car to extraordinary heights. It was a middle finger to supercar supremacy. A beacon of hope for those who cheer for the underdog, in the art of squeezing magic from seemingly mundane machinery.

AX Heroes

And Nic wasn’t alone. Another AX, piloted by the equally determined David Addison, followed suit in 2014, claiming a 9 min 52 lap. These AX heroes weren’t just conquering the Nürburgring; they were conquering hearts, inspiring a generation of enthusiasts to look beyond the badge and unlock the hidden potential within their four-wheeled companions.

The echoes of these AX exploits still resonate today. Videos of their Nürburgring dances circulate online, each squeal of tyres and flatshift a testament to the dedication and skill that went into each lap. They serve as a reminder that the thrill of driving doesn’t reside solely in power or downforce; it lives in the connection between driver and machine, in the pursuit of a seemingly impossible dream.

Never Underestimate

If ever you see a Citroen AX, don’t dismiss it as a relic of the past. See it as a potential giant slayer, a reminder that greatness can come in the most unexpected packages. And who knows, maybe it will inspire you to rewrite your own automotive story. To unlock the hidden potential in your humble steed. Proving that even the smallest flame can light the way to extraordinary journeys. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you drive, as long as you get out there and drive.