Earlier this year I was invited to Phillip Island with Audi Australia to participate in the Audi Driving Experience. It was the second time I’d taken part, previously completing the advanced driving experience at Sydney Motorsports Park, but the first time in the brand’s top spec R models (RS, R8). My introduction to Audi Driving Experience at the wheel of A and S-line models was a great day out, but the Phillip Island session was something else, and as a gift for this holiday season, it really cannot be eclipsed!
I used to laugh at my father when he’d respond to my obsession over supercars with, ‘there’s no point buying them, you can’t drive them anywhere’. I’d tell him he didn’t understand, and that he didn’t share the same passion as me, but in recent years I’ve come to realise how right he was. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great driving supercars around the city, but I’d trade a month of driving on the streets, for a single day on the track, especially the sensational Philip Island circuit.
Climbing off the minibus, from our overnight accommodation at the nearby Silverwater Resort, we were greeted by a rather enticing display of Audi’s superior performance products, including the R8 V10 Plus. Giddy with excitement we climbed the stairs to the rooms above the pit lane for breakfast, and a quick debrief about the Audi Sport program from former F1 and 5 time Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro and GM Andrew Doyle.
Our program for the day was a blend of both Audi’s Performance Driving Experience, and Sportscar Driving Experience (which includes the R8). The group was split in two and headed off to different areas of the track to perform cornering and oversteer activities, while the other half competed for the illustrious top spot in the Motokhana time trial on the wet skid pan, in an RS5, and TT RS. Slamming your foot down on an RS6 accelerator (while the instructor wills you on), and throwing the wheel down to get the huge wagon to oversteer, is quite a surreal experience. Likewise, getting to drive our long time favourite RS4 and SQ5 at speed through the Hayshed is about exhilarating as it gets.
Following the most delicious lunch I’ve ever consumed from a bain-marie, we headed back to the track for full laps in the RS6, RS7, and R8 V10 Plus. The format on the track is for drivers to follow the instructor’s racing line in their own vehicles. Each driver is given the opportunity to follow directly behind the instructor, learning how to take each corner as a professional does, before being passed on the straight by another member of the group at roughly 200km/h.
Onboard walkie talkies allow the instructor in front to provide coaching tips, and it’s surprising how much he can tell you from a glance in the review mirror. It’s a great way to harness the basics of driving on the track, and an even greater way to enjoy Audi’s top tier sports cars. Honing your skills however comes with the Audi Sports Car Experience, where a maximum of 3 guests get one on one training for an entire day in the R8 V10 Plus.
Capping off the day we had the privilege of riding alongside Emanuele Pirro in the R8 LMS race car. Secured in place by a ridiculously tight racing harness, we sat inside the stripped back R8 next to a living motorsports legend as he circuited the track at speeds the vast majority cannot even begin to comprehend. It was the grip and braking capability which really blew my mind. Once the slicks had warmed up, the LMS was cemented to the road and watching Emanuele’s control over the car magical – what an experience!
Despite missing the Motokhana podium by 1/10 of a second, I departed the Phillip Island Circuit with an unrivalled smile, although that may have been partly due to the helicopter I was sitting in. Audi’s team of instructors, ably led by Steve Pizzati, provide an unmissable experience for any motoring enthusiast with The Audi Drive Experience. Take note though, participation in the both the Performance Driving and Sports Car Experiences require adequate competition of the programs before them so you better get the Advanced Driving Experience booked in ASAP!
Prices for the Audi Driving Experiences are:
Advanced Driving Experience: $950.00 (Audi A and Q Models)
Performance Driving Experience: $1290.00 (Audi S and RS Models)
Sports Car Experience: $3,300.00 (R8 V10 Plus with One on One Personal Training)
Prices exclude travel to and accommodation at venues. For more info head to the Audi website.