Story by Paul Maric, photos by CJC Photography
Two Porsches, one a 911 GT3, the other a 911 Turbo, one Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, one Aston Martin V8 Vantage, one Audi R8, one BMW M3, one Ford GT and one revised Datsun…err, I mean Nissan GT-R.
What do all these cars have in common?
Well, Phillip Island Raceway, of course.
Finding any excuse to tag along, I boarded the luxury coach for the bus ride to Phillip Island. The special thing about this track day is the level of machinery on offer. It’s not the run of the mill race cars you would expect to see moving about the track, these are road going supercars.
While we were riding the bus through Melbourne traffic and onward to the Island, the Supercar Club team was driving all eight cars to the racetrack. The point therein being that the cars will also be driven back from the race track when they’ve completed their service on the track.
The cars were on track from around 9:00am through to around 4:00pm with just a one hour break for lunch. It’s a considerable feat when you consider they were being driven by regular Joes, so you could expect a lot of clutch riding and apex hopping from people who aren’t familiar with a racetrack.
Back on the bus though, I sat down and had a quick chat with two blokes who were experiencing their first track day with the Supercar Club.
One of the guys, – a computer consultant from the great US of A – Brent, was looking forward to setting foot in the GT-R, along with the 911 GT3 and the right-hand-drive converted Ford GT. He’s not unfamiliar with the GT-R though, purchasing one of the first available on the US market, a car that he describes as scary.
Unfortunately, his only experience with Aussie muscle was a rental Holden Commodore Omega, of which he didn’t think all that highly, what a surprise!
My other victim was a Queensland property developer whose daily runabout is a BMW X5. Asked what he was expecting from the day, he said he wanted to have a lot of fun and try something new.
Although he had never raced at Phillip Island, he was looking forward to manhandling the GT-R and the 911 Turbo.
No sooner had we finished those chats than we arrived at Phillip Island.
First stop was the corporate lounge where we scoffed down coffee and pastries, just before sitting down for the safety briefing. For those unfamiliar with these types of gigs, there is normally a set of instructors who will ride shotgun with you around the track, helping you work through corners and making sure you don’t park the $500,000+ Superleggera into the Hayshed walls!
The professional instructors, some of whom have raced V8 Supercars, stay calm even at the most alarming of times.
As quick as it started, everyone was out and allocated to their cars. Groups of three would rotate between seven cars, while one would remain off the track on standby.
While the first few rotations had drivers taking it relatively easy (no throttle by the last shed in the pits), it didn’t take long for them to gain confidence. The middle of the day had the 911 Turbo knocking on 270km/h down the straight and all drivers kept the throttle well and truly planted through the overpass at the end of the pits.
All cars on track were fitted with stability control, except the RHD Ford GT, so it was crucial for drivers to stay within their limits with this car. Fitted with a supercharged 5.4-litre V8, it produces just shy of 420kW, that’s enough to fill a pair of undies in less than 0.5-seconds if the right foot misbehaves!
It’s a different story with the GT-R though; the Supercar Club owns the last allowed import to hit Australian shores.
Just before pulling into Phillip Island, it had its speed limiter removed and was ready to tackle bends.
Everyone who had a steer of the Japanese warrior said that although it wasn’t overly involving, it pushed through corners at unimaginable speeds.
According to most, the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera was the flavor of the day. Its bellowing V10 engine note and stupendous cornering ability hitting the right tune with all. Fitted with the e-gear gearbox, it was also easy to drive.
Also down for the track day was the team from Radical Australia. I must admit, prior to the track day I had never heard of Radical. Well, after three hot laps in the Radical SR3 with Garth Walden I was lost for words.
Powered by a Suzuki 1.5-litre Powertec engine. The SR3 produces 188kW (252bhp), giving it a 348kW/tonne power/weight ratio! Although we’ll cover Radicals cars in more detail down the track, I found it hard to describe in words just how fast this thing is.
Hand gestures involving sweeping bends and braking were the only form of communication required for punters taken for a ride in the Radical. The sensation of 250km/h down the straight with no windscreen is hard to describe, the cornering velocities even more so.
By the time we finished up in the Radical, drivers were heading back into the pits for a debrief. There we caught our two interviewees to see what they thought of the day.
Both were extremely impressed by not only the day, but also the impeccable organisation by the Supercar Club and the instructors. At $4995 per person, both guys said they would be back at the drop of a hat; describing it as the best value money can buy.
The best part of all was that each and every car made it through the day and was driven back to the Supercar Club headquarters in Melbourne. That is except the Audi R8, we poached that for a road test – more on this in the week to follow.
While this type of track day is reserved for members of the Supercar Club and is strictly for participants only, the Supercar Club has launched Octane Supercar Events, which opens up this type of track experience to regular punters.
If driving a supercar around the track isn’t your type of thing, you can buy a hot lap. But, if you fancy a thrash around the track of an expensive supercar, line right up, this is the place to be!
The track days involve tuition in a smaller track car before stepping into the real thing and going hell for leather.
In addition to track days, punters can also buy drive experiences. Departing from Melbourne or Sydney, the drive experiences allow buyers to rotate between a set of supercars over the course of the day. Lunch, fuel and insurance are thrown in to what can only be described as the ultimate driving day.
Head to www.supercarevents.com.au to find out more!