There's something really special about Phillip Island. It's one of the quickest race tracks you'll ever come across and if the pace doesn't make your heart flutter, the scenery certainly will.
Throw some stupidly quick Audi RS models into the mix and you've got a smile inducing recipe for fun.
Audi has rejigged its Audi driving experience program by changing the layout of the courses within the program, along with bolstering the local offering with international drive experiences that range from ice covered fields, all the way through to epic Austrian mountain passes in convertible R8 V10 Spyders.
We joined the Audi team at Phillip Island race track in Victoria to sample the entry level Audi Dynamic driving experience, which is open to all drivers aged over 21 regardless of whether they own an Audi or not.
The program is led by Audi Australia's chief driving instructor, Steve Pizzati, who himself is an engineer and former racing driver.
His team includes some of the best known names in Australian racing with over 100 Bathurst 1000 starts between them.
Participants have open access to these racing greats and are offered an opportunity to hone their driving skills and learn from the best in the business about driving fast safely.
After sinking some coffee and breakfast treats, participants are split into groups and head out to start their day. Each group rotates through four exercises that build up to the afternoon track lapping activity.
- Braking (Audi SQ7)
- This exercise aims to get drivers familiar with car control at the limits of braking. Getting a feel of what the car does under brakes prepares them for what they will experience later on in the day with fast track laps.
- Oversteer (Audi RS6)
- Punching the throttle in an Audi RS6 in the wet is never a good idea – unless you're on the skid pan at Phillip Island, of course! This exercise helps participants understand what the car feels like when it's sideways and how to control the vehicle with minor inputs.
- Slalom (Audi RS5)
- Often the hardest part of track driving is managing sudden direction changes under throttle. The tight slalom course attacked with an Audi RS5 is the perfect way to get an understanding of how steering inputs and the throttle can affect a car's direction.
- High speed cornering (Audi RS3)
- This is arguably the most valuable exercise. Participants attack turn two at Phillip Island at speed to understand the optimal line to take through the corner for maximum speed and least driving off the track into Bass Strait.
At each exercise you'll find a race driver or drivers who will coach you through the best way to manage each activity. Listening here will make your life easier for the afternoon session where the reins are loosened for high speed laps of this epic race track.
In the afternoon you'll work your way through the RS3, RS5 and TT RS on the race track. In groups of two you will follow a lead driver in an RS6 who will set the pace and offer tuition as you pump out laps of the track.
This experience becomes rewarding because you're able to put the morning's exercises into practice and feel like you're half decent at driving around Phillip Island.
It's important to remember that if you're not confident, the lead vehicle will slow to your pace. It's a no pressure environment that is designed to allow you to have fun and enjoy the cars, regardless of your previous experience.
If the entry-level course isn't enough for you, you can step up to the Audi Sport Pro driving experience, which includes a set of R8 V10 and R8 V10 Plus road cars. From there it's on to the racing experience where you will pilot an Audi R8 LMS race car - eek!
Audi has also added a course called the Audi Women's driving experience, which Audi says "caters for females who prefer to attend with like-minded women to experience the thrilling course."
Australia not scenic enough for you? How about an ice driving experience, or an alpine tour of Europe?
The ice driving experience takes place in Austria, on a plateau between the Wetterstein mountains and the Karwendel. The program allows participants to learn more about the finer points of car control and really experience Audi's famous quattro system in a controlled environment.
Probably the most exciting program would be the five day European alpine tour in the R8 V10 Spyder. The experience includes all your accommodation, meals and cars.
If you're planning on signing up to one of these driving course, I can offer you one piece of advice. Be prepared to listen. Park any preconceptions about being an ace driver and get ready to relearn how to drive fast properly. That mentality will net you the most from this experience.
- Audi Dynamic driving experience (1 day) $1250
- Audi Women's driving experience (3/4 day) $800
- Audi Sport Pro driving experience (1 day) $3500
- Audi Race driving experience (1 day) $6800
- Audi R8 Spyder European tour (5 days) $7250
- Audi Ice driving experience (TBC) TBC