The Porsche File Porsche-o-phile

Porsche High Performance Driving - Level 2

Just back from a thrilling 'half day' High Performance Driving Course with Porsche Cars Australia at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

With high hopes, Chris Mason and I left the Mornington Peninsula early in the morning (for me) for the 75 minute drive to Phillip Island. With a following wind, and it was really windy, we had time for a coffee in San Remo to share our plans and expectations of the day ahead.

And our highest expectations were probably exceeded.

On arrival we were directed to an upstairs 'retreat' where we signed in, had real coffee, and chatted while the rest of the group arrived. Meanwhile, unbeknown to us, our cars were being checked over by a Porsche mechanic, especially wheels & tyre pressures. The prospect of bad weather, some previous car problems and work commitments kept numbers down to ten for the day.

The instructors were exceptional. Craig Baird, Luke Youlden and Daniel Gaunt, all current / prior Carrera Cup drivers and current V8 Supercar co-drivers were on hand and the team was superbly led by Tomas Mezera, the 1985 Bathurst 1000 winner amongst other career highlights and now head of Porsche Australia's Driving Academy. Not only were they talented, but they were all personable and friendly to boot!

The day started with a Swerve, Correct and Braking drill. Tomas was the instructor and gave each driver clear directions, set expectations and encouraged all to push past their comfort zone to get a better 'feel' for the car under load / stress. A challenging and enjoyable session.

So as not to get too stressed, we came in for morning coffee and tea, fruit, water, muffins etc. With a chill wind outside, several were keen to stay inside but two more drills awaited us before lunch.

The next drill, led by Luke & Daniel, was a simulated wet road / skid pan exercise designed to enable the drivers to get a feel of correcting the car in a slide and 'aim' it towards an exit point some 50 metres down the track. With adequate power and no traction control, the GT3 was big fun!

A very brief clip of lots of arm work and facial distortion, but the right result! - 2013

The last session before lunch was a motorkhana run through an 'Out & Back' course through cones laid out over some 400 - 500 metres. The purpose of this exercise was to carry as much speed as possible butt to look up and forward at the 'gaps' between the cones and not at the cones themselves. This was to re-enforce the message that you aim and drive (and end up) where you look.

Then it was time for lunch, and what a spread it was. Felt more like a 4-star restaurant meal than a quick bite at a race track. Sadly while we were enjoying the feast and chatting about the morning's training, the weather closed in. To put it mildly. Torrential rain reduced the track to more of a lake than a road.

Hoping the weather would lift, Luke Youlden took the opportunity to drive three students around the sodden track in a new Cayenne S. This experience alone was worth the price of admission. A bellowing 2+ tonne beast, driven hard in extreme conditions, with the driver calmly talking through braking markers, entry points, apexes etc while mentioning 'it is really slippery here' as the full mass of the Cayenne moved gracefully across the track before being rounded up and herded towards the next corner at full noise. Total respect for the capabilities of the Cayenne and the talent of the driver. Truly memorable.

A wet PI
A wet Phillip Island - Photo by Chris Mason

In the early afternoon for safety reasons, Tomas called the day off. Our disappointment was somewhat softened by the offer of some credit against a future course at the Porsche driver training facility at Mt Cotton in Queensland. To a person, everyone in the room was making mental plans / developing excuses to be able to attend one of those sessions.

The Porsche events often seem expensive, but I have never attended a Porsche Australia activity or function and left anything less than fully satisfied and impressed. The Level 2 driver training course was no exception. Thanks to the team for making it such an enjoyable experience.