The Porsche File Porsche-o-phile

John Bowe High Performance Driver Training

On Monday I attended a John Bowe High Performance Driver Training Day at Winton Raceway in northern Victoria.

My GT3 buddy Chris and I drove up Sunday afternoon, got squared away in our motel in Benalla and set about planning the day ahead over a quiet beverage. We then joined a number of the other drivers for an enjoyable dinner at 'Georginas' before retiring early.

A desirable collection of cars turned out, the majority of which were Porsches of various models & vintages, but also included a vintage LHD fastback Mustang, an XT GT Falcon, a GT-86 Toyota, a Lotus Elise, a BMW M3, a couple of FPV and HSVs, and a Turbo Astra. Interestingly no Evos, WRXs, Ferraris, Mercedes or Minis amongst the 26 attendees.

John Bowe Day
Early morning at Winton - Photo by Chris Mason 2013

Very warm conditions greeted all drivers on the day and the shade of the garage with a cold water bottle in hand was a popular pastime throughout the day. My Winton best is 1.38.1 and I thought I would be happy if could get in the 1.39s and delighted to repeat a 1.38. Little did I know how hard it was going to be... I participated in the warm up, although untimed, I felt pretty good in the car. So I confidently ignored the detailed track inspection preferring the aforementioned shade / water. Interestingly, a number of drivers complained of motion sickness, especially in the morning. with one being so bad he had to retire before lunch.

Once broken up into groups with our instructors, we were sent out to set a baseline time. Mine was 1.41.7, pretty ordinary but I claim that I only got one clear flying lap so I was sure that better times were ahead. Then my instructor Dean got in with me for a few laps, and I ploughed around doing nothing better than 1.43. Back in the pits Dean proceeded to describe the litany of things that I was doing wrong.

Time for lunch, a fine BBQ with salads was enjoyed but I didn't eat too much as immediately after lunch I was due to head out with Dean driving just to show me what should be done. And wearing a full face helmet, I didn't want things to get 'sticky'.

He did three quick laps although outright times were impacted by traffic it really showed me (again) what my car was capable of. And it is always nice to see a professional at work. So after a suitable cooling off period, I had another go. Another three flying lap stint, and I am not sure that I saw better than 1.43 again. Oh dear, getting hotter, going slower and becoming more depressed! As you do, I then stood around the garage lamenting with other drivers about the 'difficult' conditions etc when it came time for our last official instructor timed run to see if we had improved.

Well, it is now or never. With a couple of line changes and a higher gear through the sweeper planned in my head I set out with only modest hopes. Started with a 1.43, then a 1.41, a 1.40.2 and with one last gasp trying to be as smooth as possible I managed to pull out a 1.39.7 on the very last lap of the day. I was stuffed when I got out of the car.

Thanks to my instructor Dean Sammit for his professional support, bravery and guidance. I really enjoyed the camaraderie and chat with the other drivers which made the day a lot of fun. So overall, another enjoyable and safe day at the scenic Winton track.