The Porsche File Porsche-o-phile

PCV Sprint - Winton and Fitzgerald Driver Training Day

We were again looking forward to our annual Queens Birthday long weekend trip to Benalla to compete at Winton Raceway and enjoy the fine food and wines of the north-central Victorian region. The weather was seriously cold overnight (below freezing, brrrr) but the days were cloudless and glorious. We trailered up on the Saturday and again the Toyota / Featherlite combo was superb. The Comfort Inn in Benalla is a very comfortable place to stay with a major advantage of having secure off street parking for trailers and race cars.

I told you it was cold!!!

Saturday evening we enjoyed a delightful meal at The North Eastern Hotel. Excellent staff, great produce cooked with great care and attention to detail. Snapper for him and chicken for her. The wine list has a good spread of local wines. We (I?) chose a Redbank ' Early Sunday Morning' Pinot Gris. Excellent.

The Porsche Club competition event at the tight and testing Winton Raceway on Sunday was a great day.

All drivers got a minimum of five sessions (one warm up lap, four timed laps and a cool down lap per session, and the smart ones got six, however I was snoozing somewhere... I was just 0.2 seconds off my Personal Best so just a bit disappointing. I was probably being a bit conservative and not enough aggression. More about that later.

A nice dinner at Georgina's in the heart of town followed the track day. This is a regular haunt for us and it lived up to it's usual standard for local produce, both food and wine. Sadly, Jade, the jovial hostess, was limping around in a moon boot after a slight accident. The injury did not affect her 'entertaining' perceptions of Benalla, tourists and the world in general. Following a decent nights sleep, we headed out for a day of King Valley wine country touring on Sunday. After some morning tea and a wine tasting in Milawa / Oxley we headed off to towards Whitfield where we enjoyed a delightful minestrone soup & Margherita pizza lunch washed down with some pleasant Redbank wines. Dinner was an OK pub meal at the Bridge Hotel. Dodgy wine list though...

A rare apex... (Photo by Robin Humphries)

I had heard that there was a Peter Fitzgerald Driver Training Day scheduled for Winton on the Tuesday and it was under-subscribed. Given my performance, and with Robin's blessing, we stayed an extra day and under clear skies again, I participated in this event. Absolutely fantastic. Only four cars, with Winton Raceway totally to ourselves. Two Porsches (mine and a 997 C2S) and two BMW M3s, who were Fitzgerald Racing Services customers. Peter was great, took an hour or so with a white board discussing racing strategy & planning, describing / studying the Winton layout where to be quick, which kerbs to avoid, lines & braking points, aiming point through the sweeper (gold!) and other details.

At the start we went out for a few slow sighting laps (no helmets) behind Peter in the 997. One of the M3s spun right in front of me on the sighting laps! Then we each did five laps and our best time identified. Mine was a 1.43. Peter then drove us around in our cars, two 'hot' laps to set a benchmark time. Not car breaking pace and very smooth, about a 1.36 in the GT3, two-up. I am not a good passenger but I actually enjoyed it. As soon as he did his laps, we were instructed to go straight back out again and try and replicate what he showed us to set another time. Then he got in the passenger seat to instruct us around the track. He is an excellent and clear communicator. Then we enjoyed a tasty BBQ lunch, more white board / Q&A stuff, more timed laps then a challenge to beat Peter's estimate of how quick he thought each driver should go. For me that target was a 1.38.5. At end of the day, my best was a 1.39.2. Peter thought I should have gone faster so I let him down. And he told me so! But I was very happy as I had improved nearly three seconds from Sunday, and over 2.5 seconds from my previous PB, and I did many laps in the 1.39s, while still making plenty of 'mistakes'.

A fantastic day indeed!

For dinner we found 'Rafferty's' a popular Benalla bistro. It was our first time to try it and we left most impressed. A very comfortable room, great open fire with an excellent menu, if slightly too 'fishy' for Robin's liking. Surprisingly, it was chicken for her and snapper for me (again). After a hard day of driving and a great meal I fell into bed quite exhausted.

After one last breakfast at the Benalla Bakery we set sail for home after a really fantastic Queen's Birthday break.