The Porsche File Porsche-o-phile

Featherlite Trailer - Model 3110

With an upcoming track outing scheduled for Easter 2010 at Australia's most iconic circuit, Mt Panorama, Bathurst, I needed a way to transport my GT3 (and spares, etc) to central New South Wales.

Luckily Santa was listening and managed to secure me the last 2009 model 14ft Featherlite Model 3110 flat bed car trailer in Australia. It is pretty basic, all extruded aluminium sides and floor construction, with dual electric braked axles (with break-away system), LED lights, 6ft ramps and removable mud guards to aid vehicle entry / exit. To finish it to my initial requirements, it requires an electric winch and some additional tie down options but it will surely do the job in the immediate term. A front air dam / storage section can be added sometime down the track. With all of the imperial measurements, no prizes for guessing that it is an American-made trailer.

Photos courtesy of Featherlite Australia

I will post additional pictures and ownership impressions once we get the GT3 actually ON the trailer. Still a little work to do to get the ramp approach angles correct as the car is so damn low!

PCV Annual Dinner Dance

With Christmas nearly here again, the whirlwind of year end functions is upon us. In early December we attended the Porsche Club of Victoria Annual Ball at the delightfully historic Windsor Hotel in the city. A great time was had by all, and an even better time was had by some if you believe the rumours and / or the BAC tests!

Grant Stephenson (a PCV competition legend), moi & the lovely Robin - PCV Annual Ball 2009 - (Photo by Felix)

And now my second DNF...

After the disappointment at Calder the previous week, a simple repair had the GT3 ready and raring to go for the Porsche Club Regularity over the weekend of 28/29 November as part of the Shannons Nationals event.

My practice session on Saturday afternoon was almost incident free, with just a slight wiggle (OK then, a wild tank slapper) coming out of the last corner on the very last lap.

Back in the pits, the dozen or so competitors involved got together to exchange stories and discuss possible times for the regularity proper on Sunday.

After ten minutes I wandered back to my car only to find fluid dripping, then gushing from the rear of the car. The sniff and smear test indicated that it was coolant leaking heavily from somewhere, not obvious.

Horrid things go through your mind at moments like this. How do I get home, how much will this cost, why me principal amongst them. After a period of time I was fortunate to get a bit of advice from a Porsche mechanic in attendance (thanks to Nick from Weltmeister) who thought it was the bottom of a coolant line from the engine to the front-mounted radiators which had split. It seemed to hold together OK when under pressure so his suggestion was to re-fill with water, keep my eye seriously on the temperature gauge but the car should get the 30 minute freeway journey home.

We went back on Sunday in the Land Cruiser and watched the others go round in slightly slippery conditions but obviously enjoying themselves. I really wanted to be out there with them. Another 40 minute session at Sandown with them would have been great.

The guys from Jocaro Motors duly picked up the car from home the next week and sure enough, the line had split (from the inside?) and both In & Out lines were changed as a precaution and the system pressure re-tested OK. All at a very reasonable cost. Phew.

Let's hope I get some trouble free hot laps soon. Like at a fair dinkum practice session with a bunch of semi-pro GT Championship (Ferrari / Viper / Porsche) guys at Phillip Island on December 16!

My first DNF...

I guess it had to happen sometime, but I have now had my first DNF at a track day.

A fellow GT3 owner and I attended an open practice session on the National Circuit at Calder Raceway today. The day dawned hot with a forecast temperature of 36 C. After a slow 90 minute drive across town in peak hour traffic in the GT3, I arrived at Calder around 8.30 to be greeted by my mate who was paid up, kitted up and raring to go.

So I found the office, paid my fees, and had my car and safety gear scrutineered. So, all good so far. The order of running on these days are alternating half hour sessions for open wheel cars followed by saloons, starting at 9AM. The safety officer duly advised us that as there were no open wheelers present, the track was ours! With only our two GT3s on the track, it was a great feeling. The surface felt a bit slippery but after about four laps my confidence was growing and then it happened. Entering Turn One, I down changed to fourth, then third, accelerated through, went for second for the tighter turns Three & Four and the gear lever felt like a spoon in a bowl of jelly. So with the car still in (and stuck in) third, I sadly made my way back to the pits.

No noises, no smells and upon inspection, no dropping of oil or fluids. My mechanical skills run to having my Porsche service folks on speed dial. I duly leveraged those skills only to be informed that most of them were at another track day at Phillip Island. A brief over-the-phone diagnosis indicated that it might be the gear selector cable coming unclipped from the gearbox. Sounded too simple. Luckily, a Porsche Melbourne mechanic was there and I asked to borrow his jack so I could check under my car (yeh right) and he offered to take a quick look. A clip which presumably was holding the cables on in the first place, was lying under the car (lucky or what) and he was able to clamp & crimp the cables back on well enough for me to make a nervous drive back to my service guys for a permanent fix. Many thanks to Porsche Centre support! Only 10 minutes of effort but 100% skill!

Regularly readers of this site will know that I have been a bit critical of Calder Raceway in the past. Sure the facilities are under going (and need) some updating but I must say all the staff I dealt with this morning, Bill on the gate, Robbie in the office and Peter, the safety officer / track time scheduler were extremely welcoming and efficient. And, for the clincher, as I had left early after my incident, I was offered a free replacement session. Great customer service!

Sadly, I let my Porsche buddy down today as we were looking forward driving the track 'together', comparing notes, lines. times, tyre pressures etc. and are now planning to go back on December 11. I am looking forward to a few more laps next time.

The Track Hack acquires A Tyre Dog!

This month's 'investment' is a wireless tyre pressure / temperature monitor, a Tyre Dog TD-1000A-X.

Although posted in 'The Porsche File' and intended primarily for use with the GT3 to measure track day race tyre temperatures, the sensors can be easily transferred for use on any car or 4WD. Initial installation and configuration was really easy for a non-technical person like me, and the sensor and receiver batteries are standard over-the-counter types which should make ongoing serviceability quite easy. Good!

The battery powered sensors screw on the to the valve stem (in place of the valve cap) and transmit back to a hand held visual display unit which shows tyre pressure and / or temperature by wheel. It is configurable to alarm if either temperature or pressure move outside pre-set upper or lower limits and to define imperial or metric measurements. For in car installation for road car touring purposes, the Tyre Dog comes with a range of dash / windscreen mounts.

Detailed specifications can be found on the TyreDog website.

A fellow GT3 owner has one and used it most successfully on a recent road and track trip to South Australia. My first practical test will be Presidents Day at Sandown on Sunday. A useful tool to obtain a more consistent track performance is the objective.

PCV Haunted Hills Hill Climb

Another great day in prospect for the PCV hill climb event at the (newly named) Bryant Park, Haunted Hills circuit just outside of Moe, Victoria.

Some perspective of the elevation changes - The 'Bowl' from above (Canon IXUS 850 IS) ©2009

Ya gotta love Victorian weather! We left home when it was 3.5C. At the track it was 9C, the first session or so there was no heat in the tyres. It got warm close to lunch. And after the break I smothered my face in sun screen as I was burning badly. Then the change came, the heavens opened and people got drenched and froze again only to have glaring sunshine in our eyes on the drive home. Go figure!

So what about the event?

While I improved from my time in March by over a second, I was a little disappointed that I couldn't go a little quicker. Oh well, baby steps.....

My hard working pit crew (Dad!) - (Canon IXUS 850 IS) ©2009

The normal circuit is great, but the organisers threw a curve ball this event but running a slightly different pattern in the afternoon, moving to a figure eight configuration. Another challenge and really interesting.

The track is fantastic and the local car club who manage the facility are aggressively adding a clubhouse, covered pits, and other facilities. Congratulations to them.

I am already looking forward to heading back in 2010!

PCV Calder Sprint

It was with some trepidation that I ventured out to Calder for this event. The last time I competed here was an evening event, I was in the Boxster 'S' and seriously thought I should change interests to marbles or hop scotch or something. I was AWFUL. A mobile chicane, folks passing me out of corners at 2x my pace. I sat out the last two sessions to do everyone else a favour.

Early signs weren't promising. The weather was cold & windy with ever threatening rain. Also Calder Park is a little run down these days, with only minimal investment in the track and facilities. At least it is close to the city and available, let's be positive!

Unfortunately, I gridded up on the front row of my group, got flagged away first and proceeded to head down to Turn One with some speed and enthusiasm. Sadly, my memory of the distance between Turns 1 and 2, and 2 & 3 were a bit different to reality and I have to brake and shuffle and bumble my way around. Worse was to come! No real dramas up the back straight through the kink and the start of the esses, but I got confused(!) about where the final turn was to lead back onto the main straight. There was a 'track', there was a 'road' and there was 'another road' all within thirty metres. Arghhh. When in doubt, take the middle one. And it worked. Phew!! And this is the supposed warm up lap! Lucky I wasn't wearing a heart rate monitor! I am pleased to say that it got a bit better as the day went on. Another excellently organised event with at least three sessions before lunch, a couple after before the rain / cold finally set in. I did manage a Personal Best at that track, not hard given my previous trials and tribulations in a different (& slower car).

The GT3 ran superbly all day after the recent changes / upgrades, and the new Dorian timing box was really easy to fit and recorded faultlessly.

I managed to get into the 1.07s before the late afternoon drizzle arrived, which I was pleased with. As always, I felt I left a second or so out there so I look forward to coming back to Calder again soon. Who would have thought that I would ever say that!

My GT3 & Tim Stevenson's MX5 in the grunge at Calder - (Photo by Ryan Marsh)

Some friends turned up to support me on the day (thanks Tim & Ryan) and via Ryan's lens I have a fantastic selection of photos of the day. Thanks for the pictures above (Tim with your humble correspondent and our cars) and one of Ryan's very best of the GT3 and hack driver below. Many thanks Ryan, love your work!

GT3 Freshen Up

Well, I have been planning to upgrade the GT3 for some time and having now 'bitten the bullet' these changes are underway.

The car has just returned from the workshop at Jocaro Motors this week. Much work was done on the gearbox, clutch, wheel bearings and front brakes and naturally this has improved the overall mechanical condition significantly. A new Dorian timing device has been fitted along with a revised secondary bonnet catch. All of these mechanical updates come after some cosmetic detailing work on the exterior a month ago. Also I now have a standard Porsche steering wheel fitted which brightens up the interior and makes the car more user-friendly on the road.

At the end of this years track day season, subject to a reasonable quote, I would like to re-spray the nose which is pretty badly chipped and marked. Also at that time the OZ Racing track wheels and tyres will come off and my standard GT3 road wheels and tyres will be used for 'summer' touring.

Finally I will add some new personalised number plates which I recently sourced. A quick sneak peak of those below.

By year end, 'Nemo' should look fantastic and be performing superbly!

The Turbo gets a new windscreen

As part of the purchase / roadworthy process a new windscreen was required to be fitted to the 993 Turbo. There was quite a wait for one to be sourced by the dealer and it finally arrived and was fitted this week.

All done and there appears to be a little darker tint on the top of the screen which will be good for those bright sunny days when you are looking for just a little extra sun and glare protection. Good work Marcus and Rob!

PCV Sandown Sprint

My track days have been limited of late, so I was pumped up for this weekend's PCV event at Sandown Raceway and prepared my kit 24 hours in advance and gave the GT3 a full wash and clean. It looked fantastic. Must be worth a second or two a lap!


The day dawned fairly sunny, but with a very strong breeze providing a tail wind down the front straight and a headwind on the back straight. A great turnout of some 90 cars from older 911s, some water-cooled front engines jobbies to track-focused RS/GT3/Turbo types. No major incidents occurred during the day and all entrants had a chance to participate in six runs, totalling 36 laps on the day. An extremely well organised and competitor friendly event. Well done at all!

After a slow start, I managed to get my act together after the lunch break and with a bit of concentration I was able to beat my personal best at this track by nearly two seconds. Very happy! Should wash the car more often.....

Lunch @ Willow Creek Winery

We broke out of our winter funk with a fabulous lunch with some fellow 'rev heads' recently. A gorgeous window table for six at Salix Restaurant at Willow Creek Winery on the Mornington Peninsula.

The Baxter's Audi S3, The Mason's Ferrari 360 and our Porsche 911 Turbo

The food was superb and the local sparkling and premium chardy were also pretty special. The conversation was car, photography and business oriented, in that order! All of us had managed to acquire 'new' cars in recent times and it seemed the perfect opportunity to clean them, drive them a little and share the love! And recently returned from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Chris kindly delivered some gifts for the assembled Porsche cogniscenti...... Thanks!

Posing with the 'King'. (Photo by Julie Mason)

PCV Winter Run - Maryborough Railway Station

The PCV seasonal tours are always quickly booked out so we got our entry in very early, even though I knew nothing about the destination. But the journey is most of the fun anyway.

So with the Turbo well cleaned we set off towards the meeting place at Bacchus Marsh. A fine collection of Porsches of all vintages awaited us. Pleasantries were exchanged, welcomes, words of driving wisdom and maps dispensed we then departed for our morning tea stop at the CFA in Maldon. As always the food provided by the ladies would make lunch redundant if we had not already booked. I can report that the sponge cake was outstanding!

On arrival at the station we were guided to park our vehicles on the platform with a couple I thought going precariously close to the edge for my liking.

The station itself is impressively large and stately, being built back in a period when the gold mining boom was fuelling population growth and investment in the area. Word was out that the car club was going to be in town on Sunday and a number of interested local car lovers were seen wandering around taking photos and chatting to members / owners. Cool. Lunch was fine home-style cooking of soup, roasts and dessert, leisurely served so that we could enjoy some of the local wines. Looks like our Social Director Michael (left) may have sampled just a little too heavily! What is he doing on that toy train engine???

The 'new' Turbo went well on the day. A light rattle from the glove box area needs to be attended to but otherwise, particularly in the more spirited run from Maldon to Maryborough, the car drove superbly.

A great day was had by all and in the late afternoon chill we set off for home after another enjoyable PCV outing.

PCV Winton Sprint - Queens Birthday Weekend

The day dawned wet and cold as we queued for scrutineering. The drivers briefing informed us that the track was officially 'dry'. The Competition Director clearly has different eyes to the drivers as we looked out at a wet / damp two kilometre stretch of asphalt!

The first session was slippery, but the second was on a drying surface and most drivers (including me) recorded their best time of the day.

GT3 @ Winton June 2009 (Photo by NIKO)

When we broke for lunch, some smartie with a laptop and access to weather radar gleefully shared that in about half an hour the heavens would open. And he was right. It bucketed down just before the first group of cars were due out after lunch. Some were scared off, others bravely went out and could be seen creating bow waves on a couple of the corners where water was rapidly pooling up. The rain did stop before I went out but I did tippy-toe around for a while. While my GT3 doesn't have traction control, it does have ABS which helped a lot in pulling the car down from speed in the conditions. A benefit the older 911 drivers didn't have.

While my outright speed wasn't anything special due to the conditions, a couple of car changes appeared to help my performance. The first was some additional air in the tyres given the cold and damp conditions, 36 'hot' all round, compared to my usual 32 psi. This seemed to generate a lot more rear wheel grip especially. The second change was running the fuel tank 'light' and topping up from a spare fuel can between sessions. I think the reduced weight helped, but the car seemed to understeer a bit on the slower corners, maybe reacting to a bit less weight over the front axle. Interesting.

Robin & the Boxster @ Winton June 2009 (Photo by NIKO)

The Boxster went around with Robin at the wheel. After a few sighting laps with an experienced club driver driving, she had a couple of sessions in the morning and got around safely and enjoyed the experience. A pretty good effort given the conditions and the fact that it was her first club track driving event. I was able to get another two sessions during the late afternoon in drying, but still damp conditions, especially if you strayed off the racing line. That made five sessions for the day, some 20 'timed' laps with another 10 warm up / cool down laps. The GT3 as always performed flawlessly. Thanks to the marshals and officials for keeping the meeting running in difficult conditions . I am looking forward to Phillip Island in June.

First impressions - 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo

We have been giving a lot of thought to our Porsche ownership experience of late and came up with an observation - 'Original Porsches Are Us'. While our 2003 Carrera 4S is a sensational looking beast with all of the Cargraphic options, with the safety of 4WD and the convenience of the Tiptronic transmission. But it's 'after market-ness' takes away some of the purity of the Porsche experience and frankly we don't need the auto anymore. So does anybody wish to buy a great C4S?

The question was then what to replace it with? Something original (un-molested in industry speak), something that maintains some value over time, something with that timeless 911 visage, something that is comfortable for both driver and passenger and something that has more than a modicum of performance. You can see where this is going, can't you. Yes, the title of this blog entry gave it away! To paraphrase a popular consumer product marketing slogan - 'Come to where the Porsche flavour is, come to Turbo country'.

So on May 26 I picked up our 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo with 52,000 documented kilometres on the clock. Some 118 examples of the 993 Turbo arrived in the country overall and this is an original Hamilton's Melbourne delivery, one of only 14 Turbos delivered in Australia in 1997. Metallic black (schwarz) over slate grey, with leather sports seats, and stainless steel exhaust tips, door sills in steel with model insignia, grey/silver rimmed instruments and carbon fibre gear lever / hand brake accents were added as factory options.

Apart from the very brief test drive, I had never driven a 993 series 911 before. Impressions? After the 996, getting back into a 993 is like stepping back in time, mostly in a good way. It is a physically smaller vehicle in all dimensions and all the better for it. You tend to sit very upright behind a non-adjustable steering wheel. But visibility is outstanding all round and especially out of the huge near vertical windscreen which appears a lot closer to you than in a 996. The quality of materials used on the interior has an air of bespoke quality and an indestructible feel quite different to the more modern 996/7. The dials and instrumentation are almost jewel-like and I have found myself sitting stationary in the car just staring at the dials.......... I may also have been staring trying to find some ancillary switch gear as the ergonomics of the cabin layout perhaps don't match the quality of the components. Some might call it character..... The optional sports seats are outrageously comfortable.

The more compact dimensions are obvious externally as well. It just looks smaller and more tightly drawn. The view from the rear is quite stunning. Overall, it is just a classically timeless shape IMHO.

After some 350 kilometres or so of city and country driving my initial impressions are extremely positive. It does feel a generation older to drive than the C4S or the GT3. The steering and brakes especially feel a little less progressive and heavier with less linear power assistance. For road feel and directionality however, the steering / chassis combination is superb. Allied with the suspension, the car points and tracks magnificently (no tram lining despite the wide rubber) and with the 4WD grip it is a very, very potent touring car. The car does 'crash' over some surface irregularities, feeling a bit agricultural at times to be honest, but it never deviates from the chosen line. The clutch is feather light, thanks to hydraulic assistance of some kind, and the gear change is slightly long, just a tad rubbery but light with a very well defined gate / pattern which makes gear changing painless and enjoyable. After 75 minutes of stop / start traffic neither the car, nor I, were ruffled. Apart from being off set and a bit cramped in the foot well, I have found no issues with the floor-hinged pedals.

While some of the above doesn't sound overly glowing, the overall feeling behind the wheel is one of purity of purpose. And that purpose is principally driven (pardon the pun) by the engine. So quiet, so unstressed but so effortless and seamless in it's power delivery. And the quicker you go, the more the car 'comes' to you. The steering lightens a touch, the brakes feel meatier when retarding from greater speed, the chassis remains totally unfussed and you just go. And go, and go. Now, I am sure that the 996/7 Turbos would do the same thing, certainly quicker, more clinically and more safely with additional driver aids, more airbags etc, but they wouldn't match the sense of theatre and occasion that the 993 series delivers in bucket loads. A real drivers touring car.

Is there anything not to like? Well, the immobiliser is a bit fussy and takes some getting used to, the black paint won't like our dusty country lane environment much, the large non-adjustable, airbag-equipped steering wheel is hardly a thing of beauty, the windscreen wipers action and 'at rest' position don't do the driver any favours, the HVAC system is from the last century (but the demister is outstanding), use the available performance and the fuel consumption is devastating (doh!), and the life of the rear tyres might be scarily short (doh +1!). Nothing too serious then!

The car was purchased from Rob Raymer of RSR Garage in Richmond. His attitude and professionalism from initial contact, through pre-purchase inspection to final delivery made the purchase of an expensive, high performance vehicle both a comforting and enjoyable experience. We would strongly recommend Rob for your next used Porsche purchase!

Ah, with much classic 911 Turbo motoring ahead of us, it is indeed a fortunate life.

Porsche Club Regularity

Just back home after a very interesting weekend competing at the fantastic Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit.

The Island-Meister! (Photo by Robin Humphries)

The Porsche Club of Victoria were fortunate to be able to get a competition slot at the Shannons GT Nationals event at Phillip Island this weekend to conduct a regularity event. Which simply means you are competing against an average lap time which you believe you can stick to, over 30 minutes, with some 35 other cars (some faster, some slower) on the track at the same time. Yep, I agree, it is a bit of a lottery but sounds like fun anyway. But dear readers it gets worse. Saturday practice was cool and somewhat drying after the usual island weather changes, so you commit to a time based on those conditions. Sadly, Sunday morning it was yisping down. Hasty last minute lap time forecast changes and the drivers nervously lined up to tackle the fastest track in Australia. In the wet!

Race day in the wet (Photo by Robin Humphries)

The good news is that I am writing this report therefore survived the experience and managed a top ten finish (a lottery result, not a test of skill). With intermittent rain, followed by a little bright sunshine & glare and the spray off the wet track, made the conditions challenging and I didn't seem to get much heat in the tyres to get any sort of grip so I was just tippy-toeing around. It was 'fun' with the absolute number of cars not being such a problem as they were well spread out around the approximately 4.45 kilometre circuit. And almost all drivers were well behaved..........

As for the rest of the events, other vehicles on the card for the GT Nationals weekend meeting included Porsche GT3 Challenge, GT cars (Lambos, Ferraris, Vipers, Aston Martins), Formula 3 open wheelers and various Holden and Falcon touring cars. Lots of great cars, excellent drivers and hard working teams. And, visibly, significant amounts of money being poured into the national economy. A motorsport led recovery perhaps........

Some of the fine Porsche Regularity Vehicles

Thanks to the organisers, officials, flag marshalls and support folks who make these events happen. Thanks also to Porsche Cars Australia for their hospitality and the constant availability of strong hot coffee in the tent!

The Porsche Hospitality Tent, Phillip Island

Photo Shoots Galore (edited from The Shutter Blog)

Photo buddies
In addition to joining the local camera club, I have also been fortunate to spend some time with James 'Jimmy' Cunningham, a professional photographer, and with Julie Mason and Rod Prior, a couple of keen & talented 'amateurs', who have all helped my technique, knowledge and confidence tremendously. Thanks for sharing!

Jimmy Cunningham

Julie Mason and Rod Prior

GT3 Club Lunch
At a recent car club lunch, Linley arranged Jimmy of James Cunningham Photography to come over and do a 'professional shoot' with our cars. Wow. Some seriously great shots were taken by Jimmy. Plenty of gear + Plenty of talent = Excellence!

GT3's (Photo by Jimmy Cunningham 2009)

One from Me

Greg, Linley & Chris / Boys & Their Toys (Photo by Julie Mason 2009)

One more from me : A little pixel manipulation

Car club drive to Helena's at Parnassus
The Porsche Club went on a drive to a winery restaurant for lunch a couple of hours out of town recently.

Linley, Greg, Chris & Maurie at Helenas (Photo by Julie Mason 2009)

A historical line-up of Porsche heritage vehicles were gathered up for a photo op. The middle car, a 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS is about the most sought after car ever made by the famous marque. It was a thrill to see it and photograph it. And the owner was only too willing to show it off.

19?? VW Beetle,1973 Carrera RS 2.7, 2000 911 GT3

PCV Tassie Tour - March 2009

We are just back from a six day driving tour of northern Tasmania with 40 odd, like minded souls in 23 cars from the Porsche Club.

It started with an overnight sea journey on the Tasmanian Ferry across Bass Strait. A first for us and also the Boxster! After some initial lumpiness at sea, a nice dinner and Tassie Riesling was had before we retired to our cabin and rested well for the early arrival in Devonport. A brisk drive across the north via a Raspberry Farm (breakfast) and a seaside resort (lunch) we arrived at the breathtaking Freycinet Peninsula for a two-night stay at the famous Freycinet Lodge at Coles Bay. Dinner in the evening was a 'formal' dinner in a private room at the lodge. All fairly tired, we retired (reasonably) early. Well, most did.

Wineglass Bay

Next morning was 'free' with a strong recommendation to walk up to the Wineglass Bay Lookout. I had packed most of my camera gear expressly for this purpose so with camera, battery packs, lenses and tripod, I set off on the trek up the hill. The summary will record that I made it while the longer version may indicate that I struggled on the 'climb', and needed various 'sherpas' to get my kit to the 'summit'. Once there along with lots of children and some octogenarians (!), the views and the pictures were spectacular. The walk down seemed easier.........

Shoutten Island

The afternoon consisted of a boat tour around Coles Bay and out to the Tasman Sea to explore various coves, caves and spectacular volcanic outcrops. Afternoon tea was spent in Wineglass Bay as the boat skipper shucked Coles Bay oysters to be washed down with a local 'sparkling' wine. From the queue of folks chasing the oyster tray and the wine server, they were both well received! But Crew Member of the Day was 'Rastus', a dolphin spotting dog who would do strange and remarkable things when he sensed sea life was nearby. And he slept the rest of the time!


Dinner that evening was a BBQ on the deck at the Lodge overlooking Coles Bay. An excellent spread IMHO. I learnt on this trip that Blue Eye (or trevalla, or Blue Eyed Cod) is a fantastic eating fish.

Next we were off to Launceston via a couple of Targa Tasmania stages and arriving at Symmons Plains Raceway for a tasty BBQ lunch followed by 'open' track time at Tasmania's premier motor racing circuit. What great fun, whipping the little Boxster around and trying to keep up with it's bigger, stronger 911 (and Cayman) brethren. I was seriously surprised at how well it went only to be let down by the ancien pilote who couldn't get some braking marks and corners correct. Even better was Robin being able to share the car and experience some lap time in the company of other more experienced female club drivers. This enhanced her comfort level and subsequent enjoyment of her track time.

That evening was an Italian dinner at the Launceston Club Villas which included a charity auction. Having started the 'evening' in the late afternoon in the bar watching the Grand Prix, I am reliably informed that the rest of the evening was excellent..........

I can't report on the quality of breakfast (!) before we set off to the town of Beaconsfield where an old-fashioned morning tea in the church hall awaited us. I was informed that the local ovens were fired up at 4AM to create the cakes, scones, cakes, sandwiches, quiches and pastries. Thanks ladies! After this stop, we were off for some spirited driving on more Targa stages. I was asked if I wanted to be in the 'fast' group or the 'slow' group. My new found sense of maturity and responsibility kicked in and I 'volunteered' for the 'slow' group. Slower than the speed of sound comes to mind on a couple of straights........

The Conga Line

The final stop for the day was Rosevaars wine tasting in the Tamar Valley. The quality of the wines (which was excellent) paled into insignificance compared to the quality of the oratory of 'Richard' who led the wine tasting and was most effusive, ebullient and exuberant regarding the taste and quality of the wine from his establishment. We then adjourned for a tasty grill of salmon, quail, prosciutto and smoked pork. The associated potatoes, salads and breads were of a particularly high standard.

After an easy drive back to town, the evening was 'free' and four of us struggled to the Launceston Casino for a buffet dinner at 6PM, and were subsequently tucked up in bed in readiness for the next day at 8.30PM!

The next morning we checked out again and queued in formation, ready to sprint off to our luncheon stop at Barnbougle Dunes Golf Club. This wind-swept course is rated in Australia's Top Ten and the World Top 50 golf courses. As rated by masochists it appeared to me! A most pleasant buffet was followed by closing speeches before returning to the Devonport Ferry Terminal again via a couple of Targa Tasmania stages.

What a fabulous tour. Great roads, great company and well led by our Tour Director, Michael Bailey. By somebody's reckoning he made mistakes every day but getting 99% of stuff right, 99% of the time seemed a damn fine effort to me. And he kept his dignity and good humour. Well he mostly did. Nearly. Thanks Michael, well done sir!

After the event, one does look back and count the cost and check the value. It met my criteria for high class entertainment at a fair price. But that pales into insignificance at the potential cost of these events when you look around at the vehicles on display - pristine 993S's, mid 80's 911 Speedsters, 997 Turbos, refurbished early 911s, original 911 930 Turbo's and apologies to all whose pride and joys I have omitted. They are all worthy. I think the actual medical term is upgraditis. It is one of the attributes that make the Porsche marque so engaging and so enjoyable!

Recent Porsche Outings

After a very disappointing (and unreported) outing in the GT3 at Phillip Island, I went in to my shell and seriously questioned if I wanted to play motor racing, and / or whether I had the requisite talent and cajones.......... Without addressing the last question directly, I decided that another injection of skill wouldn't hurt the ultimate decision-making process.

So I enrolled in the John Bowe Advanced Driving Course scheduled at Winton Raceway in mid March. One of my better ideas I must say. The secrets of Winton were always a mystery to me and my track times there were usually timed with a sun dial......... So after a little walking of the corners and some line and gear recommendations I was on course feeling better. That was until my instructor for the day got to sample my talents. Within three laps (or half and hour????) he indicated that we should return to the pits for a 'chat'. Usually he writes his comments on small library cards but I noticed he took out an A3 pad for me! Shame prevents me listing his 'remarks' verbatim here but needless to say that I had some 'opportunities for improvement'.

Having timed my early laps, I am pleased to report that my best lap time improved some six seconds on the day and I thought there was more to come when the driver got a bit tired late in the day.

Many thanks to the John Bowe team and in particular to my instructor, Dean Sammut for his courage (!) and clear guidance and encouragement throughout the day.

The GT3 and hard working Pit Crew at Winton!

I highly recommend these courses for all wanting to improve their lap times but also to those wishing understand their vehicle better and be generally more skilful road drivers. From what I have seen, Victoria can't have too many of those.

My subsequent outing was at Haunted Hills, a relatively new circuit an hour and a half outside of Melbourne. About 1.5 km around it has challenging uphill and downhill sections, with blind crests and a very smooth fast surface. We had seven runs for the day. Most enjoyable.

The previous week's training helped my technique and confidence levels immensely and my times were at least respectable. An excellent next step.