Monday, December 3, 2007

Audi Driving Experience (I)

Thought I'd kick off by just summarizing how the half-day was organized and then move onto my thoughts on specific cars in the next couple of days. OK with everyone? Good. Then let's begin.

Audi runs these sessions around the country, starting in Miami in July and ending in San Diego next week. From what I could see, they just did around 5 days in Sonoma using the facilities at Infineon Raceway.

Two groups run roughly half an hour apart, fifteen students in each, two courses in the morning and two in the afternoon.

The morning starts with a half-hour briefing on the basics of tyre contact patches, weight transfer and grip circles. Nothing unique here but it was done with a new spin: justifying why Quattro provides more grip, in certain circumstances, than either front- or rear-wheel drive.

Class over, it's off to the apron for the basics: turning while braking under ABS and the high-speed lane change. Again, if you have ever done any one of these driving courses before you'll be familiar with this stuff. Cars used for these exercises were A6's.

Next up, there were timed runs around an autocross course in V6 Audi TT Tiptronics with the fastest time in any group of 15 qualifying for some unspecified prize.

From there it's onto the race circuit itself for lead-follow laps in the RS4 and the R8. (Lead-follow means the instructor drives the first car and asks cars two and three to follow the line, braking, turn points, etc.)

The actual sequence of who-does-what-when varied but everyone did the full set and seat time was reasonable given the price ($595, in case you are curious).

We started at 9 am and wrapped up just after 12:30 pm. Breakfast and lunch were thrown in but no other free goodies; I was hoping for a t-shirt at least, but no such luck!

Overall, very well organized and at Infineon they had a custom suite set up with flat screen TVs and B&O sound systems. Nice touch! Plenty of brochures, too, just in case you brought your cheque book ....


bayarearunner said...

in the lead-follow scenario -- did you get to drive the R8 or just follow one in a RS4?

J said...

Sorry, wasn't clear: two sessions, one was in the R8 and one in the RS4. You drive the R8 following an instructor who is also in an R8. Ditto the RS4: instructor drives one and you follow his lead in another.

(And apologies to I for posting this reply on his - utterly unrelated - blog first by mistake!)

bayarearunner said...

so how was the R8?! or is that the subject of a future posting :)

J said...

Oh yes - will try and post on that tonight. Meanwhile, here's a teaser: I want one!