THE realisation that you have just lost control of a Porsche 911 Carrera and are now simply a passenger holding a steering wheel in what seems like the world’s longest spin would usually be a perfect time to panic.
But in reality, at least my reality, there was a calm excitement. No internal (or external) screaming and expletives, no reflexive muscle clenching and whitening of knuckles, and no deep churning inside my stomach at the thought of one of Germany’s finest feats of engineering lying beat and broken.
Spinning was all part of the plan.
Okay, so maybe not my plan. But it was part of the plan of racing veteran and Porsche instructor Tomas Mezera. The Bathurst 1000 winner runs the Porsche Sport Driving School at the Mount Cotton Driving Centre outside of Brisbane, and had informed me, with no caveats, that I was going to lose control of some of Stuttgart’s finest vehicles.
Spinning a Porsche in most situations would be an unenviable situation, but not today. I was being put through the brand’s entry-level drive experience, meaning closed courses, skid pans, and controlled environments. There was to be no calamity today.
That excitement I felt came from the tutelage being offered by some of the best racing talent in the country; the likes of Alex Davison, Steven Johnson and Steve Owen. If you don’t live and breathe motorsport, know that those names have pedigree, and those men have serious talent.
The first stop of the day was Mount Cotton’s skid pan, a huge concrete expanse doused with a healthy offering of water, and a further dosage of slick diesel.
That makes sliding 718 Cayman and 911 Carrera a trial of your finesse, as the slightest inputs are amplified on the slipperier-than-ice surface. The mid-engined Cayman and rear-engined 911 require drastically different driving techniques.
Where the Carrera will kick its rear askew with a brush of the throttle and stay there with gentle dabs of the pedal, the Cayman prefers to understeer initially. But put a solid boot into it, and it arrives at the opposite lock-stop with vigour. You are soon rewarded with large four-wheel drifts with your aggression is balanced just so.
The opportunity to slide the pair in a controlled environment is invaluable, and while I won’t be using that skill directly on the public road, the lesson in car control could prove critical in avoiding misfortune under extenuating circumstances.
But the skid pan wasn’t the only destination on our itinerary. During the day-long experience we put the stoppers of a Panamera 4S, 718 Boxster, and 911 Carrera Cabriolet to the test under emergency braking and lane-change situations, before taking the Boxster, Carrera and a Macan Turbo through a soaking gymkhana course. As a note, don’t discount Porsche’s baby SUV in a dynamic showdown. It was as capable as its sports car siblings in the challenging conditions.
The day’s learning was concluded on a closed road loop behind the wheels of a Carrera 4S, Cayman S, and Boxster S. Here we were taught the ins-and outs of racing lines, throttle application, and performance braking. No matter how good you think you are, there is always room for improvement. A hot lap alongside the professionals in a screaming and wailing GT3 RS will nail that message home.
Best of all the Porsche Sport Driving School isn’t the ultra-exclusive, invite-only club you may imagine. If you are willing to cough up the cash ($1,485) you can go and enjoy one of the best money-can-buy automotive experiences in Oz.
Oh, and when you spin, don’t panic, enjoy the excitement.