The express way to driving an Audi
By Daniel Thimmayya - SRIPERUMBUDUR
20th October 2012 11:35 AM
Just the prospect of driving something that looks like an Audi R8 V10 can be daunting. Sleek, white, aerodynamic, fast and extremely expensive — you know that it’s well above your pay grade when something has that much allure. And yet, car-crazy folks and super car enthusiasts can actually be taught to drive the 5204 cc beast and actually throttle it on the Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC track), through ASE (Audi Sportscar Experience).
Coming back, a mild case of nerves jousted with a penchant to experience what the sports car was capable of, just as I slipped behind the wheel. “We’ll keep talking to you, just make sure you listen to us and everything will be fine,” says young city-based racer Aditya Patel, who has signed up to be an instructor for Audi.
Even as the vehicles pull out of the pits, Aditya in the lead car keeps up the radio chatter asking the ‘student’ racers to stay in line and maintain speed.
Preparation and training is half the job done in understanding how much a sports car can do, says Mark Allison, a veteran instructor from Johannesburg. As he puts us through the paces of veering the car through cones (to learn how to steer), most of us realise that between the automatic transmission and the technological assists (automatically shifting to neutral if you leave it in gear), it’s actually fairly easy to tackle ten turns on the Irungattukottai track using the R8. Doing it fast — now that’s in another league altogether.
Before we get to drive on the course though, Mark puts us through one last test — using ABS. “Most of you have heard about it, but I’m fairly certain none of you know how to use it,” he says. Helmeted heads nod is assent.
The exercise is scary — step on the gas till the vehicle roars to over 100 kmph (in about 4 seconds) and then slam the brakes and try not to hit any cones. After a few tries, multiple cones knocked over and Mark reaching exasperation point, we’re ready to do laps.
Following Mark’s grey Audi, we novice drivers are allowed to throttle and turn the powerful beast for three laps, with the instructor’s voice constantly coming in over the radio. “You’re turning too short,” he says to me, “Take the turn later and push for more speed,” he says, just as my speedometer reads 138 kmph. I’m thrilled till I realise that Mark is moving faster, while watching every car behind him, holding the radio in one hand and offering critique.
Pulling into the pits after two sessions, I ask Mark how we’d done considering there was rain and we’re learners, “Well,” drawls the man who has driven Mark Boucher once, “You didn’t crash any cars, so that’s pretty good in my book!” The ASE, which is on till October 21 at the MMSC track, is an ‘excellent opportunity for sports car enthusiasts who have always wanted to experience thrills on a race track,’ observes Michael Perschke, head of Audi India.
Priced at Rs 73,000 (plus tax), the experience is still a whole lot cheaper than paying Rs 1.7 crore and buying the vehicle!
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