Did you ever sit in your high school math class, look at the teacher and think -”what the hell does this person know?”
Sure, they might have a handle on Pythagoras’ Theorem, but what real world experience has this dude had after finishing high school and heading directly to teacher’s college?
As we go through life the more motivated and inquisitive among us have an endless thirst for learning, but we also have the luxury of sourcing the best teachers. Sometimes the inability to find the right “guru” can actually paralyse our motivation, but that is not an issue when you turn up for the Porsche Track Experience.
All five levels of the Porsche driving program in Australia are headed by one of the best in the business, and 1988 Bathurst 1000 winner, Tomas Mezera.
You don’t have to be a Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winner to be Australia’s best instructor, but you would have to agree that having such a trophy in your cabinet would not be a disadvantage.
Mezera has built a talented team of instructors around him and you soon discover he is not the only one with a Bathurst 1000 trophy when 2017 winner and deputy chief instructor Luke Youlden walks in the room.
Ironically, Steve Owen, who finished second at Bathurst twice, heads the rest of the instruction crew which includes familiar names like Steven Johnson, Dean Canto, Chris Pither and Scott Jacob and some lesser known, but no less competent, staff including Daniel Jilesen and Daniel Pappas.
Mezera is one of the straightest shooters in the business and the former Czech’s banter through the day is almost more entertaining than the varied skill levels of the participants.
“These guys have done all the crashing for you,” jokes Mezera, as he points towards his trusted team.
“They know what the consequences can be when you over step the limit so listen to what they have to say.“
The Porsche Track Experience program has been on hold through the COVID-19 pandemic, but its Queensland base means that it has managed to get back up and running again in the last couple of weeks. The recommencement of training does however come with its changes, including the enforcement of social distancing and the continual use of hand sanitiser and face masks.
If there is any bonus to this, it is that the class sizes are smaller, not great for Porsche’s profit margin, but good for a little more one on one interaction.
The Porsche program consists of five levels and starts with Precision (Level 1) which looks at all the basics, through to GT3 Cup (Level 5) which has participants driving fully-fledged GT3 Cup race car. Each course needs to be completed before you are considered for the next.
The first three levels used to be held at the RACQ Mobility Centre at Mt Cotton, halfway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, but the evolution of the performance of the Porsche range has meant that levels three through five are now hosted at Queensland Raceway
Speedcafe.com was invited to participate in the most recent Level 3 day which was split in half.
The day opened with a meeting at Mt Cotton and a 30-minute road trip to QR before three activities on different parts of the Queensland Raceway layout.
The first involved high-speed runs down the mainstraight before braking and turning into turn one.
The second involved high-speed runs and braking into the double-apex turn three and the final included tackling a slalom course of witches hats in the centre section of the track, which is the only “timed” activity of the day.
After a nicely-catered, but COVID-19 strict lunch break, you are let loose on the QR sprint course for three-lap fast sessions with instructors who sit beside you providing full instruction through a two-way helmet system.
If you thought you earned your money in your daily grind, spare a thought for this group who have to sit in the passenger’s seat with complete strangers heading into turn one at 200kph+ – hoping they have applied the right amount of pressure to the brake pedal.
I have the feeling that tipping into The Chase on Conrod Straight at Bathurst at 300kph+ would be a little less stressful
“We have had a couple of complaints over the years about instructors grabbing the steering wheel and helping them through certain corners,” said Mezera.
“Let me assure you, if the instructor grabs the wheel he is doing it for a reason.”
While there are fewer activities more fun than putting some Porsche and Michelin product to the test in a fast, but controlled, environment, the Level 3 course also doubles as a great testing ground for those in the market for a new bit of German-engineered kit.
The initial three activities for the day are conducted across the Porsche range and the afternoon has you doing no less than three high-speed laps in eight different cars including a 911 Carrera, Carrera S, Carrera 4S and sensational race-bred GT3 RS. There was also a standard Boxster and Boxster GTS, Cayman S and GTS.
Earlier in the day we also had the chance to drive a Macan GTS and Panamera GTS.
If you time it right, you can do back-to-back comparisons and get a real feel for the differences in each model’s variant. For the record, I believe the 911 Carrera S is the best “bang for buck” rig in the fleet.
Like the vehicles themselves, the Porsche Track Experiences don’t come cheap, but likewise, you get what you pay for. Level one starts at $1595 while Level 5 is $6820.
Click Here for more information on the Porsche Track Experience.