Ian Crawford | May 3, 2012 | 5 Comments

Audi Australia has today launched its five-tier race-track focussed Audi Drive Experience program, following a media presentation at Phillip Island circuit yesterday.

It puts participants at up to full noise behind the wheel of Audi’s sporting cars (even, depending upon the level of the program, the R8 V10 and the sensational R8 LMS GT3 race car), on some of Australia’s best racetracks with a full day of professional tuition from leading race drivers.

After 15 years as an invitation-only dealer-based program, the Audi Drive Experience is now open to the Australian public with the first event commencing July 2012.

And how’s this for a mouth-watering motoring recipe?

  • Invest $6.8 million in a four-wheeled smorgasbord of 40 Audi sports models that includes four sizzling V10 R8s and access to two brain-snapping R8 LMS race cars;
  • Appoint race driver and former Top Gear Australia presenter Steve Pizzati as chief instructor, as well as 11 other experienced race drivers and instructors;
  • Send them to Austria for an intensive ‘train-the-trainers’ course;
  • Develop a five-tier graduated program from advanced to serious race-car instruction; and,
  • Book five of Australia’s finest race tracks plus Queensland’s Mt Cotton driver-training centre and the world-class Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground on New Zealand’s south island as venues for the program.

While the Audi Drive Experience is not new to Australia, the new program takes it to a whole new level.

Audi owners, prospects and the general public can now join in the track-day fun - if they’ve got some pocket money to spend.

Mercedes-Benz, BMW, FPV and Porsche (among others) run drive days for various levels of seriousness, but Audi Australia believes its new course program tops them all.

The upgraded five-level Audi Australia program kicks off with what Audi calls its $750 full-day Advanced Driving Experience.

It includes a slalom course, understeer and oversteer identification, high-speed emergency braking with obstacle avoidance and plenty of instruction designed to improve participants’ overall driving ability, accident avoidance and understanding of how cars behave under various conditions.

Move up a step and things become more serious. Here, participants get their hands on the stove-hot S and RS model range during the Performance Driving Experience.

This full-day $1190 course adds motorkhana and racetrack exercises.

Climb another rung on the program ladder and for $2900 for the day, the Sportscar Experience takes things to an exhilaratingly higher level.

This program has participants strapped in behind the wheels of the superb RS 5 and R8 sportscars for a day of high-performance racetrack driving.

Chief instructor Steve Pizzati; “We set out to develop the leading drive experience without compromise.”
Chief instructor Steve Pizzati; “We set out to develop the leading drive experience without compromise.”

To ensure maximum training, safety and enjoyment, it’s one-on-one personal instruction.

And if all of this still leaves you wanting more, $5990 will buy a day that motoring enthusiasts can only dream about.

The pinnacle of the new program is the Audi Race Experience.

For this program, after they have sampled the TT RS and the R8 V10, a handful of well-heeled serious enthusiasts will get to pilot the sensational 5.2litre 368kW V10 R8 LMS GT3 race version.

The same car in fact that won the past two Bathurst 12-hour races. As Steve Pizzati said, “Driving the R8 LMS GT3 is a genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

During the day-long program, participants will also receive the same dietary and nutritional information given to professional drivers as they prepare for serious business out on the racetrack.

If ice-driving is more your thing than flying around race tracks, the Audi Ice Experience draws on the original Drive Experience concept that first saw light of day in Germany more than three decades ago.

Designed specifically to demonstrate and explore the benefits of Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel-drive system, the two-day Ice Experience uses the world-class Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground in New Zealand.

For $5700, participants will get to test their skills on a low-grip icy surface.

Courses are available nationally; Audi intends to run 35 track days in its first year. Me? I’ve already started saving for the Race Experience.

Having done half-a-dozen hot laps at the wheel of the R8 V10, I can only imagine what a sensation the LMS must be.

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