Lesson from Audi legend
In the world of ultra-long distance motor racing, Denmark’s Tom Kristensen is a legend. Driving in the famed LeMans 24-hour — think 41⁄2 Bathurst 1000s back-to-back — Kristensen has finished 15 times, and been on the podium 15 times.
For nine of these races he and his teammates were on the top spot of the podium.
In an eerie similarity to Kristensen’s nine LeMans wins, Australian racing legend Peter Brock won nine Bathurst victories.
Despite further attempts, neither of these brilliant drivers managed to get into double figures.
Seven of Kristensen’s victories were in Audis, so the German carmaker invited the retired driver to Australia to take part in the latest version of the Audi Sport Driving Experiences program.
It was held at the new Bend Motorsport Park near Tailem Bend about 100km south-east of Adelaide.
This is the first new dedicated circuit in Australia for almost 20 years and is an impressive undertaking, with a main circuit second only to the Nurburgring in length.
In a previous life, this area housed Mitsubishi’s proving ground before the company stopped making cars in Australia.
The Audi Sport Driving Experience is a serious sweating-in-thedriving Tom Kristensen attended the latest Audi driving day.
seat event run worldwide.
They are always held away from public roads and generally at racetracks, often using a skidpan to learn how to get a car out of shape and regain control again.
There’s also a strong serving of on-track driving.
This is just one of many Audi high-performance events covering everything from improving yourself as a daily driver to full-on amateur racing in Audi R8 racing machines, with various intermediate steps. See audidrivingexpe rience.com.au for details.
A number of Australian motoring journalists were invited to the latest of many Audi driving events that have been run in this country Pictures: Chris Benny
over the years. The Sport Experience includes emergency manoeuvres, theory and practice of safe high-speed handling, and demonstrations of the abilities of Audi’s quattro four-wheel-drive system.
Interestingly, though Audi makes a big thing about its quattro system, we were also able to drive the new Audi R8 rear-wheel-drive model to check the difference between them and the quattro when driven to extremes on drifting exercises.
While the differences are noticeable, you really only feel them if the sports machines are going hard.
We then did some laps of The Bend, surely one of the most complex layouts anywhere.
The laps were initially done oneon-one behind a lead car to learn the best braking, turn-in, apex and acceleration points, then we were allowed to do some on our own.
However, there was no lap timing and no racing. That doesn’t come until you’re several steps further up the Audi driver training ladder.
To finish the day, there was some intense competition between journos in a timed motorkhana.
It was intense not only because we are competitive by nature, but also because the top three scored a high-speed ride on the track with Kristensen at the wheel.
Sadly, I missed out.
An Audi on a skid pan.