Les­son from Audi leg­end

Albany Extra - - Motoring - Ewan Kennedy

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 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 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.

Pic­tures: Chris Benny

Tom Kris­tensen at­tended the lat­est Audi driv­ing day.

An Audi on a skid pan.

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