Porsche Driving Experience Canada
Porsche Driving Experience Canada

Weekends: Porsche Driving Experience Canada

I cut my racing teeth driving mid-80’s Porsche 924S, 944S and 944 Turbo S sport coupes at Shannonville Motorsport Park Inc, 15km east of Belleville, Ontario way back in 1984. In other words, driving Porsche’s at speed on a racetrack is in my blood.

So imagine my excitement when receiving an invite to take a “test drive” of this year’s Porsche Driving Experience Canada at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. It might explain why I needed to take a break from riding shotgun for one of my automotive journalist colleagues during the morning session and try to settle my stomach. Racing is fun, being a passenger holding a camera and filming, a little less so. Vertigo is not just another great song by U2.

For our driving experience sessions, we had at our disposal two of Porsche’s finest 2-door sport coupes. First up is the all-new 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S (as tested: $103,960). It features a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine that produces 350 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 309 lb-ft of torque. Matched to a PDK transmission, my street racer can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 285 km/h.

The first test on our preview day is to successfully navigate a series of orange cones arranged in three unique patterns. We start with a short slalom, followed by a predetermined road course and end with precision braking in a clearly marked, shorter than expected, braking zone. Creep outside the box just a little or hit a cone and all is lost.

One my first pass, I navigate the slalom and road course precisely, but badly brake in the box and end up half a car length over the line. On lap two, my time improves and my braking is perfect, so much so the instructor has to double-check to make sure I didn’t cross the line. He nods his approval and my time stands.

Staying in the 718 Cayman S, I next tackle the high-speed braking in a corner test. Here we start from a stop, hit 80 km/h and punch the brakes as hard as we can while breaking through corner. It sounds easy, but the catch is you need to brake only when the instructor tells you to over the walkie-talkie. I push the accelerator, achieve 80 km/h and wait what seems to be an eternity before he yells out “brake!” On my first attempt, I once again deliver less than stellar results.

Speeds increase up to 100 km/h and after a few tries, my braking through the corner improves dramatically. The 718 Cayman S remains poised and I gain self-confidence in both the machine and the man pushing the brakes and steering. It is a true lesson in humility and understanding how to steer and brake at speed.

Track time at the facility allows us to switch up and get behind the wheel of a 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S coupe (as tested: $152,900). It highlights 420 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, 0-100 km/h in 4.3 seconds and achieves a top speed of 305 km/h. The chance to drive this highly-capable sport coupe on the Driver Development Track (DDT) at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is something I can’t wait to explore!

My driving partner takes the wheel to start and we spend the first five laps warming up the car and navigating the course in a lead-follow pattern. Five cars start out with the instructor in the lead and after each lap the first car pulls off to the right allowing the others to pass then jumps back in line. We continue on for another 5 laps of fun on the track and the instructor tells us to take another five, for a total of fifteen.

After this we pull into the pits and it’s my turn to take the wheel. I wish I could say I grabbed the wheel and hit the track for what was my most memorable time driving a Porsche 911 Carrera S, but it didn’t happen. This is where I needed to take a break and so I unwilling, but happily for my driving partner, passed the baton so he could enjoy another 15 hot laps in the 911. Surprise, I think he actually drove another 20+ laps and I watched from the comfy confines of the DDT lounge. The coffee was fantastic, so too the cherry Danish! Fortunately for me, no lap records were broken, so I still have that to look forward to down the road.

The Porsche Driving Experience is an excellent course for learning how to drive fast and brake hard in a controlled, race-proven environment with professional instructors teaching you advanced skills. Some of what you learn includes the following:

– Correct seating position, steering and vision control
– Effective braking
– Basic principles of the racing line
– Load-changing scenarios
– Oversteer and understeer
– Efficient use of all ESC systems
– Guided drives with driving style assessment

If that was all, it would almost be enough, but there is so much more to experience when you take the wheel and head out on the track. For Porsche drivers who want that extra challenge, there is no better way than to spend a day learning to become a better, faster and most importantly safer driver of an exotic sports car.

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Porsche Driving Experience Canada

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