The smell of burnt rubber hung heavily in the air as we stepped out of our cars in the Dubai Autodrome test arena. It has kind of redefined the composition of the troposphere out here. But even as I instinctively narrowed my nostrils, there was an adrenaline rush that it stimulated within me.
Earlier that morning, a quick briefing introduced a bunch of enthusiastic drivers to the day’s agenda and the exciting prospect of thrashing about two class-leading machines in the racers’ paradise. But first, we had to get through the more mundane but most useful lessons on driving posture and steering position. The cross band grip would perhaps take a while for those used to the 10-10 position or the eager-beaver bunny-rabbit styles of driving. Even more of a ‘compromise’ for those flaunting that ‘dishwasher technique’ – the admirably casual style of letting the steering roll against your open palm! However, everyone seemed to see reason in the two-spoke grip’s convenience in negotiating 180º turns rather effortlessly.
Quickly through that bit, we proceeded to take positions in the row of Audi Q5s waiting in line for its eager drivers. The instructors James and Paul, along with Bernice who makes sure the day runs smooth, guided us through the programme: defining the limits of how adventurous we were to get that day.
On the tarmac
First, we were to “practise” how to avert accidents by slamming the brakes or swerving away in a surprisingly solid Q5. In the Audi TT drive that followed, things got still better. The driver was to avoid an imaginary obstacle by sharply turning the car in to the next lane (again, imaginary) with and without brakes! The mere prospect of burning rubber and tearing tyres with reckless swerving sounded pretty – admit it, even as we curse those maniacs on the road, haven’t we all secretly wanted to behave like one? Here was your chance, in the safety of the Autodrome and with the blessings of trained instructors!
The last slalom was where the skills were put to the ultimate test – actually more of a fun thing meant to inspire, for getting good at this stuff would take time and practice. But at least, one knows one’s options in a tough spot and has the “done that in a lab” sort of advantage! What if a couple of times, the experience also directs your attention to how the Quattro four-wheel drive of an Audi and its efficient ABS brakes work to your advantage in a tricky situation – well, even veterans can’t help showing off a bit before a willing audience!
The Audi Advanced experience expects a reasonable exposure to driving and the heart to keep your poise. But there were recent licensees as well, like Mayalita, the only female candidate in the team of nine. She had a great time doing something that she never dreamt of getting a chance to – and from what I could gather from her slalom stunt, this girl had a lot of grit and would go on to perfect the technique she just acquired! It’s a good refresher and a fun outing for the seasoned as well. Like Christopher said, “I have always been a good driver.” But he sure has become a better one now on a half-day out after The Audi Experience.
For details of the Audi Drive Experience, visit audidriving.net and to enroll, you may contact Bernice at firstname.lastname@example.org