By Waiyen Chu, Club President
Porsche Owners Driver Education – Gimili – May 19, 2015
For the past four or five years, region member Rick Dobel with generous assistance from Porsche Centre Winnipeg organizes driver education sessions once or twice a year based on availability of instructors.
The instructors, their cars and logistics are arranged through Jennifer Cooper from the Porsche Driving Experience arm of Porsche Canada and these sessions are open to Porsche owners and club members alike, over the years a fair amount of region members have enjoy them.
For those who have not had the pleasure of attending these sessions before (like I was) I just want to reassure you this is not about racing your friends on the track. The instructors are EXTREMELY accomplished, capable, experienced racers and/or teachers that simply would not let us get into any sort of trouble. Above all, the safety of the participants is of their primary concern. The drivers from Porsche Canada have been mentioned in previous editions of Red River Ramblings and they are Jonathan Urlin and Kees Nierop. The instructor team was augmented by Jeff McKague and Gerry Low. I had the pleasure of both riding with, and had my mistakes observed by 3 of the 4 drivers and they were all extremely helpful.
While all four instructors have extensive backgrounds in racing and/or training race drivers, I have to admit I certainly felt a bit of nervousness when Kees climbed into the passenger seat of my car to offer tips for improvement. When someone that has raced in the famed 24hrs of Le Mans and has won the 12hrs of Sebring tells you “You are accelerating too early” you somehow figured, yeah he probably knows a thing or two about driving and you graciously accept his advice. This is a phrase that a lot of people use casually but in this case I can comfortably use the statement that Kess has forgotten more about auto racing than I or any other novice can ever hope to learn in our lifetimes. What was truly a treat was after a couple of my jerky and uneven laps, Kess asked if I would like him to show me how to navigate the track by driving my car. I had no idea my car can be as quick or can perform as smoothly as when a professional is behind the wheel, I must admit I was a bit awestricken!
So back to the point I made in the beginning of the article, that I question my own driving abilities. I learned from the professionals that speed is achieved by driving smoothly and “seeing” the straightest line in the corners. Yeah I heard and read that before but one really has no idea what that means until one is on a closed track and is trying to execute what I have only previously read about. I noticed in my initial efforts I was pushing too hard, fighting the steering wheel and hitting my brakes too hard to keep my car on the track. Flat spotting one of my front tires was an expensive lesson to learn what not to do.
Another added treat was that I spent a good 5 to 10 laps right behind the 918 Spyder!!! Now that is one amazing machine but the only thought in my head as I was following it was “hmmm … if I happen to get too close and damage it, I will likely spend the rest of my life paying for the repairs”. Needless to say I gave it plenty of room.
Towards the end of the day in addition to having the instructors voices implanted in my brain with phrases like “that’s right, feed smoothly into the turn and again out of it, no sudden motions” or “match your acceleration with the steering wheel”, I think I was getting the hang of it and was lapping relatively smoothly … at least that’s what I choose to believe. What one can learn on a closed track translates into making us better drivers on the road. I do recommend for everyone to attend a future session if you get the chance. It is an experience you will not regret but be forewarned the it is addictive and I certainly plan on attending future occurrences of this fantastic event. Speaking of the next time this will be happening, Rick has arranged for Jonathan and Kess to make a return visit for August 24th and 25th for the normal 2 day duration as opposed to the 1 day event in May.
Congratulations to Rick Dobel for being crowned the new “King of Gimli” and to Paul Hepworth in capturing the b-side title (Crowned Prince of Gimli???) in the little friendly autocross-like competition held during a few of the breaks from lapping the track. In case you were wondering I ended in last place by virtue of not being able to follow the cones.
Finally I have to thank Rick for organizing the event. He claims he does it for selfish reasons; to enable him the chance to “play” on the track but I know all the drivers that took part are very grateful for his efforts. And of course special thanks to Braeden Mueller and the rest of the staff of Porsche Centre Winnipeg for their support and assistance in making it a civilized outing.
Porsche Centre Winnipeg Driving Experience – May 20, 2015
The day after the Driver Education day in Gimli, Porsche Centre Winnipeg held a Driving Experience event to introduce current and prospective owners of Porsche what their cars are capable of on the track. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to attend. Guess my bribes of food and desserts for the staff at PCW are paying off! I do have to once again thank Braeden Mueller and the staff of PCW for allowing me to have this experience by making me one of their guests.
Porsche Canada provided drivers Jonathan Urlin and Kees Nierop as lead drivers and also trucked in ten cars, five Cayman S’s and five 911 Carrera 4S’s so the twenty attendees were able experience the performances and differences of the two models. Both vehicles were equipped with the amazingly smooth shifting Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission so that novice drivers did not end up destroying the transmissions of these beautiful cars.
While there was not an opportunity to match the two vehicles in the slalom course the mid-engine Cayman S sliced through the cones effortlessly and weight transfer was steady and slight, the perfect demonstration of a well balanced car. I have a sneaking suspicion in that of the two models brought for the day, the Cayman S is the preferred vehicle in such an exercise.
The Carrera 4S was used to demonstrate the braking ability where we were told to accelerate as hard as we can in a stretch of the track and we would be told over the radio to brake hard and steer the car in either left or right of the obstacle in front of us. The first several times we tried is ended up hilarious results as the roar of the engine as we accelerated drowned out the radio telling us which direction to steer and we had to revert to hand signals. This exercise simulated an emergency stop situation of where a child or animal jumped into the street and if the driver is paying attention the braking system will allow one to steer clear of a potential accident.
Drivers were also given the chance to experience both models on the track. As a mid-engine owner I was extremely surprised by the stability of the Carerra 4S. The Cayman S was extremely fun to drive on the closed course but did require a little more effort and the driver had to pay a little bit more attention to the ensure smooth cornering while the all wheel drive and more horsepower the Carrera 4S made steering into and accelerating out of the corners almost effortless.
While the event was not meant to convince a driver to choose between the two platforms but to rather demonstrate the ability and technologies of the new cars, I have to admit I am leaning towards the C4S with PDK! I WAS perfectly happy with my current car but after a few laps in these wonderfully machines, it has certainly got me thinking I need something with all the technological improvements of the past decade.