A crackling sound comes from the driver’s door pocket. A walkie-talkie rattling around in there begins barking instructions. “Let the car run wide for a second or two. Now let it wash off some speed and then turn in again gently, aiming for the second apex.” It crackles again, with driving instructor Ian Dyk annotating the track: “Now gently feed in the power, unwind the wheel, and let the car run right to the kerb. Good job.”
There’s a snarl and pop from the Audi RS 7’s hot exhaust as the rev limiter is tickled coming out of turn two at Victoria’s Phillip Island Circuit. Tap the right paddle, the car begins pulling again and slingshots down the short straight, building speed at an alarming rate. Thankfully, the rain has cleared for the afternoon session, with the track playing host to a series of 560-bhp V8-powered monsters. Sure, it’s fun—no need to check the pulse to confirm that—but the real reason for the day’s proceedings is to finely hone our driving ability.
Audi has taken over Phillip Island for one of its Driving Experience courses, a series of track-based confidence-building exercises which not only improve your skills on track but also your overall approach to driving.
There are four tiers (Advanced, Performance, Sportscar, and Race), and today we’re tackling the second tier, the Performance Driving Experience. To get to this level, you have to have first passed the Advanced Driving Experience, which teaches and demonstrates understeer and oversteer behaviours, track etiquette, ABS braking, and obstacle avoidance. It’s designed primarily to teach car control away from the pressure-cooker situation of daily traffic. If you’re able to identify a problem before it happens, you can deal with it with a sound mind, not a panicked one.