At the pointy end

The ADE instructors continue to lead the field in motorsport categories across the country.

From V8 Supercars to Touring Car Masters and Formula cars – Audi driving experience instructors are right out in front.

19 November, 2019

When the team are not instructing at one of the ADE courses around the country, many of them are off competing at the highest levels

For anyone who’s taken part in an Audi Driving Experience (ADE) program, the calibre of the instructing staff would be well known. For those who are yet to experience one of these events – you are in for quite a ride, and one that will enhance not only your ability behind the wheel, but your enjoyment of driving in general.

The level of tuition at any ADE program is constantly singled out by participants as a highlight – and for good reason. Led by the irrepressible Steve Pizzati – himself a racing driver, engineer and motoring commentator – the ADE instructors represent an elite group who seriously know what they’re doing.

When the team are not instructing at one of the ADE courses around the country, many of them are lining up on a grid somewhere, nationally or internationally, and racing at the highest levels. We’ve touched on the prowess and success of the team in the past, but as another race season draws to a close, they’re at it again, stamping their authority on racing classes around the country, across the pond and overseas.

Steven Johnson sharing his knowledge at an ADE event at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Well known to ADE participants and race fans around the country, Steven Johnson was once again the man to beat in this year’s Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters. Driving his distinctive  1969 Ford Mustang Fastback, Steve took out his third straight Touring Car Masters Championship, consistently leading the field throughout the season and wrapping up the title at the recent Sandown weekend.

The man to beat since winning the championship in 2017 and again last year, Johnson makes it look easy and his laid back demeanour masks a fierce competitor.

Along with leading the championship for most of the season, he also managed to set the fastest ever Touring Car Masters lap of Mount Panorama during the Bathurst 1000 weekend. He won the first of the TCM races that weekend and set a stunning 2m15.84s lap time – eight-tenths quicker than his own personal best and a new record for the category at the most famous track in the country.

Steven Johnson was once again the man to beat in this year’s Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters

Jordan Love claims the 2019 Porsche Carrera Cup Championship.

This year, 20-year-old Jordan Love wrapped up the Porsche Carrera Cup Championship

A relative newcomer to the ADE ranks and its youngest member, Jordan Love, at just 20 years of age is already building an enviable reputation as one of Australian motorsport’s rising stars.

This year, he wrapped up the Porsche Carrera Cup Championship, producing a string of stunning drives through out the season.

Over the Bathurst 1000 weekend, he pulled off a second clean-sweep weekend in Porsche Carrera Cup for the season, winning all three races and putting the championship beyond any doubt.

“I joke that I have shoes older than he is,” says Pizzati who is obviously proud of the young champion.

“He’s acknowledged as one of the fastest in the country in racing circles, and yet ironically, while he can teach at our ADE events on racetracks, given his age, he’s isn’t allowed to drive one of our Audi RS models on the road yet!”

Despite his tender age, Love has been marking his mark for years, winning the Western Australian Junior State karting championship from 2010 to 2014, before going on to become Formula BMW Asia Champion in 2015, finish third in Formula Ford 2016 and then winning the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge in 2017.

Luke Youlden gives ADE participants track advice at Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit.

Another man very much accustomed to success at the highest levels is Luke Youlden. In 2017, Youlden achieved the pinnacle of Australian motorsport success, when he and David Reynolds ‘conquered the Mountain’ and won the Bathurst 1000.

Indeed, the duo looked set to repeat the feat the following year, leading the field for much of the race, before one of those cruel quirks of motorsport ended that year’s campaign.

This year, Youlden was once again right in the thick of it at Bathurst, coming back from a heavy crash during practice to ultimately finish fifth after a spirited drive to the checkered flag.

In the very next round, at the Gold Coast 600, Youlden and teammate, David Reynolds, were again competitive from the outset on the tight street circuit. In a close finish, it was another podium for Youlden, finishing third at the Gold Coast to raise the coveted ‘surfboard’ (it’s what they give in Queensland in place of trophies) high at the end of the race.

Youlden was on the V8 Supercars podium again at the Gold Coast 600 after an epic street battle

Garnet Patterson with Motorsport legend, Tom Kristensen, at The Bend in SA.

Patterson won the Formula race by 29 seconds – an absolute eternity in motorsport

Driving far less recognisable race car – in this case a Dallara F307 – Garnet Patterson has been one of the rising stars of Formula racing both here and in the Asian Le Mans series for several years now. In 2019, driving in the New South Wales Formula Race Car Championship, Garnet contested three races, scoring three wins, three fastest race laps and a pole position. 

Indeed, so dominant was Garnet in the series that his pole position in the last race was over three seconds faster than the nearest competitor. In the race, things became more extreme with him winning by 29 seconds – enough for one of the other drivers to ask if he ‘couldn’t maybe stop for a sandwich next time’ to give the others a fighting chance. 

Next year, Garnet will be behind the wheel of an LMP2 or LMP3 car somewhere in the world.

“They’re a talented group,” says Pizzati “and there have been any number of other outstanding performances throughout the year, with some of the guys involved in TCR and others in GT3, Production Sports Cars and V8 Supercars.”

“As successful as they are though, what really sets them apart is their ability to impart that knowledge and share what they’ve learnt themselves. No good being the fastest around the track from my point of view if you can’t then use that experience to help others reach their own goals.”

And that ability to teach is something else they all share, along with the almost embarrassed modesty when Pizzati introduces them at the start of a program. But if we didn’t outline their achievements, some participants might never realise just who they’re sitting next to in the car, or chasing around the track.

They simply don’t get any better than this group.

Steve Pizzati (right) with Australian ADE instructors at Audi Sport HQ in Neuburg, Germany.
ADE instructors, Dean Canto, Chris Pither, Luke Youlden, Steven Johnson and Steve Pizzati at this year's Sandown 500.