Audi Sport Week
A full complement of RS and R8 cars, a brand new race track and motorsport royalty – welcome to Audi Sport Week.
26 September, 2018
It’s the biggest permanent race track in the southern hemisphere and second only in size to the Nurburgring Nordschleife on the world stage. A massive 7.7 kilometres in its longest configuration, with 35 corners and an elevation variation of 85 metres – the track at South Australia’s The Bend Motorsport Park is something to behold. It is the jewel in the park’s crown, which includes a world-class go-kart track, skid pan and on-track hotel, and will add a drag strip, 4WD circuit, rallycross circuit and luxury on-site villas in the near future.
Indeed, The Bend Motorsport Park just an hour out of Adelaide is nothing short of magnificent, and so it was a fitting venue for Audi Australia to stage Audi Sport Week – a showcase not only of the brand’s gleaming arsenal of high-performance RS and R models, but the perfect way to give press and VIP customers a taste of what Audi Sport is all about.
Over the course of a full week, customers, guests and the press were the given the chance to sample Audi Sport’s finest in this brand new motorsport environment, taking part in a specially design Audi driving experience program (ADE) with Audi Australia Chief Driving Instructor, Steve PIzzati and his team of highly skilled instructors helping participants get the most from the experience.
And, as if the combination of cars and venue wasn’t enough to thrill the most demanding motorsport aficionado, Audi had one of the greatest racing drivers of the modern era – nine-time Le Mans winner, Tom Kristensen – in Australia for the entire week to not only share his insights and experiences from his extraordinary motorsport career, but to take lucky participants on the ride of their life around the track.
Audi also had motorsport royalty – nine-time Le Mans winner – Tom Kristensen on hand for the week
Local resident, V8 Supercar champion and regular Audi driving experience instructor, Dean Canto, currently holds the record for most laps around the new track
This is immersive high-performance motoring. The opportunity to drive pretty much everything from the Audi Sport range on the entire GT circuit of The Bend, as well as putting cars through their paces on other track configurations and in the wet on the skid pan. From the giant-killing Audi RS 3 Sedan and Sportback to the all-new Audi RS 4 Avant which was only launched in Australia in May, through the TT RS, RS 5 Coupe, RS 6 Avant to the Audi R8 RWS and R8 V10 plus – the opportunity to not only sample each model, but to tackle a section of track first in one and then another and gain an extraordinary insight into the different performance and handling characteristics of each.
Steve Pizzati was at the helm directing his hugely talented team of instructors with his customary professionalism and humour, his team were tasked with taking participants first through a series of high-performance exercises to familiarise themselves with the cars and aspects of the brand new circuit, before taking on the whole track lapping.
Local resident, V8 Supercar champion and regular Audi driving experience instructor, Dean Canto, currently holds the record for most laps around the new track, and by the end of Audi sport Week, had added plenty more laps of the facility, as he led participants in one-on-one lapping, showing the optimum line around both the V8 Supercar course (a 4.9km circuit) and the full 7.7km monster.
The Audi driving experience program for Audi Sport Week was an amalgam of the Audi Sport and Audi Sport Pro programs. It showcases some high-performance highlights from the ADE that have for the past six years been giving Audi customers and motoring enthusiasts the chance to experience the true capabilities of the Audi and Audi Sport ranges, on race tracks around the country. This coupled with the invaluable tuition of the Audi driving experience instructors – themselves all accomplished motorsport champions – has made the ADE one of the most celebrated performance driving programs in the country. Indeed, since the Audi driving experience was redesigned and relaunched in 2012, more than 8000 guests have taken part in programs, on 355 separate days and driving more than 250 cars.
While the chance to experience the Audi Sport range on a track and at speed is a definite drawcard, the exercises – like high-speed braking and evasive manoeuvres – often have the most profound effect on customers, many unaware of just what the cars are capable of in extreme situations.
Then of course there is the chance to drive different models back to back. Experiencing first hand the difference between the R8 RWS and the R8 V10 plus quattro on The Bend’s skid pan highlighted the very different handling characteristics of the cars – particularly with the traction controls turned off – not to mention the complete lack of talent of the author.
In addition to the performance exercises, the full-track lapping with one instructor for each participant was a feature of the Audi Sport Week experience and the ultimate in individual tuition. Trying to come to terms with the 35 turns that make up The Bend’s major circuit is no small task behind the wheel of an R8, but chasing an ADE instructor and attempting to follow their lines and braking points took the whole experience to a new level and is an invaluable lesson.
Although Audi Sport Week was not a race or a competition, as with other ADE events, a timed motorkhana at the end of the day, not only gave competitors a chance to vent their competitive side, but with a hot lap of the main track with Tom Kristensen on offer to the fastest time, competition raised to a new level.
It’s all part of the Audi Sport ideal – enjoying vehicles that have a rich motorsport heritage in their very DNA. A celebration of performance motoring, a definite honing of skills and a much deeper appreciation of what ‘high performance’ really means. Absolutely addictive.
Trying to come to terms with the 35 turns that make up The Bend’s major circuit is no small task behind the wheel of an R8
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