Back on track

The Audi driving experience makes a very welcome return in 2021.

There are few things to rival the Audi driving experience for pure adrenalin, and in 2021 it makes a welcome return to Australian race tracks – better than ever.

MyMedia

29 March, 2021


Now in its 10th year, the ADE has thrilled, entertained, educated and inspired literally thousands of participants since it was launched

It’s enough to make any motoring enthusiast drool. A line-up of Audi RS models fuelled and ready to go, one of the country’s premiere race tracks at your disposal and some of the finest racing drivers in the country on hand to offer personal tuition in the ‘fast arts’. Welcome to a day in the life of the Audi driving experience (ADE), back on track in 2021 and better than ever after a forced hiatus last year due to ‘you know what’. 

Now in its 10th year, the ADE has thrilled, entertained, educated and inspired literally thousands of participants since it was launched as a manufacture-based program back in 2012, and the program’s appeal and popularity has continued to grow over that period, with demand stronger than ever.

In 2021 the ADE returns to the track with its most impressive fleet of high-performance vehicles – an array of high-performance machinery worth more than $5.5 million, made up of R and RS models ready to be put through their paces at some of the best motorsport facilities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Then there is the outstanding team of instructors, all successful racing drivers in their own right and highly effective communicators led by the irrepressible Steve Pizzati – Audi Australia’s Chief Driving Instructor – himself a race driver, engineer and respected motoring expert.

It is the perfect motoring recipe, all delivered with Audi’s customary hospitality and attention to detail – from the warm reception on arriving at the track, to the Audi lounge area, fine food and refreshments throughout the day and the professional yet relaxed feel to the proceedings – the popularity of the ADE comes as little surprise.

The appeal of the ADE to motoring enthusiasts is obvious, but participants come from all backgrounds and age groups, with often vastly different motoring experience, says Pizzati. The programs though have been designed to ensure that regardless of any prior experience each participant comes away at the end of the day with a greater understanding not only of what the cars can do, but also having explored, pushed and honed their own skills.

“It’s not uncommon for customers to come back again and again,” says Pizzati, “with some attracted by the obvious performance elements of the course while others are interested in getting more from their own motoring or sharpening up their own skills behind the wheel.”

For many it’s their first time on a race track, while others have considerable experience in motorsport. But the very nature of the programs is such that the only competition is personal, with each participant helped to achieve their own goals and most importantly enjoy themselves in the process.

The appeal of the ADE to motoring enthusiasts is obvious, but participants come from all backgrounds and age groups, with often vastly different motoring experience

The Audi driving experience boasts a fleet of high-performance cars worth more than $5.5 million

In the wake of the pandemic and the resulting restrictions, the 2021 ADE has undergone some changes, most notably to the areas of health and safety surrounding personal contact, social distancing and hygiene. Participant numbers, which have always been kept low to ensure the greatest levels of personal coaching have been further trimmed, and vehicles and surfaces are routinely disinfected to ensure participants’ safety.

Then there are the aforementioned cars, with the likes of the RS 5 models, RS 6 Avant and the RS Q8 (currently the world’s fastest SUV) and the Audi R8 supercar, joining the RS 3 models and TT RS across two distinct programs – the Audi dynamic driving experience and the Audi Sport Pro driving experience.

This means that participants in the Audi dynamic driving experience drive nothing but RS cars from the get go, while the Audi Sport Pro focuses even more on the brand’s supercar, the extraordinary Audi R8.

From dynamic exercises on the skid pan to emergency braking and avoidance techniques, to fast one-on-one laps of the track, each ADE program builds skill and confidence in a safe and controlled environment that is at once instructional, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable.

Imagine climbing behind the wheel of say, an Audi RS Q8, and following a current V8 Supercar driver around Phillip Island, following their lines and braking points as the speed steadily increases with each lap. This is literally a part of what customers can expect from an ADE program and words simply can’t do justice to what a thrilling experience it is – this is the sort of thing that requires full immersion to be fully appreciated.

At a recent press event at Phillip Island Grand Circuit, even the assembled members of the Australia motoring media couldn’t get the smiles off their faces despite the fact that many were veterans of track days and high-performance drive events – such is the appeal of the program.

That the ADE formula works is evidenced by the tremendous take up of the events, with 90 percent of this year’s programs snapped up not long after the announcement was made that the ADE would resume in 2021. 

“We’ve achieved a lot for our participants, and conducted an extraordinary amount of different activities over the past decade,” says Pizzati, “but after such a devastating year in 2020, I’m delighted that we’re back with a program that, in my opinion, is the best it’s ever been.” 

Certainly, those who have already sampled an Audi driving experience program would agree that this is definitely one for the bucket list, while those yet to get themselves trackside have the ride of their lives waiting for them.

The Audi driving experience is the sort of thing that requires full immersion to be fully appreciated

“It’s been a privilege to lead the Audi driving experience in Australia for the last 10 years,” says Pizzati.