Porsche winter driver training is about as good as life gets with your clothes still on. Recently Daily XY was part of the Camp4 experience at Mecaglisse Motorsport Park in rural Québec. Dissect that name and you get the sliding holy place, wholly appropriate. We spent a full day slipping and spinning on carefully planned snow and ice trails under careful instruction.
Camp4? Code for four-wheel drive, although we kept the four-wheeling to a minimum. The program had us in three different Porche models, for three unique one-hour exercises.
1) The rear-wheel drive Cayman—its mid-engine placement creates laser-accurate balanced handing because that engine, car’s heaviest object, is located between the central axles.
2) Rear-wheel drive 911 Carrera S—its 400hp rear engine means weight in the back. Add to that its rear-wheel drive and you can oversteer donuts on slippery surfaces indefinitely. In fact that was the second exercise. (Told you it was fun.)
3) 911 Carrera 4S—starts out as rear-wheel drive but, when needed, the electronically controlled differential moves power to the front tires for the extra control of four-wheel drive.
How it worked
To maximize learning time and minimize freezing yourself solid, we were paired up and divided into three groups of ten. Then each group was sent to different courses with a master instructor and an attractive young assistant. That meant each group had five cars with five pairs of drivers. We’d switch following each turn on a given circuit.
The cars were equipped with two-way radios. The instructor observed us and barked directions from his omniscient and safe vantage. So while you await your next turn, you get to listen and learn from (or laugh at) the instruction of whoever’s sliding out on the icy plane.
Each exercise always began with the Porsche Stability Management controls on. Then we’d turn it off for a healthy dose of reality. Magnificent fun!
When you can successfully control oversteer, you’re a star
It’s like that perfect golf swing. You feel bigger. Others openly admire, even if they’ve just done the same. Several times I had utter control, gliding like a Viking god—just before spinning out into a snow bank.
My co-pilot, the Ice King Ronnie Fung, wryly observed that we’d never be allowed to do something like that in a Porsche in any other circumstance. Don’t be fooled though. Despite the multiple spinouts, the event was well coached and completely safe. No one had the speed or impact to deploy airbag. And not one car was actually damaged beyond a deep snow-job.
Following a couple of one-hour and invigorating sessions in the morning, we enjoyed a decent lunch (bienvenue au Québec) during which the instructor reviewed what we’d learned that morning.
Next came another thrilling exercise in the afternoon, adjusting to the four-wheel drive’s oversteer—which is counter-intuitive and utterly different from the rear.
Then, we got to put it all together and do hotlaps around a three-minute course of ice, rich in hills and twists. But we got to keep doing that for nearly a full and thrilling hour. My face was sore from smiling.
Porsche Camp4 — from $5,195 plus taxes
Though a co-owner and former editor of DailyXY, Steven Bochenek is actually an advertising writer who does some journalism on the side. In 2011 he was accepted into the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. His other interests include playing music, long-distance running, skiing and writing in the third person.
Photo courtesy of Porsche Canada.