Skidding Through the Airport, Launching a Porsche in the Clouds

Thursday, May 7, Whistler, BC — Yesterday was pleasantly easy on activities. Again each AJAC ( journalist was arbitrarily assigned a car in the morning and another in the afternoon. Why assigned? The alternative would be a passel of car geeks constantly scrambling for the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid. And we all know where that could lead.

My morning draw was the attractively endowed Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. (Don’t you love how Lincoln’s marketers have trained lazy Canadians to start saying ‘zed’ again? For the past decade, I believed this.) We drove just 40km to Pemberton for the morning’s activity: “dynamic evaluations” of the vehicles, aka rally.

It was hosted by AJAC member Alan Sidorov of Sidorov Precision Driver Training. Many guys (especially on the Internet) think they know a lot about driving. Even the most detail-soaked Aspergers genius withers in the face of Alan’s effortless knowledge of physics and mechanics as they relate to motion.

He and his team set up two small courses on the tarmac of Pemberton BC’s rarely used airport (the signs look hand painted without even the aid of Lettraset). He brought two team members to co-manage the event. When simulating emergency conditions, you need rules and expert rulers who not only set up the courses but tightly oversee who has access and when. Sidorov’s instructors included Clare Samuel, former British Champion Rally Driver and for retired RCMP vet, Murray Lunn, a mellow gent who can quickly lay down the law when necessary. This is top-notch professional instruction.

The topographic situation was breathtaking­—the Pemberton Valley is among the most brazen in BC’s sluttish Sea to Sky Corridor—but the physical restrictions of the narrow airstrip proved a boon for testing ‘green’ cars designed primarily for city use. That data-gathering equipment which measures how conservatively we drive (or don’t) was wisely turned off for the session.

We traded vehicles and tested them between slalom and skid courses. The greatest revelations for me? The hilariously fun Nissan Leaf and dynamically thrilling Cadillac ELR.

In the afternoon, we were free to fill our own agenda with scenic local drives or a visit back to Sidorov’s courses at the Pemberton Airport. I chose the route to Lillooet, a high mountain road very light on traffic but heavy on switchbacks and steep dips. Since the routes wouldn’t match, the data-gathering ‘loggers’ remained turned off. Even with Big Brother not watching, I still confess to NOT achieving any environmental records for green driving. My draw for the afternoon? The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid!

Though a co-owner and former editor of DailyXYSteven 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 the author.

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