Driving a 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S around a race track, watching the G-Force meter on the dash tick-up when braking hard at the end of a straight-away, and seeing the same meter rise again as one steps hard on the accelerator to push the rear-wheel drive Carrera out of the corner’s apex and down another straight-away, may not on the face of it seem like an exercise that does more than keep one’s adrenalin pumping, but Porsche begs to differ – and for good reason.
Ask anyone about their own driving abilities and you will undoubtedly hear about how almost everyone else on the road “can’t drive.”
Horror stories abound on the daily news, where multi-car pile-ups are reported on our highways and whole sections of roads, or entire intersections, are closed for hours on-end, as police reconstruct accident scenes trying to figure out what driver did what to create the mess.
Yet how does one know how good a driver one is, especially given that driving tests, whether taken a couple of decades ago or recently, measure the most elementary abilities. And really, can you pick up what you need to know in parking lots, country back roads and on crowded urban streets?
The challenge is to test, develop and practice your driving skills and be safe at the same time.
Porsche’s answer to this challenge is The Porsche Sports Driving School.
Offered in Canada for the first time this year, the Porsche Sports Driving School is grounded in a key principle: helping people become better, and as a result, safer drivers. And the bonus is you get to do that on a closed track at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Driver Development Track, with Porsche Certified Professional Instructors, and to drive Porsches.
The sunny morning I recently spent roaring a new 420 hp Carrera around the Driver Development Track – and a new 359 hp, mid-engine Porsche 718 Cayman S – was without doubt a blast. It reminded me both of the G-Forces track driving offers and lessons I learned years ago at a similar training program and how relevant those skills are on our sometimes dangerous streets, helping me to successfully avoid at least one collision recently that could have been serious when a wayward driver ran a red light at an intersection I was about to enter.
Learning how to take evasive action is but one of the take-aways Porsche offers drivers that complete its program. Importantly, Porsche’s instructors spend time explaining the physics of driving, but in simple terms that anyone can understand.
How many drivers today really understand how speed impacts load changes, how skilled braking can optimize steering and the telltale signs in a difficult situation of under-steering and how to correct that? In other words, how many drivers know the calculus that dictates how well one’s vehicle responds depending on the road conditions and driver input and how to maximize that response for safer driving?
And is there really a better way to develop these critical skills and practice them than in a new Porsche?
I confess I could not think of a better way as I felt the G-Force push me back into my 911’s seat as I accelerated down the straight-away on the Driver Development Track for my last circuit of the day.