Nigel's Blog 18th December 2014

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Nigel's Blog 18th December 2014

Published: Thu 18 December 2014 | by Nigel Chadwick

This is a short and fast blog. Kevin and I finally managed to align and free up diaries to head to the official Porsche Centre based inside the Silverstone F1 grounds. With 2 dedicated and specially designed circuits, this centre is the only one of its type in the world. With dozens of Porsche cars, dating from 1980's 911's through to the full model range currently available, the facility is something quite special.

So after a briefing on the circuit profiles, skill testing areas, and safety matters, the lucky participants got a tour and some trying out of the human performance section - a facility dedicated to testing of driver strength, fitness, endurance and reaction speeds; and used by some of the F1 drivers and teams.

Without much ado, it was out onto the track first in a cream coloured Limited Edition 50th Anniversary 911... a wonderful example of a modern 911 that celebrated the 50th year of production and evolvement of the famous 911 design and engine. The professional instructor providing just the right insight and feedback to enable faster and faster laps to be completed with accompanying gains in confidence. Some 7-10 minutes it takes for the tyres to warm to optimum traction temperature... then its all about selecting the right 'lines', guiding through the apex, looking around the corner to the furthest point (this takes some getting used to as it is not how most people approach or view going into a corner), braking techniques, applying a balanced throttle, unwinding the steering wheel and acceleration out of corners. There was discussion of the Ackerman theory, momentum & force, and about the relationship between the steering wheel turn, % of tire contact and traction. All essential knowledge if these cars are to driven to their optimum. The essence of driving a 911, the basics of good technique if you like, do not change between the early 911 - the SC's, 964's or 993's - and the modern GT3's, Turbo's or Carrera 2's. Adopting and applying the right technique, these cars reveal just how wonderfully responsive and immensely capable they are (even on a slippy circuit as was the case on this occasion) - no wonder they garner such a dedicated and appreciative fan base. The PDK version gearbox of this car worked just wonderful, no wonder it is considered one of the best in the world today.

Lunch was to the same high quality standards as everything about this day; choice of menu items and food prepared by a professional chef. Coffee and cake and other refreshments were available throughout the day sustaining the adrenalin fix of the drives. And it was out for the main afternoon session, this time in a dark wine coloured manual Carrera 2 - a modern 'purist' version of a 911 if you like. And what an experience, as pretty much all of the track can be covered in 2nd & 3rd gears only, such is the acceleration performance and testing nature of the circuits (they are specially designed to reflect open UK country roads, complete with twists & bends, up-hills/down-hills and straights. Add into this the special skid pan areas, wet 'kick-plate' and ice-on-road areas, the day really does add up to a quite unique driver experience. Anybody with a remote interest in driving or cars would leave this 'experience' beaming a big grin and an invaluable insight & knowledge about how to drive any sports car of the past 30 years.

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