It’s difficult to put the feeling in words but it’s not every day that you look down at the speedometer & realise that you are going over 210 km/h.
BHPian animeshc recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
This is by all means a noob’s perspective of his first track day and should be read from that perspective. You may encounter the word ‘excitement’ in this post more than the number of times you would have heard Alia saying ‘Shiva’ in the movie Brahmastra.
Before proceeding, here is a small personalised teaser of the event shared by the Audi team.
Earlier this year when I was considering my Audi S5, the SA had mentioned about an annual event at BIC organised by Audi where a handful of folks from each state are nominated. Assuming it would be a standard sales pitch, I hadn’t paid much heed to it and almost forgot about it. Cut to Nov 2022, I was pleasantly surprised to see a message about whether I would be interested in attending this year’s event. Hell yeah! (I thought to myself that if I ever say no to such a thing, someone should probably shoot me as I would have lost the joys of life for sure).
The event was on the 18th of Nov and everyone in my circle from family to friends to office colleagues was made aware of it by yours truly (I can be over-enthusiastic at times, to put it mildly). I was all set, except that I didn’t receive any official communication from Audi and all my info was through WhatsApp messages relayed by my SA who kept reassuring me that everything will be taken care of. Till the time I boarded my flight, I didn’t have any official invite and for a moment it felt like one of those dinners where your date doesn’t show up (Not that it has ever happened to me, just heard of such things).
But from the time I landed, I was showered with the highest standards of hospitality. Trust me, working with Google makes one used to generous doses of pampering and it’s not easy to be awed but Audi had done a great job!
There was a dedicated driver waiting for the pick up from Airport who drove me to Crowne Plaza in Greater Noida, a five-star property where the organising team welcomed us with a lavish dinner. A dinner with other driving enthusiasts from different parts of the country was such a welcome change from the monotony of other corporate dinners. The Audi team also joined us and we talked at length about the future of electric cars in India, how Audi was themselves surprised at the relatively overwhelming demand for e-tron and how they are working with different powerhouses to set up charging stations along prominent highways. We were broken into groups of 10 and allotted slots for the next day. I happened to be part of the first group and was supposed to report by 8:30 am.
The excitement of the events to unfold meant I was up at 5 am the next day. At breakfast, I met the other members of my group and there was a palpable sense of thrill. Again to my pleasant surprise, each of us had been allotted a dedicated car which would take us to the event and provide an airport drop post that. Audi was going to great lengths to make us feel elite and sitting alone in the back seat of an Innova while going to the BIC, I was already smiling to myself eagerly waiting for the day to unfold.
After reaching and completing the registration formalities, we made our way to the waiting area which had snacks, some VR games, a photo booth etc to keep us busy while everyone assembled. We could view the track from there and see the cars getting lined up below.
I don’t remember a single person who didn’t gasp at this view from the gallery.
We were then given a quick briefing on what to expect. There were going to be two parts, a slalom course and then the drive on the race track. For the slalom course, we would have the e-tron SB at our disposal and for the track, 4 laps in an RS5 and 2 more in either an S5 or RSQ8.
That’s what I call a great morning buffet!
Some more pics
Can you feel the joy
Before starting, there was a photo session where we posed against the RS e-tron GT. This photo was then framed and shared with us at the end of the event.
So we made our way to the slalom course and were explained about the track. It had a bunch of cones which you had to drive around including an 8 formation, after which there was a straight patch where you could really press the throttle and then you had to brake and stop before the end line. The idea was to get a good sense of handling, acceleration and braking.
They would also time each participant and you would get 3 attempts at improving it.
The instructor did a demo round and timed it around 48 seconds though he mentioned that a great score would be around 40 seconds.
There were few others who went ahead of me and their timings ranged from 65 s to 55 s.
Finally, I got my turn, it was the first time I was driving an electric. I pressed the throttle and the pushback was insane, I could feel the crazy bout of acceleration punch me in my stomach (which actually took me a few mins to fully recover from). The eeriness of silence with which the car picks up speed is unbelievable. My first attempt was timed at 55s. Excited by the results, I went harder the second time and brought it down to 50s. I can still feel goosebumps as I write about that experience.
On my third attempt, in my bid to go even harder, I lost a bit of traction on some of the turns and could actually feel the car electronics coming into play. Alas, it was also timed at 50 s. At the end of our batch, the best someone achieved was 47s, and I ended up being the second.
Overall it was a super fun experience, probably easier than it initially looked and we were grinning imagining that the real event was still awaiting us.
The following videos would help understand the slolam track better.
Now we moved on to the main track and were given some basic instructions about seating/ steering positions and the optimal point to start braking before a turn. It wasn’t a race but a convoy of 5 cars where the first car was driven by the instructor who would give instructions to the rest over a walkie-talkie. The first lap would be a demo lap, then 2 fast laps and then a cool-down lap for the brake pads to cool down. Helmets were handed over and we were all set now. It was a surreal feeling, I could feel my fingers tingling with excitement.
We had time to click a few pics before the laps started.
On the race track, it was difficult to hear the instructions probably due to a mix of the loud exhausts and the distance from the lead car (I was second last in the convoy so a bit away from the first car). The first lap went fine and then we went full throttle from the second one. It’s difficult to put the feeling in words but it’s not every day that you look down at the speedometer and realise that you are going at 210+ kph. I was so engrossed that I didn’t check it again so not sure what the max speed I actually touched across laps but the max *observed* speed was 212 kph. BIC has just one long straight patch where you can try to max out the car, in the other portions you get to enjoy its curves.
Exhausts singing loud interspersed with screeching sounds of the brakes, one corner to the other, it was unbelievably thrilling. It’s moments like these that make you truly feel alive. Though I would admit it was sometimes a bit nervy too as you wondered if you were about to breach the limits of the car but thankfully no untoward incident happened.
Here is a small interview of mine before and after the drive. Need I say more?
Looking back, I think I could have tackled the corners better but I was not braking hard enough before turning in (probably the muscle memory of normal driving preventing me from being as brutal as needed) and had to often brake mid corners thus losing out on some speed.
In the end, I did another lap on the co-passenger seat with the instructor driving and it helped me gain a perspective of what I could have done better. Maybe I would have broken a few more speed barriers had I done this first but nevertheless, it keeps me excited for my next chance. Here is a recording of that lap, fasten your seatbelts!
That was it! Two of the most fascinating hours of my life and I thank Audi India from the bottom of my heart for this experience. Before heading out, they handed me a box of goodies including a box of chocolates that went a long way in pacifying my better half who couldn’t make it to the event.
I made my way to the airport, thinking about how I would need to unlearn all this before the highway drive the next day. Thanks for reading!
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