Don't say we didn't warn you but if you failed to participate in OVERDRIVE's 2010 anniversary celebration contests here is one of those rare opportunities you missed. Vasantha Krishnan who comes from Chennai and Byram Godrej from Pune, winners of our 'Learn to Drift a Porsche' contest found themselves on a flight to Heathrow, London on the 30th of June. Both of them were headed to the Porsche Advanced Driving School at the Silverstone race circuit to learn the fine art of …drifting! Yes the driving art almost every petrol head dreams of mastering would be taught to these guys in nothing less than the finest set of wheels that Porsche had to offer over the course of a day. You can only begin to imagine the excitement both Vasantha and Byram experienced, neither of them slept a wink on the ten hour flight to Heathrow.
We'd like to state here that the Porsche Experience centre is not a school that teaches drifting as much as it is a school that imparts lessons on how to apply correctional methods in case you lose control of your car in wet and slippery conditions brought on by rain, snow or slush. The by-product of learning those correctional remedies of course ends up in itroducing and then perfecting drift skills.
So from one of the most famous airports in the world both lads were whisked away in a chauffeured Porsche Panamera Turbo to the Whittlebury Hall hotel and spa which is just a stone's throw away from Silverstone. 22 hours after having left Mumbai without having shut their eyes for even a second I presume consuming the 8" steaks over dinner must have finally got them exhausted enough to fall into bed.
Early next morning a shiny black Porsche Cayenne S stood patiently outside the hotel entrance waiting to carry Vasantha and Byram to Silverstone and the drift school. From the main entrance of the circuit through an access road to the gates of the Porsche experience centre is an experience itself. The narrow lane winds around the circuit right behind the grandstands allowing a view of one of the greatest circuits on the planet. Unfortunately this morning there weren't any cars running laps, yet the epic sense of being right next to a circuit that supports the very top rung of global motorsport and where the following weekend the British Grand Prix would be held was an unforgettable moment!
The boys' arrival at the gates of the Porsche experience centre was nothing short of an event in itself. No sooner did the Cayenne roll to a halt that the doors of the SUV were flung open and out fell our winners eagerly rushing to get pictures with the 911 Turbo, GT3 RS and a GT2 standing in the parking lot. A quick breakfast and briefing done our lads were directed to their cars by the instructors. To their pleasure the cars turned out to be a slew of 911 Turbos, Cayman S and Boxsters.
From there on both were shown the various exercises around the facility by the instructors after which they got behind the wheel themselves. Off they went then to the first experience, the kick plate. This is a small metallic plate placed at the start of a wet track and it shifts horizontally either to the left or right upsetting a cars momentum when it drives over the plate. The faster you drive over the plate the more violent the kick. It's a bit like applying your handbrake when driving without knowing which direction the tail is going to swing in without the slowing down. The objective of the exercise then is to read the direction in which the tail kicks out, react immediately by counter steering and correct the car well before it goes into a spin. Its not as simple as it sounds and even after a dozen tries both Vasantha and Byram weren't making much progress, though finally they did cotton on to the drift and soon were engrossed in it like pros.
Up next then was the low friction track where they pretty much perfected their newly learned correctional skills. The low friction track has around five hairpin corners the surface of which is very slippery asphalt that offers literally no grip. In a rear wheel drive Porsche with over 300 horsepower then it's very simple to lose control and get sideways. The trick though is to continue holding onto that slide by managing the throttle and steering position making you look like a drift god from Tokyo Drift.
Again the exercise is not so simple and in the first few attempts I'm sure Vasantha who's never driven anything larger than his M800 must have had a near death experience seeing the tail kick out on the Porsche every time he floored the throttle. Yet a few laps later the lad had managed to get all the motions into place and was on his way to trying and linking one corner into another sideways.
Byram who's had a bit more experience with powerful cars had a go in a Carrera 4S, a four wheel drive variant and frustratingly wasn't having much luck with getting sideways since the drivetrain architecture isn't prone to losing control easily. But Byram being stubborn and pigheaded eventually managed to master the Porsche and was soon on his way to a starring role in the movies as well. At the skid pad Byram then went on to demonstrate to everyone's surprise that he was a fast learner spinning the car around in perfect doughnuts keeping it sideways through the entire circle.
A couple of exercises more at some of the other tracks further perfected Vasantha and Byram's skills behind the wheel of the cars they were driving. Post lunch both our winners then got driven around the entire facility flat out and sideways in a GT3 RS piloted by an instructor. Undoubtedly the highlight of the day? You could say that seeing how Vasantha and Byram stepped out of the car shivering in sheer terror or was it delight?
In Vasantha's words, "Overall the Porsche experience at Silverstone has been phenomenal and a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have had few opportunities to touch another car, be it for transit or to drive on track. But here I was behind the wheels of a Boxster S , Targa 4S, 911 Carerra and Cayman S. And my favourite is the 911. I hopped into the GT3 for a hair raising spin around the track and it was the icing on the cake. We were treated so royally throughout the entire trip, happy to know that the whittlebury Hall hotel where we stayed launched ForceIndia F1. Thanks Porsche and thanks Overdrive for this once in a lifetime opportunity".
The entire Porsche Driving Experience was thanks to our friends at Precision Cars India Ltd who were quite eager to partner with us and made all the arrangements for our winners. As for you dear readers the anniversary issue is coming up again, keep an eye out, keep your fingers crossed and keep those entries coming in. Who knows this year your prizes might just get bigger and better than ever before!
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