News: Porsche Sport Driving School Arrives in Canada

Porsche Sport Driving School

The only time we’ve been early for school

Words by: Adam Allen

 

Whenever an email from Porsche shows up in our inbox, we gleefully rub our hands together in excitement: that’s because any event those guys put on never fails to delight. How could it? Driving X Porsche in Y location is a sure-fire way to slap silly grins on the faces of all who attend. This time, Porsche wanted us to check out their Sport Driving School, the first of it’s kind in Canada. We scanned the invitation for the details- we’d be tasked with driving 911 Carrera S and Cayman 718 S’s on Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Driver Development Track under the tutelage of instructors with seriously impressive racing credentials. There are worse ways to spend a spring morning, so we immediately accepted. Those that are new to the brand or that already have a Porsche but could use a reboot on the basics of precision driving while simultaneously learning how to exploit the lofty performance potential of these cars are exactly who Porsche has in mind with this school. The interesting thing is that while we tried a condensed version of the most basic program ($2,495) there are many other levels that follow and build on the skills you have learned already. Those with serious commitment (and, more importantly, talent) could conceivable climb this ladder all the up to the Master RSR training program enroute to a ride in one of the many series in which Porsche competes in.

Class Is In Session

We filed into a track-side boardroom with our fellow auto scribes to get a refresher on the basic fundamentals of traction management and how to effectively keep the cars we’d be driving within their lofty limits of adhesion and braking. The instructors also reminded us about the smoothest way to negotiate corners from turn-in, apex and exit. While most of us have had good amounts of time on racetracks across North America, it is always crucial to go over the basics, especially when ferrying expensive 911’s and 718 Cayman S models around a racetrack at speed.

 An Amuse-Bouche Before Hitting The Track

Before we were turned loose onto the Driver Development track, we were split into two groups: some would try their hands at threshold braking in the 911 Carrera S along the front straight of the track while others would be sequestered into 718 Cayman S examples lined up to take on an impromptu autocross. It should be noted that while the 911 and 718 Caymans are vastly different beasts to drive, all cars were rear-wheel drive and equipped with Porsche’s incredible PDK automatic gearboxes. With the electronic driving aids fully activated and the telepathic nature of the transmission means that drivers can focus on exacting every iota of performance out of the cars without having to worry about a potential shunt or what gear they should be in for the situation. It was great fun to mat the accelerator of the 911 while its peerless rear-engine traction off the line rocketed it towards the braking zone with great haste and then standing on the binders while they scrubbed off the speed impeccably and forcefully. It was the same story of giddy fun in the 718’s- after an exploratory lap of the course, we were allowed an official timed lap that allowed us to wring out the Cayman’s in an environment that compliments its incredible mid-engined balance. Even after this extreme usage by journalists whose skill sets varied wildly, the cars remained in perfect shape- aside for a little scrub on the tires, not one set of brakes faded and engine temperature gauges never budged. The abuse we subjected them to wasn’t even that extreme; those who wonder if Porsche cars are solidly engineered should sign up just to see how they perform in situations most people will never subject their own daily drivers to.

The Main Event

After whetting our appetites during the braking and autocross exercises, it was time to hit the track for some lead and follow laps in both the 911 and 718. Although driving like you’re qualifying for the pole at Le Mans is verboten, after we had circuited the track a few times the pace quickened enough to really put these cars through their paces. Those expecting slow and boring parade laps should not apply- there were times where we were pushing at 10/10ths to keep up with the cars we were following. As the speeds climbed and our instructors illustrated the perfect racing line for us to mimic, the familiar rush of endorphins you only get by attacking a racetrack with gusto flooded our veins. While the 911 offered much more speed because of the more powerful engine hanging over the rear wheels, it wasn’t as easy to hustle around the track as the more intuitively balanced and playful 718 Caymans. Choosing a favourite is impossible because while they’re both so different, each car offered up heaping helpings of enjoyment while letting us would-be students experience the nuances of the Sport Driving School. Fun fact: before we went out lapping in the 718 Cayman S, we reset the on-board fuel economy calculator to see what kind of mileage we would get while thrashing around the course. As we pulled the cars into the pit lane after the lapping session, a glance at the dashboard showed we achieved 26.3L/100km. While that figure would be grossly unacceptable on the street, it really isn’t too bad for the track considering that the gas pedal spent most of its time tucked firmly against the firewall.

For the time being, the Sport Driving School is only offered at the Driver Development Track at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, but when you consider its location it could attract a potentially huge number of prospective students who live within a few hours drive of the facility. It’s a great location with the storied Grand Prix track within spitting distance and the staff, from the instructors to the support workers, are all terrific and genuinely strive to make the experience a memorable one- not that they have to exert too much effort to do so when you have a fleet of 911 and Cayman 718’s at your disposal. We think the $2,495 entry fee is something of a bargain when you consider the knowledge students will take with them coupled with a generous amount of time behind the wheel. The biggest letdown? You don’t get to help yourself to one of the cars on hand for the journey home.

 

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S — Specifications

  • Base Price: $123,660
  • Body Type: 2-door coupe
  • Powertrain Layout: Rear engine/rear-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (PDK)
  • Engine:  3.0 litre turbocharged flat-six, DOHC, 24 valves
  • Horsepower:  420 @ 6,500 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 368 @ 1,700 rpm
  • Curb weight: 1,916 kg (3,219 lbs)

 

2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S — Specifications

  • Base Price: $80,460
  • Body Type: 2-door coupe
  • Powertrain Layout: Mid-engine/rear-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (PDK)
  • Engine:  2.5 litre turbocharged flat-four, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower:  350 @ 6,500 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 309 @ 1,900 rpm
  • Curb weight: 1,385 kg (3,053 lbs)