• FOR AUDI, PORSCHE, HOME IS A RACETRACK

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    Porsche Cayman S leads Cayenne SUV sibling back to the paddock after some hot laps.

    Porsche Cayman S leads Cayenne SUV sibling back to the paddock after some hot laps.

    A SCREAMING yellow, latest-gen, mid-engine Porsche on a racetrack is an awesome sight. Driving it for a couple of laps, though. . . well, that just raises the experience to a new level.

    It’s exactly the point PGA Cars, the parent company of the Porsche and Audi distributorships in the Philippines, pitches in a series of driving events that are held at the Clark International Speedway. And available for customers (and to those who may be new to the German brands’ fold) is not just the mid-engine Porsche—the latest Cayman S, no less—but also the Porsche Cayenne sport-ute, and the Audi A1, A4, A6 and Q3. Other Porsche and Audi models make their way on some editions of the racetrack romps, too. The idea behind the series of driving activities, of course, is that while the cars may look—and even feel—good on showroom floors, nothing beats taking to their steering wheels.

    Apparently, PGA Cars is so completely devoted to the concept that it set up its own Motorsport Lounge for Porsche and Audi at the Clark speedway—the only car brands in the country to have theirs. The facility counts in a pair of pit paddocks on the ground floor, which can fit four cars, a spacious hospitality suite that PGA Cars shares with San Miguel Corp. and a roof deck that affords the best view of the Clark track and from where more food can be served. All make the driving program a hassle-free affair.

    Any staging of the track drives start with a briefing conducted by racecar drivers George Ramirez and Stephan Ramirez, and Audi/Porsche instructor Christoph Klapper (if he is in town and not touring other Audi/Porsche activities elsewhere on the planet). A quick lecture on the proper way to brake and take corners is dispensed with, along with group assignments on which cars will be driven first. After which, exercises on how to accelerate and brake as hard as possible, and on how to steer around cones, follow, giving participants a sampler of what Audis can do.

    Then it’s off for some lapping sessions for all. Befitting their heritage as true driver’s cars—and which boast some of the most storied heritage in motor racing—the various Audis and Porsches are driven on Clark’s full track. No short track nonsense in their case. The participants don’t get nannies inside the cars with them either. The pace at which they get around the three-kilometer-plus track depends on their skill level, which is determined on the fly by any of the instructors who lead any given pack. Simply, the more skilled a group is, the faster the lead car goes.

    The car-guy adage “It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow” applies in the exercises. Because the Audis and Porsches range in genre—subcompact to sport sedan to executive car to SUV and sportster—their power and performance differ vastly. But taking each of them to somewhere near their respective adhesion limits is a pleasure, even if in most cases doing so only allows for a glimpse of their full potential. That’s because, simply, it’s likely that their limits far exceed those of the drivers.

    This is especially true with the Cayman S. Though packing relatively light firepower compared to today’s supercars—275hp and 289Nm—it is no slowpoke, with a naught-to-100kph sprint time of 5.4 seconds and a 266kph top speed. But it’s not the rate at which it can hurtle through space that is phenomenal with the Cayman S, it’s the car’s ability to go around corners. The balance afforded by its mid-engine layout, the precision at how its steering components turn, the immediacy of its ability to switch directions, the poise with which it can handle clumsy driving—all are beyond nitpicking. As a Porsche, its brakes are epic.

    On a track or on a showroom floor, it is just awesome. All it takes to confirm that is one drive.

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