Porsche teaches us to drive the 911 properlyPorsche has a special facility at Silverstone that'll allow you to learn how to drive your car properly. We had a go.
-If you wanna brush off your driving skills, there are plenty of performance driving skills to choose from, but there's one that does things just a little bit differently from everybody else. At the Porsche Sport Driving School, not only can you borrow a Porsche car but you can take your own 911 so you can really learn how to hustle your own car around. At the end of your course, you'll also get an internationally-recognized Porsche driving qualification. There are 3 levels to choose from, precision, performance, and master. So we're here to give precision a go to see exactly what the course has to offer. After a short briefing I was introduced to my instructor. We went to sample all aspects of the Porsche Experience Center as well as get some time on the legendary Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit. First off then, we went around the handling circuit to see just how good I was on track. -Every corner has a different approach, a different viewpoint that's the vision. -Yes. -And a difference in the balance that we need to try to achieve with the car. So the old adage of slow and fast out is true in any car but especially in this, the 911, yes without a doubt. I can see you nice and smooth behind the wheel which always helps. That's absolute key. You can someone he may be fairly quick and we've all seen this having watched, you know some grand prix on weekends you can see people who are quick but if they're ever a drive a car-- -Yes. -Then the car starts to go off. They start to go slower and slower and fall back into the pack. Now you're turning here is a little bit early, so you made this corner. So you turn once. -Yes. -You've taken the lock off and then you've turned again. -Yes. -So you've loaded the car, unload and loaded. So actually you sort of upset the balance of the car size. So what we're trying to do is make that one continuous lock all the way through. If you hang on to the brakes for too long and see your handling, a) you'll stop, but b) you can actually shift too much weight to the nose and of course you unload the rear axle. -Yes. -Bearing in mind where the engine is in the 911, you then lift that heavy engine up and it rolls as you turn in, so you cause an oversteer. The kick plate is as described this plate that you drive over that will kick the back of the car sideways. -Yes. -Putting you into a sudden oversteer-type situation. -Yes. -Onto not just any old surface. -No. -But a surface that has a grip level of melting sheet ice. -Brilliant. -80, oh God, 90 and oh God. Oh. -Well done. -Boom. So I guess we're gonna have to go a bit faster this time. -Yes. So as we said in the circuit, vision is so important. If you look in the direction you want the car to go, is the same as if you had to round back and you suddenly start to slide, if you just look in the direction the car is sliding, you'll end up going that way and you'll end up sliding into the curb or the car, whatever it might be. If you look in the direction you want the car to go, either exit of the tarmac. For example, for the exit of the heading corner that you'll unfortunately sliding through. -Yes. Then of course you're more likely to go in that direction. There are 3 things with steering and your steering was really quick which is great and you steer it the right way just about the right amount. There are the 3 things. If you're literally looking at the bonnet here and the car starts to pivot around that point, it's very difficult to feel what's going on behind you to feel the back of the car moving. Whereas if you're looking ahead, you imagine the much longer wheelbase car and that swing that was much slower, is much more gradual. -Yes. -Then moving the car, and you just got that extra half second to understand what's going on and to process the information. -Yes. -And therefore your reaction is much better. Look ahead, look ahead, look ahead as quickly. There we go. So much easier. Well done. Now key the power on. Key the power on, Allie. Key the power on. Flavor the car. Make it move around and then put a little bit of steering on as well. Lovely. -Way to go. Another go with the traction on. Now it's time for traction off. -Okay. -Let's see what the difference everything makes. You get points for that like some other competitions like skating on ice or something like that. -Yes. -I can't try my hand at it and span. Lots. It was very entertaining and it also served the purpose of showing off just how good Porsche's safety systems are. After my pure win on ice we headed up to the ice hills. It's a low-friction surface designed to simulate nasty winter conditions and so the difficulty a driver can face in changing direction quickly. -We don't wanna go for a quick swerve as it so because the front wheels as you turn will start to understeer. So we want a gentle turning, then pick up the throttle to win the upper hand. Very good. I didn't hold the button. -That was fancy much fun. -Always keep looking where you want the car to go, good speed. Turn about now. Speed the power and let it go so at seconds close close could be much bigger, get a lock on, lock on, lock on, lock on, lock on. See how much quicker we need to get to the front. Otherwise brake. -That does not feel nice. -It's okay. Reaction speed, reaction speed. Direction perfect. The amount was perfect. Speed, speed, speed. Get ahead of the slide with your steering. Sometimes people say, Ben, how quickly and how much steering do I need. The answer is always as much as possible as quickly as possible. -Okay. -Because if it's too much, you can always take it off and you'll feel that and you will because you got some feel. So you'll feel that oh, that's too much, I can say the lock was great, but if you never been enough on, you'll never catch the side. -Yes. -It's always put everything on and then go from there. Right. -Okay. -Let's see now with everything turned off. -We'll see how good you are now then. Shall we? -Oh, no. -We're just gonna have to make up for the difference that the first one has been making. So you need speed. Super nearly gentle turn. That's it. Throttle might be a little bit too much. We've lost the mic. -Oh, we lost the mic. I ended up spending a lot of my time looking in lots of directions all at once. Then we ventured off to Porsche's low-friction circuit. It's covered in polished tarmac designed to be extra slippery and simulate the feeling you get when you're driving on freshly fallen snow. -This time form a circle. -Okay. -We just need a little of understeering and understeering just to find out where the level of your peers. What's causing the slide, causing is the extra throttle. -Yes. -So often just take the way the course. -Yes. -Helps you catch the slide. So we'll have a little play with that and-- -What happens if you turn everything off? -It's all off. -It's all off. -And so I think we know what's coming. -Yes. 3, 2, 1. -Never fear so you just saved my ass lots of times. -Oh yes. -Having tried all aspects of the Experience Center we ventured out onto the Grand Prix circuit. It was absolutely incredible. Just a couple of weeks before F1 heroes have been giving this track their all and now I, little old me, is doing just the same in a brand spanking new 911. And after a while I was just about getting the hang of it. Sadly though, the day was drawing to a close. -It's been absolutely brilliant day. I've learned a lot and I appeared to have poked mine very muddied. What once was clean, black in 911 in front of your lovely selection of crisp white cars, but I have to ask how did I do. -Genuinely really good, well done. It's the confidence. Isn't it? You can go away from today just feeling that much of a confidence in that car, the car that you've been spending in the day in. -Yes. After a final shakedown chat on the handling circuit, I was given a little bit of a present. I go in a 997 GT3 RS, the very same car that put in the record breaking 7-minute 33-second lap time at Nurburgring. It was awesome. So that was the Porsche Sport Driving School, and I gotta say what an incredible day. I mean the sheer variety of activities we did, actually they really helped me become a more confident driver. The Porsche Sport Driving School isn't cheap. It's around a thousand pounds a day but included in that is 101 bespoke instruction and an hour on the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit. You also get something that money really can't buy, confidence. I left Silverstone that day with more confidence behind the wheel than I'd ever had. That kind of confidence is worth ten times the price.