After 18 years on North American soil, the Porsche Sport Driving School is officially in session in Canada, which is good news for enthusiasts on both sides of the border.
Faced with an enviable exchange rate, Americans can now take advantage of what’s basically a 30 percent discount by heading north to attend the program that launched this month at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP), just 50 miles east of Toronto. Conversely, Canadians in search of the of the Porsche Driving Experience no longer need to count on what works out to a 30 percent price premium to attend the program in the U.S.
Helping make the case for the Canadian version of the program is how it matches up with its contemporaries in other parts of the world. The curriculum of this entry-level Precision course is the same as what’s taught at the 15 other locations worldwide and focuses on the basics of performance driving. Under the watchful eyes of a handful of experienced instructors, attendees are taught proper acceleration, braking and handling techniques during the two-day program on a combination of the 1.8-mile (2.9-kilometer) Driver Development Track and the adjacent skid pad.
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Porsche Canada invited a handful of journalists to take in a condensed version of the program on the eve of its official launch. Providing a glimpse of what attendees can expect, our day covered proper on-track braking in the Porsche 911 Carrera S, a timed autocross course on the skid pad behind the wheel of the Porsche 718 Cayman S, and finally, lead-follow laps around the track with both cars.
Tons of Wheel Time
The program wisely begins with a classroom session that covers off everything from safety basics to racing physics, though it’s anything but boring. Interesting and engaging, the lessons are best described as putting in layman’s terms exactly what is required to become a better driver. From overall driving dynamics to dealing with understeer and oversteer, plenty of valuable information can be gleaned by first-timers and track day veterans alike.
The fact that attendees will be hoping to spend most of their time on the track certainly isn’t lost on the folks running the program, and they’ve filled it with plenty of just that. The basics of accelerating, braking and handling are covered first and foremost, with the intensity ramped up as the day progresses. This is where instructors provide information in real-time on not just what to do, but why to do it. It’s one thing to be told where the braking point is for a Porsche 911 and its rear-mounted engine, but the added insight as to why it differs from that of a mid-engine 718 Cayman, for example, is equally as important.
The skid pad is the perfect place to learn how to properly manipulate a car’s momentum in the pursuit of driving precision. Speed isn’t always the answer, and tight turns through snaking pylons prove that fluidity is perhaps more important. (It certainly doesn’t hurt that the near-perfectly balanced Cayman is on hand for these lessons.) Our autocross course on the 1,000-ft (305-meter) long skid pad didn’t appear all that challenging from the start box but looks proved to be deceiving, and executing a strong run required patience and proper pedal modulation.
The Big Payoff
Finally, the program culminates in lead-follow laps around the Driver Development Track. This is where all lessons learned are put into practice, with instructors leading packs of participants around the entire 1.8-mile (2.9-kilometer) course and its tight — though not especially technical — turns. Geared more towards the agile Cayman than the Carrera, it wasn’t difficult to catch the latter quickly in the former even if that’s not the point of the exercise. Instead, it’s all about executing proper racing lines in the shadows of folks that know a thing or two about them.
Once again, the wealth of knowledge and experience shared amongst the instructors is on full display, providing feedback on the fly to help drivers improve with each passing lap. Armed with a surprising amount of patience for a group of current and former racers, these are the ideal instructors for those looking to get their feet wet on the track without pressure for perfection right out of the gate.
The Porsche Sport Driving School runs through mid-September at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The two-day program is priced at CAD$2,495 per person.