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Learning to tame the RS6 and RS7 with the Audi Driving Experience


Amid the roaring of hi-po V8s, there's a gnawing little off-camber voice. "Is there something not quite right about this?"

As I am rocketing around the Phillip Island track in some of Ingolstadt's finest while grinning like a loon, I park that thought for later scrutiny and get on with clipping apexes, Audi Driving Experience-style.

This is the hot-laps part of the day and we're doing them in the returnees, the RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback.

In line astern of the Audi instructor, four RS jobs loudly loop the circuit, steered by helmeted hacks getting the double benefits of a media launch and a track day.

The track days are increasingly popular on the Audi calendar and this year there are 60-plus around the country, catering to nearly 1500 participants. Drivers don't have to be Audi owners or in a dealer's sights, just moved to part with several hundred dollars — for starters anyway.

Why do we have to get into trouble to get out of trouble?

Get hooked and there are five tiers, topping out with race-style programs and, among other diversions, ice driving in Europe. If you have to ask what they cost...

Our Driving Experience program starts with hazards, some of them driver-induced, then focuses on the electronic nannies that enable today's vehicles to deal with them, then takes in a little attitude adjustment.

We must go against instinct on some manoeuvres but we are, as they say, in controlled conditions. This is when the Off-Camber Kid murmurs, "Why do we have to get into trouble to get out of trouble? And can this make us too confident on the road?"

We rotate through braking, oversteer and slalom exercises, when marker cones take more of a battering than the view of one's skills. Among our cohort of two dozen, no one has a mortgage on blunders.

The activities are about awareness and avoidance

Later there's a motorkhana course in SUVs on the skidpan, where there's no shortage of inundation coming in from the Antarctic via Bass Strait. Chief instructor is motoring all-rounder Steve Pizzati. How does he view chucking Audis around to underscore their safety cred?

Ultimately, he says, the activities are about awareness and avoidance "and we've also got to show what can go wrong".

In Victoria, where grisly road safety billboards are common, there's plenty of that. As opposed to shock tactics and "little carrots and lots of stick" from road authorities, Pizzati says, the track days get drivers to appreciate the perils of the road as well as the safety gear on their vehicles.

"They'll spend a full day to get their rhythm. We have few participants so they get more drive time. They'll come away saying, 'How tricky was that?' "

It's about here that Off-Camber Kid gets the metaphorical blue flag from the marshal and yields to the front runners. This is, after all, not a safety course but a Driving Experience and we're here to steer.

My co-driver and I leave the RS7 burbling at idle, belt up in the Avant and boom out behind the instructor on to the drying track under clearing skies. We roar some more.

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