BMW Has A Driving Performance Life Hack For You And It Is Found Down Under!

clifford chow
2 Sep 2019

We head on down to Melbourne’s Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for a good shakedown, but not before we make a beeline to go catch some penguins first.

The correct way to get your car to handle better, is not by buying that GT wing from Carousell... and neither does buying various brands of automotive “koyok” make a better performing car. What is truly more important, is getting your fundamentals correct in the first place.

We head on down to Melbourne’s Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for a good shakedown, but not before we make a beeline to go catch some penguins first.

The BMW Driving Experience teaches you the correct techniques in getting your car around a race track. The driver training programme is especially popular with the locals, as they do have a big car culture over here. There is a hive of activity at the pit building, as we join eager participants in registering our licences for the programme.

The course is staggered into two, beginning with: ADVANCE 1: Introduction to performance driving (priced at AUD$1,395). This teaches you the fundamentals of how to pick out cornering lines, the right braking techniques. All of this learning comes together like the sweetness of honey, when you put that BMW M car around the track.

Once you get your driving foundations right, the next stage is the: ADVANCE 2: International M Intensive (priced at AUD$2,200). This programme must be taken within 5 years of taking the ADVANCE 1 programme.

After a short briefing, you are brought on-track to revise topics covered during the ADVANCE 1 track experience. 

The key to driving quicker, is not about the speed itself, but how smoothly you pilot the car around the track. In learning how to do this, exercises which involve high-speed braking, driving physics and which also greatly alter vehicle balance come into play.

While in the first course, instructors go on to cover the right way to take your cornering lines; in the ADVANCE 2 course, you learn about recovery around the bend. Reason for this is because not everything flows smoothly around a track, and you can find yourself setting yourself in the wrong line for a bend. But knowing how to adjust your lines also come in handy, especially if you do need to overtake a slower driver on the track. Through this, we also learn about the dynamics oversteer, and how to control the car when the rear-end steps out.

Obstacle courses in the “Motorkhana exercises” are also longer than those of the ADVANCE 1 course. Tighter turns, and set around a bend, makes for a more challenging experience. The course is designed to easily upset the balance of a car, and going in too quick can not only result in lost time from ploughing into a bend, but knocking over any of the cones results in time penalties… Yes we are timed.

More importantly, we need to gather all that we have learnt, as a fleet of BMW M2, M3 and M4 cars have been prepared for us to lap around the track.

The Grand Prix circuit at Phillip Island is also home to various International MotoGP and automotive races, and while slightly narrower than the one found at Sepang, it is genuinely quite forgiving; providing an ideal place to hone your track driving skills. 

Uphill and downhill slopes, present a challenge to driver perception, and a long high-speed straight which overlooks the scenic Bass Strait, allows you to floor your M car like it was stung like a bee. With the downhill average speed of 230km/h, your mind will be a buzz with planning on how to enter the next two corners. The BMW M cars are excellently built road cars, which are simply at home on the track. The drone from the exhaust, matches the stinging scream of its straight-six up in-front. My personal favourite is the M2, which is a little more nimble than the larger M3 and M4 cars, and offers a little more play from the rear.

Worth It? Yes!

Learning to track a car may be all fun and games, but if you take your learnings seriously, they can even be applied out of a performance driving environment. You will learn to drive smoother and better than before going for the programme. I may be waxing lyrical here, but I certainly have benefitted. 

ADVANCE 1: Introduction to performance driving - AUD$1,395*
ADVANCE 2: International M Intensive - AUD$2,200*

Click here to find out more!

*Travel and lodging is not covered in this programme

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