25 Turns

“WHO’S BUYING THE NEXT SET OF TIRES?” I ask myself as I survey the well-cooked Sport Cup 2 tires on the GT4, after my latest track-day adventure in September at Circuit Mont-Tremblant. All the while, I was listening to the crackle-pop of metal cooling down and regarding the heat shimmering from the side vents of the GT4 — I guess that that was a lot of spirited driving.

So, do you want to drive your own Porsche on the track, in a one-day, action-packed, possibly adrenaline-rush-inducing event, exploring your and your car’s limits? Do you also appreciate fine cuisine, gourmet drinks and ambiance, even without the wine or beer (that’s for after)? Not that they marketed it that way. I was to find out on June 11, and Sept. 9.

Earlier this spring (it seems so long ago now) I signed up for a one-day Porsche Sports Cup Canada Experience at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP, also known as Mosport), a track our UCR club’s driver education crowd is quite familiar with. Being keen to try something new, I decided to give it a go. At CTMP, Porsche Canada was to occupy the modern facilities in the event complex up the hill from the track, but for the Circuit Mont-Tremblant track (more on this later), I wasn’t sure what to expect given the more time-worn permanent buildings there. As it turned out, the driver education time at both tracks was as much an amazing smorgasbord as the catered breakfast and gourmet lunch — both were deliciously fun for Porsche enthusiasts and track drivers alike.

June 11: 10 turns — Though it was made to sound somewhat like a “race” event, the one-day event at CTMP was a BYOP (Bring Your Own Porsche) experience, set-up on the Grand Prix track, as well as spread throughout the extensive paddocks, designed to educate the drivers about the handling characteristics of their own Porsches on and off the track. Drivers were grouped as best as could be according to their previous performance-driving experience and car type. There were 911s, a few GT4s, 944s, Boxsters, Caymans and Macans, and even a few classics.

Being able to traverse the 10-turn Grand Prix track safely was to be the ultimate experience, but Porsche-certified instructors were also on hand to guide drivers through a slalom station, a braking station, and two autocross stations in a one-day event. Though I had gone through our own club’s excellent Introductory Driving School and Driver Education program on the same track, it was wonderful to refresh my previously learned skills and build upon them in a progressive way, much like our club does. The weather was lovely (no rain, which would have made the slalom and autocross stations even more driftable fun) and I had ample opportunity to warm up the tires on all the stations as well as during three 20-minute sessions on the Grand Prix track, which were interspersed throughout the day. The track sessions were in a lead-follow arrangement with pods of three to four cars behind top-notch instructors in new GT3s. What a blast! The fun autocross event became very competitive with ever-faster practice runs culminating in a good-natured timed competition near the end of the day. I gave it a good go, driving smooth and fast on the grippy Sport Cup 2s, electing not to engage launch control, and found myself about mid pack. Did I have a competitive final time? Maybe just a little, but I certainly had fun and a great learning experience.

Sept. 9: 15 turns — I loved the Mosport-CTMP event so much that I signed up for a similar event at Circuit Mont-Tremblant (CMT) almost as soon as I finished the day at CTMP. Before attending, however, it was time for another track inspection. Since it was just over a year since I took delivery of the GT4 at Porsche Centre North Toronto, I had my first service done there, with a track inspection carried out at no extra cost. While at PCNT, I received a warm welcome from the general manager and the sales manager and got to meet some of the service department people too. Evidently, my name had come up (in a good way) in a meeting with Porsche Canada about the Mosport track experience day.

At Tremblant, Porsche Canada set up an amazing huge event tent in the main paddock with roll-up windows, a ceramic-tile-look interlock floor, high-top tables, lounging sofas, ambient music, flower arrangements, and all the catered food you could eat, complete with a gourmet coffee bar — not that I’m motivated at all by the food experience. The set-up allowed us participants to be fueled, focused, and relaxed but excited to perform. One couldn’t want for anything more, complete with a backdrop of the scenic Laurentian hills and a trackside view.

Like the CTMP experience, groups were formed according to driving experience and car type. Though we didn’t have a separate braking station, the autocross course was set up with a “box” that one had to stop in at the end of the circuit. Since there were fewer stations, the bonus was that we got more track time. We each enjoyed four 20-minute track sessions on the 15-turn circuit and, depending on each driver’s experience and the assessment of the Porsche instructors, one to two of the afternoon sessions were solo but with the instructors keeping a careful eye on things and coaching, if required, through radios located in all the cars. Remind me some time and I’ll tell you how well a radio stays put in a GT4’s swing-out cup holder (or any 981/982-platform Porsche for that matter).

The track time was amazing. For those who haven’t experienced it, Circuit Mont-Tremblant is worth the trip — it is smooth and flowing with only a couple of blind apexes and, generally, lots of run-off areas if one overcooks a corner, or otherwise runs out of talent. Throughout the day, and to the credit of the Porsche instructors, not a single driver, regardless of experience, mowed the lawn. That’s not to say that all of the cones marking out the autocross and slalom courses remained untouched! I think that we all contributed to the aerobic fitness of the Porsche instructors that day as they reset the cones.

I felt challenged yet comfortable at CMT, continuing to probe some of the handling limits of the amazing GT4. I was able to explore a track I’d never even seen before but was able to pick up the essential aspects in a couple of instructor-led lapping sessions and was deemed safe to go solo lapping, under watchful eyes. I had fun lapping safely with a variety of my fellow participants, exploring the differences amongst the cars that come with horsepower (straight-line speed, such as with a 911 Turbo S) and suspension set-up (precise handling through the various types of corners, including a hairpin, such as with the GT3 and GT4 cars).   

Chatting with other participants during both the CTMP and CMT experiences, I gathered that they all had fun too and enjoyed the experience. All were impressed with the performance of their Porsches. Gauging by the smiles on the faces for the group grid photo at the end of the day on both tracks, everyone had a memorable and fun experience. For some participants this would be their only track driving and autocross experience, but for others this was just an appetizer for even more performance driving. Sign me up! </>

Photography by Jordan Lenssen

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