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Old 21st November 2012, 18:04   #1
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Default My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai

It all started when I came across an Overdrive FB post talking about a few contests that had just been put up on their website. A few clicks later I was on the overdrive website and saw three contests that would make any enthusiast wet his pants ! Quite a few of you'll would have come across these;
  1. Chance to Drive a Maserati at an international race track
  2. Drive a Merc AMG at the Buddh circuit
  3. Audi Ice Experience at Switzerland

All these contests had a question that had to be answered and the the Maserati & AMG contests had a tagline to be completed, "I want to drive a Maserati / AMG because... "

The questions were pretty easy and I racked my brain to come up with some catchy cheesy line that might stand out. The Audi contest had only a question which was something on Quattro.

So there I was dreaming of driving a Maserati, going to Switzerland and of course the AMG with that orgasmic exhaust note. Little did I know that there was a second prize in the Audi contest - The Audi Sportscar experience at a racetrack in India.

I got busy with work and the dreams had also long gone, when one fine day I get a call on a Saturday morning from this gentleman who introduced himself as Mr.XX calling from Audi PR. Awoken from my Saturday slumber, the first thought that crossed my mind was that it was a call from a consultant for some job offer thing... !!

He sensed I was lost and had to explain that I had won the Overdrive contest and was going to participate in the Audi Sportscar Experience at Chennai that was to happen on the 18th of October 2012.

The call ended a few minutes later and there I was sitting up in bed, thinking over what had just happened and only then did it sink in..! I was going to be driving a close cousin of the Lamborghini Gallardo, the AUDI R8 V10..! that too on a race track. A 5200cc V10 engine with a power output of a maniacal 525PS, 530Nm of torque and accelerates from standstill to the ton in 3.9 seconds !!! To be very honest I was a bit disappointed it was Chennai, the Buddh circuit would have been so much better, but beggars can't be choosers !

I remember reading about the first sportscar experience at Buddh where team-bhp was invited and immediately logged in to re-read the report.

Well, so this call came on the 13th of October and I was to leave Pune on the 17th evening for the event on the 18th. The next few days suddenly seemed much longer, concentration at work was terrible but boy did I BRAG !!

D Day finally arrived. Audi had booked my flight tickets to Chennai and back and had also organised a pick up from my house to the airport. A very well maintained Innova with a pleasant chauffeur came for my pick up to the airport. It was a late night flight and I was booked into a hotel (Le-Waterina Resort & Spa) near the MMSC racetrack. There was a cab (Indica) waiting for me at the airport to take me to the hotel. During that week Chennai had been going through some bad weather and I was praying the rains didn't wash away the event.

The next morning, we were to leave for the track by around 7-30, but because of the rains, it got a little delayed. There were quite a few journalists invited for this event, most of them from regional publications. Overdrive was covering the event as well, and I caught up with Alan from OD while we waited to be taken to the track.

Finally, we were there at around 9am and we were immediately ushered in for the registration formalities. Michael Perschke, the head of Audi India was there to greet us. There were snacks also being served around, but I was too excited to eat anything !

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1383.jpg

There was a press conference to start with. Michael ran through a few slides talking about Audi's growth in India and about how important this market is for them. This was followed by the introduction of the instructors for the track experience - Mark Allison, Prithveen Rajan and Aditya Patel. Mark then took over to give us some basic driving tips, like seating position, how to approach corners, etc. Pretty interesting and useful tips. We were also told to be careful since the track was wet and the run off areas on the MMSC are quite small, so if one gets too ambitious, it could have an ugly ending. Michael was quite excited about driving on this track and told us the Quattro experience would be much better on a wet track.

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1376.jpg

Karun Chandok was also present for this event. Sitting passenger with Karun while he drove the R8 around the race track is something I never imagined I would get to experience, but .. (more on that later !)

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1379.jpg

After all this was done, we were finally led to the beauties. 12 of them in all !! We had a photo session, where each person could pose with the car. This photo was later printed and handed to us in an 'Audi Sportscar Experience' frame while we were leaving.

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-20121018_100913_284.jpg

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1386.jpg

Before we could get into the car, we had to put on our safety gear - a balaclava and a helmet. Two drivers per car. Alan from Overdrive and myself got into one car. I got into the passenger seat to start with. Car number 11 was ours.

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-20121018_114855_486.jpg

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1392.jpg

All cars for the event are LHD cars. The same cars that were used in the Buddh event. These same cars are actually used across the globe for the Audi drive events. Surprisingly this monster of a sportscar does not have a push button start ! You got to turn the key to bring that mammoth engine to life. At idle its got this nice rumble to it. Rev it a little and one can feel the car rocking a little and I've got all 32 teeth on display inside my helmet..!! The interiors were very well laid out and quality of materials was brilliant. We were divided into 3 groups of 4 cars each. Prithveen Rajan was the instructor for my group. A quick calibration of walkie-talkies and we are off following Prithveen in the lead car.

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1391.jpg

The first lesson is braking and emergency lane change with Mike. There are cones placed to guide you. You accelerate from about 75 away and just slam the brakes at the first cone while bringing the car to a complete stop by doing a lane change (cones are placed as markers) without knocking over the cones. Each driver had 2 runs. After Alan finished his 2 rounds, it was my turn and the first time I would be getting into the driver's seat. Adjusted the seat to my liking and was all set. The LHD setup feels a little odd at first but once you start driving you get used to it, probably because it was a track with no other traffic. Started the beast and had to do the little revving to hear the awesome engine and feel the gentle sideways rocking ! What followed was a moment of total awe. When you know that you've got 525PS of power under your right foot, you're expecting the car to be violent and lurch forward with the slightest throttle input, but boy was I wrong. Put the car into Auto mode, lift your leg off the brake pedal and gently tap the throttle and the car inches forward. You could drive this beat at a steady 10kmph if you wanted to ! It's that smooth off the line. The car is wide and the ORVM's help you in judging the ends, especially since we had to make 'U' turns on the track itself, without getting onto the slushy grass off the track.

This lesson was a real eye opener on the actual working of ABS. To get the car to speed we were told to floor the throttle from standstill for the 75 odd meters before we braked. The acceleration in this car is something that has to be experienced. In no time, you are doing 3 digit speeds, approach the first cone and then brake. Now I braked like what one would call hard braking on a road car, and I continuously hear Mike's voice on the Walkie-talkie.. "brake harder... brake harder.. car no 2, you are not braking hard enough"..! One is supposed to literally stand on the brakes. My second run, I stomped on the brakes with all my might and it was a pretty good run, but I still managed to hit a cone (inner right when doing the lane change). With the brakes fully depressed and the wet track you can actually feel the car sliding a little and you need to correct to get the car where you want it to go. This was immense fun.

The next lesson was the slalom course, where the key was smooth steering inputs. Again each driver got two runs (Up & down is one run - so effectively 4 runs). Pritveen constantly gives you advice on the walkie talkie telling you where you're going wrong. I managed to hit a cone head on on one run but then got the hang of it and put in a brilliant run on my last try !

At the end of the Slalom course, we head back into the pits for a tea break. There were a range of snacks on offer and a fridge full of different soft drinks that you can help yourself with. I quickly use this opportunity to upload a pic on facebook and brag away to glory !

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1398.jpg

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1402.jpg

Post the tea session was when we finally hit the track to put in some laps. I started out as the co-passenger and observed the instructions being given on the line to be followed, braking, steering, etc. There was standing water at some portions of the track that we had to avoid as well. Each driver got 2 laps + 1 cool down lap followed by a driver swap. There were two cycles like this, so in effect each driver got 2+1+2+1 laps.

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1394.jpg

My turn to get into the drivers seat arrived and off I was following the lead car onto the track. There were cones placed to indicate the braking points for each turn and a second cone to indicate the turn in point. The first lap you get used to it, and the second lap you get more confident. Prithveen kept a watch on us from the lead car telling us to turn in more, hit the apex of corners, etc. It was good fun, although they hardly let us push. The R8 was hardly at 20% of what the car is capable of. Even on the straights, the lead car did not let us speed up too much. I guess this is understandable, given that the track was wet and the Chennai track is not very forgiving. After the event, everyone kept asking me how fast I went, and my answer is I don't know !! There were just too many things to do and somehow looking at the speedo was not something I did at all, but I guess we would have hit about 150-60kmph max.

We were back in the pits and suddenly it dawns on you that its over. Well I had a blast, and it was an awesome experience that I will remember forever.

But.. Wait.. It's still not over ! Like I said we were back in the pits and there was an event where a TT was being presented to Audi backed race car driver, Aditya Patel (lucky guy). That was a chance to interact with Michael and some other senior Audi folks. I also got to drool over some other Audi beauties parked there, the TT & the S4. The S4 is one of the best cars I've driven and its the first car I've done 200+ in ! That supercharged engine is to die for.

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1417.jpg

Coming to the point, among all the people there with the Audi bigwigs was none other than India's F1 ace, Karun Chandok. Got to chat with him and he is an immensely likable person, so down to earth ! Big thumbs up to Alan & Overdrive here - As a bonus of winning the contest he requested Karun to take me out on a hot lap. So there I was sitting beside Karun Chandok in an R8 V10 and going to be driven around a race track ! What an experience that was. I have no words to describe it. The R8 was on its limit, screeching and sliding around the corners with Karun brilliantly in control, left leg braking and all. I was in Automotive heaven for the next 2 laps.

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1408.jpg
The Grey R8 was the one that Karun was driving around.

My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai-sam_1419.jpg
That's me there with Karun and the brilliant S4 in the background. It so happens that the company I work for is the maker of the S4's supercharger !

It was finally the end to a brilliant day, and one that I will always remember for the rest of my life. At the end it actually was fun at the MMSC (now MMRT), the BIC probably would have been fun doing high speeds but as a learner track, the MMSC was perfect. Obviously the R8 now has a special place in my heart after this experience. I have a lot of respect for the Audi team as well, for bringing such a fantastic program to India. (That it costs 98K is a different story !) And of course, a big thank you to Overdrive as well, for having the contest and giving me this opportunity.

We were served a nice lunch and given the press kit which included the photo I mentioned earlier, a book on the Audi driving program and an Adidas Audi Sportscar experience t-shirt.
An Innova cab was waiting to take us back to the airport. At Pune as well, the same chauffeur who has dropped me was there to pick me up. It was very well arranged by Audi.

Hope you'll enjoyed reading about my experience. Looking forward to your comments.

Last edited by fiat_tarun : 23rd November 2012 at 22:21.
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Old 24th November 2012, 09:46   #2
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Default Re: My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the SuperCars section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 29th November 2012, 23:01   #3
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Default Re: My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai

Awesome experience, thanks for reliving it here. The sheer feel of driving these beauties is inexplicable. You are one lucky man, I must say.
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Old 30th November 2012, 09:43   #4
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Default Re: My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai

Phew ! That, I guess, is the stuff dreams are made of. On a side note, I have seen the Audi R8, driven on the ECR in Chennai. The owner of Rathna stores has one.

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Old 30th November 2012, 10:45   #5
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Default Re: My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai

Yeah. It took quite some time to sink in. The other day I saw an R8 on the road in Mumbai and it did make go back to that day in Chennai.

I can only imagine what the Audi ICE driving experience would be like !
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Old 17th January 2014, 15:51   #6
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Default Re: My Audi Sportscar Experience at MMSC, Chennai

Bumping up my old thread...

Just had a question if any Audi owners see this - Are you'll invited to such Audi events or offered discounts or something like that ?
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