Up to this point in time, nothing I have ever done in my life could have prepared me for this.
I hit the accelerator and 530 wild and untamed horses were unleashed all at the same time in a mind-blowing burst of speed that took me from a standing start to almost 100kph in just 3.3 seconds.
It was then that I knew the Audi R8 V10 was driving me, not the other way round.
As we roared down the straight at the Dubai Autodrome, I knew that this was going to be the ride of my life.
That’s how my day at this Audi experience started and it’s something I will never forget.
Arriving at Dubai set the tone for the day. Outside the airport were five very large and exquisite Audi limos waiting to transport us to the circuit in style and comfort, the luxury you only dream about if you were a company executive.
Arriving at the circuit, we saw the vehicles we were going to drive that day: five Audi R8 V10s, all looking resplendent in their racing livery and colours, plus five Audi TTs.
Think back to your birthdays as a child, or your children’s birthday as they receive their presents, how totally excited you used to be or your children get, bouncing up and down with total anticipation of what’s to come.
That was me, one big kid, being allowed to play with big boys’ toys for the day.
Our playground, the Dubai Autodrome, a multi-purpose sports facility with an indoor track and 5.39km outdoor circuit, is one of the most challenging in the world, with high-speed straights and technical corners.
Safety first, though, so before we even got behind the wheel, we needed a briefing on what to expect. We were all introduced to the Audi driving experience team, two racing drivers/instructors and their chief instructor, who did all the talking.
I sat there with baited breath, waiting to meet my vehicle. I got the go-faster red R8. I was in heaven.
The car, an Audi R8 V10 5.2L FSI quattro (a four-wheel drive) with 530 horsepower, has a top speed of 316kph, thanks to a seven-speed double clutch.
To ensure our safety we had walkie-talkie radios to receive verbal instructions from the instructor, who was driving the lead car.
After our warm up and familiarisation circuit, we were back in the pit lane and ready for the first proper lap. At the exit of the pit lane, I hit the gas, and the car rocketed in three shakes of a lamb’s tail to over 100kph and kept accelerating. I counted the speed, 100, now 130, now 170kph, in the time it has taken you to read this.
It might not have matched the performance of a Formula One car – 375kph top speed in those super machines – but I felt like Lewis Hamilton. Brake, brake, brake, go in a straight line, turn wide and aim for the apex of the bend, indicated with a very small yellow curve, accelerate out from the apex, not too close to the car in front, and not so far behind that the lead car couldn’t see you.
Driving through the corners at over 100kph is something you would never do normally, but this car honestly felt like it was on rails. No body roll, no drift, no screech of the tyres, just one very loud and powerful engine.
Driving down the straight at almost 200kph was another mind-blowing experience, but the car was up to the job; it did what was asked of it and plenty more, all the while keeping me safe.
I thought the Audi TT might be a little tame after the R8 but boy, was I wrong. Our mission was to tackle a timed handling event, an obstacle circuit laid out from traffic cones, with various gates and a slalom in the middle.
Each driver was timed and to stop the clock, had to finish in the parking box. Any cones hit or displaced and the driver would incur a two-second penalty.
I thought the R8 was fantastic, but the new Audi TT – the 2015 model – has a longer wheelbase and wider chassis, giving it better road handling and better control in the corners.
My group was fiercely competitive, clocking up exceptionally good times of less than 30 seconds, taking out more than a few cones in the process.
We hammered those cars; they took it and came back for more.
Sadly, it had to come to an end. After lunch, we were told the results of the timed event. I came in second with around 29 seconds, pipped to the chequered flag by another driver called Hassan.
My only question now is: When can I do it all again in the new R8?
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