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Getting behind the wheel of a few powerful BMW cars on the track proved to be a bit difficult for our Editor to handle at the BMW Advance 2 Driving Experience.

07 May 2019

This is my second time driving on the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Melbourne, Australia. I am here for the harder and more intense BMW Advance 2 Driving Experience.

Available on the track was the M3 Competition Pack
My first time at the track was just last year when I came here to attend the BMW Advance 1 Driving Experience.

Thus, I am more familiar with the track when I'm driving hard and fast with a range of BMW cars that I'm equally well-acquainted with.

Unlike the more 'intermediate' driving experience, this 'expert' experience guides me to have a better control of over and understeer, learn how to brake correctly under high speed before entering a corner and better understand the vehicle balance and cornering techniques that come with it.

Over the next eight hours of driving, I managed to get behind the wheel of the BMW M2 Competition Pack, the BMW M3 Competition Pack as well as the BMW M4 Coupe.

Although the cars were familiar to me, I struggled to be the top of my class. This Advance 2 Driving Experience could well be as hard as my first marriage, with difficulties arising as time passed on.

Cars heading out to prepare for the high speed driving around the track
For starters, playing ball on my first exercise of hot laps around the 5.2km-long circuit with both the BMW M2 and M3 Comp Pack was a piece of cake. I could easily get used to all that Bavarian power and torque on tap.

However, the driving courses increased with difficulty and velocity as we moved along.

The second part of our driving experience includes high speed braking in corners, which requires us to dive into corners at speed of over 100km/h and jab hard onto the brakes and negotiate the turn.

I literally drifted through and thoroughly destroyed a portion of grass patch with my spinning tyres while my driving partner bursted out laughing.

It was an embarrassing moment, no doubt, but that was a lesson I learnt to ensure that my next several runs were done in style. They weren't perfect, but not further damages were done to grass patches, I assure you.

Advance slalom course means having a sightly more complicated setup on a curve portion of the track
What I can also assure you in style was the way I drifted through one of the turns, as we practiced on the following course. Thanks to the training I had last year during my Advance 1, partial drifting is a familiar course for me.

The exercise is to trigger the car into action with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) switched off by accelerating at a turn and stabilising the car, which I did. And with that, even the BMW M3 with its 450bhp was well-tamed with me behind the wheel.

This, of course, has largely to do with my vision and controlled right foot. As BMW Driving Experience's Chief Instructor Derek Walls mentioned earlier during the briefing, "Finesse is key on the track. Don't try too hard by constantly mashing the accelerator because subtle movement on the right foot makes a big difference."

He also added that looking far helps you negotiate a turn better because the car will naturally go where your eyes see.

BMW Driving Experience's Chief Instructor Derek Walls briefing us on the importance of the pressure of our right foot
His sound advice was constantly on my mind as I went on to do my next exercise, which was an advance slalom - meaning a more complicated series of cones to manoeuvre around on a curve portion of the track.

For this, looking far certainly helps, but fast hand action steering is also crucial to get from one end to the other. Obviously, with my lack of driving skills and a deprivation of a comfortable rest from the night before, I wasn't the fastest to complete the exercise. In fact, I was four seconds slower than the fastest guy!

But that really isn't the point. Speed, while is a thrilling thing to have on any track, is utterly useless without sound driving skills. And the BMW Advance 2 Driving Experience clearly establishes this fact.

The Advance 2 course costs about $2,200. This estimated rate does not include your airfare and accommodation, but good-natured fun and valuable experience are sure to be your take-home.
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