Audi RS 6 performance at the Thruxton Circuit start line

An experience to savour


We head to Thruxton, the UK’s fastest circuit, to sample a trio of RS models
during one of the latest Audi Sport Experience days

Audi R8 Coupe V10 Plus driving around Thruxton Circuit

If you’ve ever taken part in one of the generic driving experiences that can be found at race circuits across the country, you’ll know how they usually work. You get to drive three or maybe four laps in a car that feels slightly past its best, sitting next to an overbearing instructor who keeps telling you to slow down. Thankfully, the latest Audi Sport Experience follows a different path – maximising the time customers get to spend in each car. This is achieved by limiting numbers and splitting drivers into three groups, meaning you’ll have plenty of time at the wheel of one of the three cars – Audi’s R8 Coupe V10 plus, RS 6 performance or RS 3 Sportback.

I arrive at Thruxton feeling a little apprehensive. The 2.4-mile Hampshire circuit is one of the most intimidating in the country, featuring a handful of fearsomely fast corners – namely the right-hander, Church, which can be taken at over 110mph in the R8.

Audi driving instructor Rob Barff

The rear of the Audi R8 Coupe V10 Plus

The day kicks off with a briefing from the team of expert instructors (known as Audi driving consultants). Unlike most events of this nature, customers don’t have an instructor next to them in the passenger seat, sharing a car with a fellow customer instead.

I start off in the R8 Coupe V10 plus, in a drill that showcases the immense stopping power of the car’s ceramic brakes. The premise is straightforward: accelerate as hard as you can towards a cone chicane, brake as late as possible and swerve round the cones. Simple in theory, but it’s initially difficult to persuade yourself the car will stop in time and not jump on the brakes far too early. Once you learn to trust the car, the braking power is eye-widening, decelerating from 60mph to a stop in what feels like the blink of an eye.

Audi RS 3 Sportback driving around Thruxton Circuit

Next up is an autotest in the deeply impressive RS 3 Sportback – essentially a tight course made up of slaloms and hairpins. The RS 3 relishes being flung around the cones, its quattro all-wheel-drive system offering up huge levels of grip. At the end of each run, our instructor, Karl, offers words of advice on how to build speed and get the best from the car’s chassis.

Before lunch we head out onto the circuit to learn how to tackle Thruxton’s first chicane in the mighty RS 6 performance. It’s an immensely satisfying feeling to nail the perfect line and hear ‘that was perfect’ from the instructor over the in-car radio.

The Audi RS 3 Sportback and the Audi RS 6 performance driving around Thruxton Circuit

The Audi R8 Coupe V10 Plus steering wheel

The programme for the afternoon focuses on driving full laps of the circuit in the R8, following our instructor, current GT3 racer Rob Barff. We start off slowly, steadily building pace lap by lap. The R8 feels absolutely electric when let loose around Thruxton, hitting over 150mph before braking into the final corner. I thought I had wrung every ounce of performance from the car, but jumping into the passenger seat with one of the instructors to finish the day showed what Audi’s RS models are really capable of… If you’re looking for an experience that allows you to push yourself and the car to limit, but also come away from the day a better, more knowledgeable driver, then the Audi Sport Experience is perfect for you.

Written by James Clark. Photographs by Alex Shore.

 

Find out more about the Audi Sport Experience