The last few weeks have been amongst the busiest I can remember. Between commentary, video making and incredible real-life driving opportunities, time to sit down and write has been limited. But my most recent opportunity needed to be shared with you all.
Earlier in the year, Lasse Sorensen, brother of Marco, invited me to Dream Concept. This event plays host to an extraordinary range of cars, some of which Lasse would even let me handle! The highlight of the range was the Audi RS 3 LMS, Audi’s punchy TCR car.
Now, while I had been behind the wheel of a race car before, that was a very different beast. The McLaren GT4 car was rear wheel drive, utilized ABS and traction control and, despite “only” being a GT4 car, it was an extremely advanced bit of kit. The TCR Audi had none of those luxuries. In fact, the only luxury there is the paddle shift system.
Compared to the hand-holding of the McLaren, the RS 3 LMS felt so much more raw. The more basic nature of the car really gave it a personality… a playful personality. The power, somewhere around 360 horsepower, was plenty to have fun with. Truly, it was hard to tell it was an FWD car early on. Everything was so… compliant.
It wasn’t until I started pushing it harder that more of the classic FWD power understeer started to appear. Making things even more intense were the cold rears scrabbling for grip. Despite that, the grip it did have inspired so much confidence, especially once I’d understood more about where the grip was and what the car wanted from me.
Indeed, there was only one thing that could detract from my fun: the car breaking. The more I drove, a noticeable gear shift problem developed. Upshifts became longer and lazier. This had apparently happened previously and the consensus was that I didn’t actually break it. Nonetheless, I still had a hard time not thinking it was somehow my fault.
Thankfully the Audi got out of the correct side of the bed the next day, with the shift issue seemingly sorted. It started with Lasse showing me just what an FWD touring car could do. So much of it was just having more belief in myself and what the car was capable of.
With that in mind, out I went again, this time with the aim of pushing the boat out a bit more — which is just what I did. Braking later, hitting the throttle earlier, getting closer to the barriers and cutting the corners a whole lot tighter. It was such a boon to be able to apply the lessons from both Lasse and what I’ve learned over the years in sim racing.
Driving the Audi was like a drug. The speed, the sound, the g-forces, even the smell — it was all so addictive, such a thrill. Just as I really started to put the hammer down, the issue from the day before resurfaced, marking a frustrating end to the experience. To be honest though, even if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have wanted to stop anyway. I desperately want to get behind the wheel of the Audi again.
Despite my running being cut short, the smile that was left on my face told the story. Lasse complimenting my driving only made that smile bigger. My racing background, as you all know, is in sim racing. This event really did reinforce how useful sim racing is when it comes to transferring to real-world driving.
Despite its usefulness, there is one thing sim racing still can’t replicate, and probably never will — the thrill. The thrill of carrying a bit more speed into a corner or braking a little bit later. Feeling the whole car communicate to you through your whole body. I need more of that in my life.
Thank you to Dream Concept and thank you to Lasse for giving me this incredible opportunity. What an experience.