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I see Stephen Verdier’s R8 in front of me braking hard as he entered the braking zone before the carousel turn, I do the same to maintain the three car distance. I feel the awesome stopping power of the 8-piston calipers pressing hard against the cross drilled ceramic discs slowing down the R8 in a few eye blinks. I push the clutch and shift the gear lever to the third slot. The car revs up performing engine braking, I ease the brake entered the apex and start to accelerate as I fixed my eyes toward my exit point – the technique that they’ve been teaching us all morning- that will carry me at the fastest possible speed through this G-force producing turn at the Infineon raceway.

Stephen - a World Rally Championship (WRC) race driver - and I zip through the carousel in the R8 at speeds which would throw many self-proclaimed sport cars into a category five hurricane spin. As soon as Stephen hits the apex, I notice his R8 accelerating at a mind bending rate as if it is about to reach escape velocity.

“Flat out, flat out on this stretch,” Stephen instructs us through the two-way radio.

I try to keep up; pressing the accelerator to the floor, shifting to fourth and fifth, while the melodious 420 horses from the firewall behind me provides the soundtrack. It pushes my spine firmly against the Recaro seat.

As the speedometer needle is reaching the area that is reserved to only 1% of the population, we are entering the switch backs followed by a hair pain turn. This is my fourth lap in this R8. I know better now that I do not need to slow down to devour the switchback. And I can wait as late as possible to apply the cross-drilled ceramic brakes to enter the hairpin safely. I struggle with my daily common sense. The black markings on the concrete barriers remind me of the F-1 catastrophic accident where parts of the car were flying in omni direction. My fear creeps in despite the three hour training I had earlier before the team of instructors approved me to drive solo the precious R8.

How It All Began

The morning air was balmy and the temperature was at the level which would make San Franciscan night-out crowds shiver. The sun hung right in the mid point between the horizon and the zenith. The morning sun beaming through the high clouds created rays of lights resembling the pillars of heaven.

The quite morning was interrupted by the sound of screeching tires. The burning rubber smell immediately filled the air. There was no crashing sound after that. Instead, a sonorous burble of 420 hp V8 FSI bounced of the gigantic gray metal structure that makes up the main podium of Infineon raceway in the southern Sonoma Mountains, California. I turned my head to look for the source of this commotion. There, among the orange cones, in the parking lot behind the podium, the silver exotic Audi R8 was performing a gracious slalom at what seems to be an impossible speed for the mini auto cross track.

Behind this salivating scene, rows of 2007 Audi TTs, A4s, A6s, A8s, RS4s, Q7s, and more of R8’s were lined up with the precision of German railway time table. I felt like I was eight again playing all day long with my 1/64 die cast Hot Wheels. I couldn’t wait for my Audi Driving Experience session to start. R8 photo gallery

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