Rally Student, Porsche Instructor
I had a totally new experience last week: rally driving! For the first time in four years, I was the student instead of the instructor as I attended the FIRM RallyPro Performance Driving School in Florida.
In addition to making the transition from instructor to student, I also had to make the transition from asphalt to dirt. I really had to start with a clean slate to learn to drive on the dirt in low grip levels. Dirt, rocks, mud, sand – we faced all kinds of loose surfaces!
I got to experience driving both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive cars. The front-wheel drive experience was good for me in case I find myself driving one next year! Driving the car offroad gave me a feeling of what front-wheel drive will be like on the pavement. Even though I’ll have more grip on a road racing course, driving in the low-grip offroad scenarios will definitely benefit me in my future racing!
We did a variety of exercises, including work on a skid pad, offroad driving, and stage driving through the woods. The stage driving gave me flashbacks to the MX-5 Cup race on the Streets of Toronto, because in the woods you have no runoff, just like on that street course! It’s extremely challenging to drive in a situation where you can’t make any mistakes. I got to experience all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive out there, and I found that I favored all-wheel drive in those conditions.
Driving a Miata really benefitted me at rally school – I’m used to driving a car harder and having it be a little loose under me, so I was quicker at learning what a rally car was capable of doing and I was better able to trust the car.
My role as a student was short-lived. This week I’m back to being an instructor with Porsche! I enjoyed the rally experience, and it’s beneficial to see how other instructors work because it helps you learn to communicate better with your own students. I’m excited to get back to the pavement – you probably won’t see me doing any rallies in the near future!