At the Hungaroring near Budapest, Porsche enthusiasts arrive with their GT road cars at the place they were truly built for – the racetrack. Here they perfect the ideal racing line and hone their all-round driving skills on the Master GT training course
Improvement comes from within
Frank is an entrepreneur. He’s a man who loves to push and be pushed. And that extends to his hobbies. A regular at the Porsche Track Experience Master GT training courses at the Hungaroring near Budapest, he travels here with his 911 GT3 RS. White and yellow in colour and sporting distinctive yellow rims, with the outline of the Nürburgring on the rear window, it’s a car that certainly stands out. And not just visually either – his car has been optimised by leading Porsche racing car engineers, Manthey-Racing.
It’s here, at the Hungaroring, where Frank says he can really push himself to the limit. Where he can experience the feeling of getting better metre by metre, corner by corner, lap by lap. Where he has learned to use less throttle through the corners and increase his levels of concentration so he can precisely steer an ideal line. “It’s actually quite simple and yet so difficult,” he says. “It’s wonderful when you feel yourself starting to get better and better”.
Tackling the curves
On his very first day on a Porsche Track Experience, Frank says he learned how to pick the ideal line, brake at the right moment, turn in, hit the apex and accelerate precisely at the exit of the corner. Very quickly, he became acclimatised to the Hungaroring. It’s a track that’s not considered one of the fastest by professional drivers – who drive into the corners at 200km/h (124mph) and out again at 80km/h (50mph) – because it has so many twists and turns. Nevertheless, due to its technical nature, full concentration is required. Even the smallest of mistakes can be punished here. Frank and his fellow participants drive 700km on the track over the two days of the course. The learning curve is a steep one – there are very few track experiences anywhere where you have this kind of intense focus.
In between laps on the track, Frank – who used to race motorbikes and also attends track days between Master events to keep him on the ball – says these moments are about "giving it your all and being in control at the end”. He goes to Porsche training sessions mainly to have fun and meet other Porsche enthusiasts. After a short breather to talk to us, back on the track he goes, guided by the messages relayed over the radio to him by his instructor – steer as little as possible, drive calmly and at speed.
Driving at a hundred smiles per hour
Like Frank, Michael is also a regular at the Porsche Track Experience. The 40-year-old uses a break in on-track activities for a video call with his family. Holding his mobile phone up to his face, he walks up and down the pit area, grinning. He turns the phone towards the track to film other cars as they speed by and raves about his favourite corner. Precision driving can be exhausting, he tells us. After each training session, Michael and his instructor sit down together, watch the VBOX video analysis and discuss how to better approach lateral and longitudinal acceleration based on the purple curve, which puts his own values on top of a professional’s attempt for reference.
You can’t imagine how intensively we work before we go out on track in order to reduce our times
Track life’s what you make it
Carol and her husband Gustavo have come a long way to be here, at this glorious racetrack north east of Budapest. From Brazil, to be exact. Before their Master GT training course, they spent a few days checking out the historic Hungarian capital with its rich culture and vibrant nightlife. They’ve been Porsche fanatics for a while now. “We fell in love with a Porsche 992 on the Côte d’Azur,” enthuses the 36-year-old designer and entrepreneur, whose mother is German. Back home they bought a Porsche Carrera T shortly afterwards, joined the Porsche Club Brasil and have already passed all three levels of the Track Experience in their homeland.
They wanted to be well prepared for the Master GT – the highest level of the Porsche Track Experience programme. Gustavo wants to use the Porsche Racing Experience to take the next step and move into motorsport. For Carol it’s a break from their rental car. Extended free driving, vision control and load changes are implemented in this particular training session. “I want to know how much pressure I’m braking with and how fast I’m going on the start-finish straight,” she says. The circuit, with its vast array of angles, is challenging for her. “I feel confident,” she adds, “even though my heart’s beating like crazy.”
An exercise in pure concentration
Opened in 1985, the Hungaroring – dubbed ‘Monaco without walls’ – is located in Mogyoród, about 22km (14 miles) north of Budapest. Just under 4.3km (2.7 miles) in length, it’s renowned as being one of the world’s safest race circuits – and one of the most technically demanding. There are eight right-handers and six left-hand corners with just one real straight. It’s a track that allows little chance for a breather and demands the utmost from drivers. Its bumps are a particular challenge, giving both drivers and cars a good shake. After a fast combination of corners – there is little margin for error when it comes to finding the correct braking point – you hit your top speed on its 788.9m-long (half a mile) start-finish straight. These prove to be optimal conditions for Porsche Track Experience training programmes – it’s a circuit that generates maximum levels of endorphins for all participants.
Following in the tyre marks of legends
During their GT Master training sessions, Porsche Track Experience participants develop their skills under motorsport conditions. At the wheel of their own vehicle or in a Porsche GT rental car, it’s a track experience that will improve every aspect of their driving skills. After a briefing on the basics of track driving, professional instructors take participants out onto tracks – like the Hungaroring – that motorsport fans from around the world will know from Grand Prix events, touring car racing and the like.
In small groups, participants learn how to safely handle GT road cars and perfect their ideal line, all with the aid of video-assisted analysis of their driving style. This technology very quickly makes their strengths and weaknesses apparent. Two days on a circuit like the Hungaroring is a steep learning curve. But, as pointed out by Frank, nothing beats that feeling of being in control by the end of it.