There’s pretty much nothing more exhilarating than driving a Porsche. Except driving a Porsche on snow and ice.
That’s exactly the kind of experience Porsche Camp4 Canada offers. Run out of the frozen Mécaglisse racetrack in Quebec, about 90 minutes outside of Montreal, Camp4 originally started as a press drive event held in Finland for the launch of the 911 Carrera 4. It was such a hit with participants that it grew into an annual two-day training course, open to the public, and is now also held in Switzerland, Italy and even China.
Taking place over five different waves, we were fortunate to be part of a contingent of media guests invited to a condensed version of this year’s program. Camp4 is every bit as much about providing a luxury getaway as it is driving instruction, and attendees stay at the nearby beautiful Estérel Suites & Spa. Meals at the resort, as well transportation to and from the track, are included in the cost of admission.
The day got off to an early start, and before boarding a shuttle for an approximate 35-minute ride to Mécaglisse, a theory briefing was held at the hotel to cover driving technique. Head instructor Jonathan Urlin spoke at length about vehicle dynamics and car control.
“Your instructors today will be talking a lot about weight transfer, and what they will have you do is induce these drifts, these oversteers, by using the brake pedal,” said Urlin.
“Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Here’s the explanation — anybody can go out there, hit the gas pedal, spin the rear tires, do the Tokyo Drift stuff and it looks cool, it’s fun. But here at Camp4, What we do we focus on driver technique. In the rally world for example, what we do to get through a corner is by using weight transfer to the nose of the car to allow the car to rotate. And it’s what we call an oversteer.”
Urlin also talked about the three different cars that would be used in the event, and how they all perform differently, particularly in frozen conditions: a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive Cayman GTS, a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive 911 Carrera GTS and an all-wheel drive 911 Carrera 4 GTS.
Post-briefing, it was time to get into the cars. Drivers were paired off and put into different groups, and assigned to specific vehicles for the duration of the various activities. My group started off at a station focused on using the brakes and steering to purposely unbalance the Porsches, and then learning how to recover safely from a skid. Afterwards, it was attempting to drive around a circular portion of the track without losing control. Before lunch, we practiced sliding around a series of cones in a short slalom.
Following the break, the course was reconfigured into one continuous leg with different sections incorporating all the skills we were taught throughout the morning.
People who complete the standard Camp4 school, known as the Precision level, are eligible to register for the two other intermediate winter programs that Porsche offers, including the Performance (Camp4S) and Masters (Camp4RS). For more information about dates and prices, visit the website.