It was 16.00 while staring out of my office window when a spam-like email popped into my Outlook inbox. It said something about winning in an AUDI Driving Experience competition but the only legitimate thing in the email (even the email address looked dodgy and there was not a scent of an AUDI logo around) was a country GSM phone number in the end of the email.
I think I read it 3 -4 times, I continued with my work, I had a coffee, did more work until I finally decided, a couple of hours later, I should place the call and see what I had won.
I was prepared for everything.
I was even prepared that the call is wired somewhere in the Caribbean, Africa or somewhere in East Europe and the next thing would be a three digit phone bill arriving into my (post)-mail box.
After I called I was transferred to an agent who actually told me that I had won in the AUDI Driving Experience competition which was going to take place in a month’s time. They also informed me that if I wanted to confirm my interest I should send an email with some personal details. Luckily I was neither asked to wire 1000 Euros in a dodgy bank account nor to provide my National Security Number. However, they could not provide any more info on the nature of the competition e.g. location etc.
I did send the email and I have to say that from time to time I had second and third and fourth thoughts about what I could have messed around with. I was just not convinced.
After some days my wait was over. I received an email, populated with the Audi Logo this time, telling me I had won a driving experience with an …A4, Q7 and R8.
I burst into laughter when I read the last code. It would just be impossible to have won a drive with an R8. Even the Q7 looked a bit too far-fetched. (The A4 was not something to brag about!)
I was once again puzzled as to what on earth competition I had enrolled. At the point I was ready to believe and give in in the apparent legitimacy of the competition I was again back to square one!
Someone must be taking the mickey out of me.
It just cannot be true!
The day arrived.
Even while driving to the Hellinikon Airport, all sorts of thoughts were zipping through my mind.
Is this going to be a real event or am I going to find just…deserted runways.
What if this is about… matchbox cars?
We arrived in the old Athens airport of Hellinikon.
Been greeted by some guys with AUDI caps and seeing further into the airport the cars waiting for us, it was the first and final time I realised that… everything was legitimate, even though, I just could not believe I would be driving the R8.
Well, for the rest two hours I had one of the most wonderful driving experiences I have ever had.
We started off with an initial reception and introduction of the cars and of the whole event. We were offered caps, coffee and biscuits, we were handed in our passes and after sometime that we were left to wander around the airfield, we decided to get serious.
We started off with the Q7. It was not any Q7. It was a V12 TDI Quattro with 500 BHP accelerating from 0-100 in 5.5 sec. We accelerated and broke hard and turned left to avoid hitting a virtual wall. We did this a number of times until we finally managed to accelerate the maximum and break hard just 20 meters before the virtual wall. I cannot describe with words the feeling of accelerating and braking. The acceleration felt like an Apollo rocket lifting off the ground or an F-14 taking off from an aircraft carrier. Braking was like pulling negative Gs with an F-16!
After this initial …starter to get our appetite and … saliva going, we took a short break and continued with another driving experience with an A4 Avant 2.0T.
We did a slalom among road cones and tested the A4’s agility – the ability to move swiftly around the track. As I said before, the A4 was not something to brag about. It was just right!
And then, as if a dream was coming true, we moved with the main course or, if you prefer, with the cherry on the pie. Call it as you want it. The truth of the matter is that driving that car was a piece of utter orgasm.
We moved closer to the R8. We spent some time looking at it, staring at this piece of art trying the think what the designers and … creators of this car were feeling when building such a car.
Then a test driver introduced us to the car. It was a V10 5.2 FSI, with 525 BHP doing 0-100km in just 3.9 seconds. He explained us about the electronics of the car, pointed out a couple of issues and just wished us…to enjoy as much as possible!
The cars were flown from Ingolstadt and had German plates on. (That is what the “IN” stands for on the number plates). They were flown in in just for this event solely. I felt very lucky! I felt very privileged.
I entered the driver’s seat and tried to fix and … glue my body on the car’s seat. I tested the steering wheel. I gently put my foot on the throttle and just slightly heard the car’s roar…
Once the first car of the convoy started, I put the first gear and followed for a short and slow (not more than 80kms) drive.
I felt my blood pressure rise. Drops of sweat were created under my armpits and I could feel my right foot slightly tremble on the throttle. I used the steering wheel to warm up the tires – juts like the initial round on a F1 race – and then one I got hold of the car the race was on!We drove as fast as we could, making sure, though, not to overtake the car in front of us. On a straight line I pressed hard on the throttle making my back ache when…hitting the driver’s seat.
On a hair pain I would just let the throttle and then press hard on it to make the back of the car oversteer. After some time I would just not even slow in the hair pin entrance and just press on the throttle.
The car would just handle beautifully. The anxiety of the car oversteering (or even understeering) would give its place to burst of laughter, rivers of sweat draining down under my armpits, a twist on the back at the head’s base, and just utter orgasm!
The last round I gave it all. The car is able to correct the driver’s error and as I started being part of the car I drove the best I could.
When we slowed down I just opened the window and let the air cool down my face and body,
I exited the car and just could not speak without making an exclamation remark every three words my mouth would try to mumble!
The event ended there. We kept our badges and caps and slowly made our way back home – feet trembling, hearts pumping, minds travelling to the outer space of R8.
It was a thrilling event!