One week ago Mr. Gumbatron's creative director Lex Mak was invited to join Mercedes-Benz Australia to enjoy the first event for the 'Festival of AMG' this year year down at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. The 'Festival of AMG' is a series of advance driving events held exclusively for their AMG customers.
This was a 5 star (3-point) experience like no other, upon arriving at Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit, one of the worlds best race circuits, you can't help but notice the presence of 30 plus current model Mercedes-Benz AMG vehicles orderly lined up in pit lane ready for our disposal. There was just one minor catch; that there would only be the four of us on the track enjoying the 5.3km long circuit in these 'brand new' vehicles!
A tailored program curated by Mercedes-Benz Australia’s Chief Driving Instructor Peter Hackett, prepared us for an adrenaline filled day of driving. As the day progressed, so did our driving confidence and our abilities to navigate the track with greater precision. We were provided with professional and personalised coaching by a team of world class racing driving instructors (including the late racing legend Peter Brock's son James Brock).
To begin the day, we entered the pit lane garages which were given the Mercedes Benz touch, and now resembled more of a first class airport lounge than a race car garage, with a cafe area, plush carpets, mood lighting as well as big screen TV's with AMG marketing material and a flagship V-12 SL-55 AMG sports convertible was also on display. You wont find any oil spills or loose tools lying around here.
After a formal briefing by Peter Hackett, we headed straight for the track to learn about and experience the safety + technology features of the AMG 'limousine' fleet (Bi Turbo V-8 S-63 AMG coupe & the Naturally aspirated V-12 S-500 AMG). Through simulating real world driving scenarios we first hand tested out the AMG technology features including the Distronic Plus (GPS guided cruise control) and automatic braking features used to avoid collisions at high speeds (45km/h).
A skip-pan session then followed in one of my personal favourite vehicles the Mercedes Benz C-63 S AMG. where we were encouraged to drift and 'hoon' a brand new $200K C-Class AMG with and without ESP control. The full brute of the 4.0 litre V-8 (503 HP) engine and the the menacing torque on tap was felt as we were thrown into the back of our seats with every modest tap of the throttle as we drifted in the simulated wet area.
The smaller 4 cylinder turbo charged A-45 and CLA-45 AMG's were next up, we got the adrenaline pumping as we exited pit lane with race start (launch control) engaged. Under the coaching of a professional driving instructor we familiarised ourselves with the circuit and most importantly the braking points and apexes of the circuit over a couple laps in both the hatch and sedan model AMG's, this had us all smiling over a hearty lunch with key members from the AMG division of Mercedes Benz Australia.
After lunch, we got back on the circuit for 20min sessions around the course in the larger 8 and 12 cylinder models, beginning with the twin-turbo V-8 c63 S AMG which was a dream around the circuit, with more power and toque as well as a tighter chassis and notably higher performance brakes. We then put helmets on and stepped it up a few notches, taking out the menacing sleeper 500HP E63 AMG, SL-55 AMG roadster and the long wheel based S-63 AMG Grand Tourer.
With our driving confidence and knowledge of the track at its peak, we then had the opportunity of 3 laps in the 503-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 AMG GT-S Super car, It was a completely difference experience all together, The AMG GT-S is arguably one of the closest race car experiences you can get in a road car.
The day concluded in one the most adrenaline filled moments that I can remember, we headed back to pit lane and swapped seats with our professional race driving instructors as they took us for 2 hot laps around the Philip Island circuit. I was speechless even after driving the exact same car around the exact same circuit only minutes earlier. I can only dream about how the Mercedes Benz AMG GT-3 Race car performs and sounds.
View the gallery of the day below:
Mr. Gumbatron was joined by D-marge, Mens Style and The Tailored Man for this intimate & exclusive AMG track-day (Levels 1/2/3). We all could not wipe the smiles off our faces even during the following days.
Many thanks to Mercedes-Benz Australia for having us along for the day, after a long and fun day at the track. the drive back to Melbourne on public roads proved to be challenging, we recommend taking the helicopter back to Melbourne, which the team at Mercedes Benz will kindly arrange for you as an option on the day.
For more information on the Festival of AMG or to book your spot for the next event, visit Festival of AMG
Festival of AMG Events
AMG Performance Level 1
AMG Evolution Level 2
AMG Pro Level 3
AMG European Tour
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