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Cayenne Register Off-Road Driver Training (Aug 2008)

Couch Potato Turned Captain Courageous

It was always going to be a big ask…forfeiting the pleasures of coffee, Sunday brunch and an afternoon nap for a day of bush bashing in the mud, gravel and rain. It was billed as a way to really get to know the capabilities of my beloved (Cayenne S) and with some trepidation I signed up for the 4WD Off Road Driver Training Day at the Anglesea Automotive Research Centre (owned by Lindsay Fox).

Sunday 10th of August dawned grey, wet and numbingly cold (5 degrees & less with windchill!). As we drove towards the Anglesea Automotive Research Centre, just off the Great Ocean Road, I wondered if any other true believers would brave the elements and join us. By 9.30am my doubts were allayed as four couples huddled around a fire, caffeine in hand, keen to get underway.

Our instructor Adrian Du Jardin started the day with an abbreviated classroom session laying out the basics of 4WD design including differentials, low range, traction control, ABS and PSM. Previously this knowledge had been secret men’s business so it was great to finally discover what all those fancy buttons in the middle console actually did, and better still, be given permission to use them!!

Soon enough, with the Cayenne’s tyres deflated, in low range gear and suspension cranked up to maximum height, I found myself at the base of a very steep, slippery, rugged slope. Shortly thereafter I found myself at the top of the hill after a rapid, powerful, wheel-spinning ascent. My heart was leaping out of my chest as the adrenaline swept through my body. The descent was just as exciting and handled beautifully by the Cayenne in full engine braking mode.

After repeating the circuit a few times with both drivers in control we soon gained enough confidence for Adrian to guide us on some of the bush tracks that run through this 2000-hectare property.

Wet conditions over the preceding 24 hours had made the bush tracks more difficult to negotiate but with Adrian’s guidance and the power and capability of the Cayenne engine the entire crew made it back to base for a picnic lunch. After this refuelling stop and some impromptu practising of fitting snow chains we were ready for round two.

The afternoon saw the Cayennes mastering the uphill, downhill and mogul circuit. A highlight was the crossing of Peakes Pond. Tim and Leanne made the first water crossing and when they emerged unscathed at the far bank we decided to follow. It’s a nerve-wracking experience to realise that one tablespoon of water in your engine will stop it in its tracks but I was more concerned about it pouring in through the doors or floor. Needless to say all my fears were groundless and we negotiated the water with ease, emerging with weed wrapped around our rear axles. Our day ended with a convoy through some bush trails exploring some fairly harsh terrain, a million miles from the supermarket car park, which is said to be the normal stomping ground of the Cayenne breed!!

I emerged from this experience exhilarated, empowered and awed by my amazing 4WD. Thanks to all who got down & dirty on the day with special thanks to James Winder (register captain) and Adrian for organising a great event.

Mrs Captain Courageous (Melissa Mills)

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