Day Three: Friday, January 19, 2001

This is a special day for Dutch Audi adepts in The Netherlands: today's the day that the new A4 is released in the showrooms nationwide. The fact that I drove it the day before everyone else in my country gives me a warm feeling, or perhaps its just the seat heating.

08:00 There's no time to waste. Today we're on to some serious training. The schedule is tight, and we'll get a special treat: after lunch we will drive on a large circuit, competing with each other on timed laps.

Have you ever found out how you can get your all-wheel drive Audi into a powerslide? I know what you would answer. But how would you answer if I told you that you may NOT use the handbrake?! It is quite complex to explain how you can manage that. It's a combination of tricks. If you really want to know how to do it, enlist in an Audi Driving Experience training course. We learned it first thing in the morning!

The new A4's are also modified for the training. In the accompanying photos, you can see that on the left side of the dashboard, two switches were mounted to deactivate the ESP and ABS systems. I also noted that the handle for the lights of the car has vanished in the redesigned A4. Instead, a turning knob, as in the Audi TT and Volkswagen models has replaced it. The aluminum rings around the tach and speedo are classy, though they look more at home in the TT.

In the morning, we are freezing as we stand outside the cars, listening to the instructors. This minor inconvenience was all compensated for when, after lunch, the sun came out and blanketed the circuit as we began our showdown - going for that fastest lap. But before all that, we had to perform an isle slalom, with the help of powerslides. This was very difficult.

The afternoon was definitely the climax of the trip. It was spectacular to see some of the contestants maneuver on the ice. One member managed to park his A4 in the virtual parking space (marked with four blue pylons) backwards, making use of an 180-degree powerslide! That was something the instructors said they would remember for a long, long time.

15:00 Alas, all good things must come to an end. We made a quick return to the hotel in order to receive our diplomas and receive a couple of farewell words before we were back on the bus to Munich.

22:00 It is 10pm when I'm back at Shiphol Airport, Amsterdam. My girlfriend picks me up - with our A4 quattro. God, it feels safe being driven home in such a car, especially when it's snowing out there and the temperature drops below freezing point.

Note: Also included with this story is a wallpaper: a non-edited hi-res color picture at 2048x1536 pixels. Looking back at the pictures I'm seriously considering going to Finland next year and have another Audi Driving Experience! So, enjoy the photo's and perhaps we'll meet each other on the ice lakes in Scandinavia...

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