Join Date: Oct 2001
County: Australian Capital Territory
ABS brakes, driver training and an oversteering 147
I did a defensive driving course today, run by local race/rally driver Rick Bates. It included emergency breaking, skid control on the skid pan and laps of a road circuit. While much of the theory was familiar, I did get the opportunity to stress the 147 in a way that I normally don't on the road.
A few observations:
The braking ability of the 147 was remarked upon by the instructors, including the high threshold before the ABS kicks in. And just how well behaved the car is while doing lane changes while under maximum braking. It's only when you have to do this, you realise just how good ABS is.
On the skid pan, I got to experience both terminal understeer and oversteer (via my hand brake being pulled on randomly by the instructor). I really quite enjoyed lapping around the skidpan, the VDC tried its best, but it was no match for the handbrake or excessive power in these conditions. The 147 was fun to punt around in such conditions, and I could have happily run around for a few more laps.
The road circuit was a typical two lane Australian country road, that wound up and down a side of a steep hill. I took the opportunity to go a little feral, touching just over 150 kmh at the end of the straight before going to an uphill sweeping left hander, that tightened as you went up the hill. Very satisfying, especially lifting of the tighten the line before I crested the hill. Certainly, the young guy in a Magna really enjoyed following me around.
So to sum up, the Alfa 147 ABS is very effective, despite what some may say. That was Rick Bate's opinion and as a professional race/rally driver, he should know. His opinion of the 147 was that it was very "surefooted". And me, I learned a few new techniques. Next step, some more high performance training and then AROCA supersprints.