Investing in a supercar is a big deal. What if you could really get a feel for a car without having to buy it first and hone your driving skills at the same time? Well step up Maserati and their Master Maserati driving courses in Italy.
I was invited to experience their Master Premium course at the Varano circuit near Parma. Firstly, I would like to mention the calibre of instructors. Ranging from former World Rally Championship winning drivers to current GT racing stars, they help you get the best from the cars and yourself. The key to getting the most out of a course like this is to build your speed slowly and listen to the instructors, they are there to help you and if you show you are listening, they will soon get you pushing yourself.
Day one started with a theory lesson where guests were talked through how important it is to make sure you are sat in the optimum driving position. In brief this means, arms bent and hands at a 9.15 position. Your right foot should be resting between the brake and accelerator so that you can quickly move between the two pedals. Timing is everything when driving fast. The distance covered in one second at 120mph is the difference between making the corner and not making the corner!
In the afternoon my group heads over to the kick plate. This device will randomly ‘kick’ the rear of the car left or right as you drive onto a simulated ice road surface. Using instinct and reaction you have to catch the slide. Approaching at 25mph the key is to not think and let your body react, thinking time means you are generally too late to catch the slide, after a few goes I am itching for more.
I head over to the ‘Power Pendulum’ this is a coned off course with a water spray. Using just first gear I provoke the rear of the car with a jab of the throttle and then catch the slide, the rear will then swing back the other way through momentum, another jab of throttle and then feathering of the throttle sees the car gracefully sliding out of the turn. I have made it sound easy, it’s not! But when you do master it, it feels great. By now my brain cannot take in anymore and thankfully it’s time for dinner.
The next morning we are quickly straight back out on track. Back to back track sessions with video footage and telemetry are rounded off with hot laps by an instructor in a MC Stradale. Wow, very fast, very sideways and always in complete control, while I have learnt a lot in a few days I realise there is plenty to learn!
Next up is the GT track challenge, a very tight coned circuit which you drive in second gear. There is a mixture of wet and dry surfaces and you have ten laps to put down your best time… I came third, 27.80 seconds, the winner scored a time of 27.72 seconds. Maybe next year!
Finally to round off the course I head out on track on my own following a pace car driven by the instructor. It’s a funny feeling being allowed out on your own but I quickly focus on the task in hand and try to keep my set distance from the instructor. In a flash my laps are over and that is the end of the course.
With accommodation the course is €3,700 plus flights. I have come away from the course feeling a lot more confident about driving and understanding handling. Track time was ample with many sessions in a variety of cars from the Maserati range. I am sure if you were interested in a specific model you could perhaps focus in on that car.
To drive supercars hard without the worry of paying for tyres, brakes and servicing is worth the money alone. On top of that you are being taught by world-famous racing drivers who share their knowledge to help you improve and get faster. If you are considering buying a new car, I would highly recommend investing in a driving course if they offer one. Needless to say, I have since been looking through the classifieds for a second-hand Maserati Gran Turismo!
About the Author
Tim Hutton has been involved in the automotive industry for 17 years, creating ideas and content for premium brands. When not writing about cars, you will find him driving them all around the world. Having learned to drive at seven in a racing car, petrol is very much in his veins.