Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Grand Experience; Punters Get a Chance to Sample the Melbourne Track

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Grand Experience; Punters Get a Chance to Sample the Melbourne Track

Article excerpt

Vital statistics

Where: Albert Park, Melbourne.

First grand prix: 1996

Circuit length: 5.303 km

Grand prix lap record: 1:24.125 - M Schumacher (2004)

By Grant Edwards

NOWHERE else in the world can you have this Formula 1 experience.

Hurtling down the straight at more than 200kmh it transforms the traditionally tranquil Albert Park in Melbourne's heart into a high-octane haven.

Sitting alongside racing instructors we were given no speed restrictions, but there was one warning: Get off the bitumen and onto the grass and you will not stop until you hit something.

Yet there is never a shortage of keen drivers for this exclusive outing - no other F1 track allows an event such as this.

Getting a seat to the Mercedes-Benz Festival of AMG Albert Park Challenge takes less skill than earning a F1 drive, but you need just as much luck.

The 90 spots (which cost $1100 each to this year's event) sold within 52 seconds.

Over 90 minutes drivers sample at least six cars. This year's line-up included $9.15Smillion worth of Mercedes-AMG muscle, including the baby A45 and CLA 45s, up to the V8 E63, CLS and C63 behemoths.

Invitations are sent to Benz's best customers and members of the AMG Club. A fraternity which is growing rapidly.

Last year saw about 10% of all Mercedes vehicles sold in Australia wear an AMG badge - the highest market uptake per capita in the world. Even well-heeled Aussies like their rides with some poke.

Options to join Festival of AMG events, which include experiences on the snow in New Zealand and cutting laps at Phillip Island, are part of the sporting three-pointed star package.

"Our AMG customers are enthusiasts. They like driving, they want to be better, they are self-motivating customers who are prepared to listen to experts to be better at anything they do," AMG Driving Academy head instructor Peter Hackett said. …

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