RS3 Owners’ Meet 14th April 2013
“It’s better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.” – Alan Watts, 1915-73 philosopher, writer, speaker.
Life is about creating great experiences that live with you a lifetime which is why I’ve chosen the Alan Watt’s quote to open this article. Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away. Owning a great car then is surely about what you do with that car, the places you travel and the memories that are made. This RS3 meet was all about enjoying great moments in these exceptional cars. I hope to convey some of the excitement of this meet to you through these written words, pictures and some short videos.
Feel This Moment – Audi RS3 Owners’ Meet The Video Story.
If you prefer to see the meet in a 3 minute picture and video montage here it is. This video has what I think is an appropriate music track for the event. There are plenty of other clips from the day on YouTube with just the angry 5 pot growl if you prefer that.
Ruthin Castle – The Meet Location
“The first rule of RS3 club is you do not talk about RS3 club.”
Luckily rule one only applies until after the event, otherwise this would be a short article. After a long build up to a spring meet we might have expected a few April showers rather than the wintery scene and storms that would greet us at Ruthin Castle, North Wales. Ruthin is an ideal location for a meet, just a few miles from the iconic evo triangle often seen in evo magazine and on Top Gear road tests. More about the triangle and the true test of any performance car those roads provide later. In the pouring rain we shook hands and faces were put to user names from the Audi Sport Net forum for the first time.
Ut Victoriam Per Quattro
There had been some discussion about exactly what to call a group of RS3’s and popular consensus arrived at a ‘Squadron’. If such an RS3 Squadron did truly exist it would surely have the motto Ut Victoriam Per Quattro (Through Quattro To Victory) as it is in this true quattro weather where the RS3 excels.
The military analogy holds up well given the secrecy and meticulous detail the event was planned in by our leader for the day robbiemac. For those who haven’t met Robbie he is, as you’d expect owning an RS3 a dashing fellow, with a mischievous sharp humour that is best described as a cross between wee Jimmy Krankie and Frankie Boyle. Robbie did a great job selecting Ruthin Castle as the meeting point with plenty of room in the overflow car park for these initial photos. GYG Karting on the A5 (part of the evo triangle) was the main event for the meet and that meant a 14 mile drive down the B5105 to get there.
“The best drive ever. I for one will never forget it, magic!” 45bvtc RS3 owner
The 14 mile B5105 run from Ruthin to Cerrigydrudion was the ideal start to the driving adventure. The road was running with water and offered only modest grip levels. Initially a little tight though the outer town walls of Ruthin this twisting and turning sinew of Welsh tarmac opens up nicely further on. It is great testament to the road that
several owners commented on just how much they had gelled and really started to understand the potential of their RS3’s from this one drive. The RS3 was built for the tightening corners over big drops and blind crests in conditions like this. There can be few better places than roads like this in Wales for a car with quattro heritage. A few short straights offer the opportunity to rifle up through the S-tronic gearbox, although the next corner and road conditions are far more the limiting factors than power.
We took point for this first section of road. A position often known as speed camera magnet on meets like these, it’s always best to remember just how visible 11 RS cars are! About half way along the road we stopped to take these pictures; the RS3 Squadron flypast. Listening to the other 10 cars thunder past was an aural treat, a couple had cat bypass fitted and were noticeably more bass in sound than the standard exhaust.
Another advantage of a wet day for a meet, not a single biker in sight.
What struck me most on this spirited run was the composure and balance of the RS3. With the ESP off you know exactly when you’ve reached the limit of grip as the RS3 turns in with the most delicious poised 4 wheel slide. This is just an engineered in signal to let you know that you’ve reached the limit of adhesion. You have 2 options here, a slight lift that brings the nose back into line, or a dab of throttle to wake up the Haldex differential and release a few degrees of rear wheel movement into play and push the RS3 out of the corner. Whichever option you chose the grip – slip – grip transition is always progressive and predictable.
Such intuitive handling characteristics breed great confidence allowing you to get back on the throttle earlier and harder, which is the RS3’s party piece, firing out of corners, squatting down at the rear and firing up the next short straight. All too soon though it’s time to press those might 370mm stoppers into action for the next corner and I’m delighted to say I didn’t hear one squeaky brake all day. For some this was the first time they’d experienced the RS3 sliding through wet off camber corners and by the size of their grins I could tell they’d enjoyed these moments. My missus was in the passenger seat and she could sense the composure of the RS3 “even in these conditions this car is just so sure footed”, indeed I had to agree.
“The black stuff is yours. The green stuff belongs to me” GYG Karting Owner.
Then we moved on to the Kart track itself for some static shots on the starting grid and with the impressive GYG Karting building in the background. Daytime Running Lights (DRL’s) on was the order of the day to light up the gloom.
The highlight of the day for me was the chance to drive our RS3s on this tight, technical, narrow and low grip go kart track which demanded full concentration with it’s almost constant turns.
Chasing 45bvtc around a lap at GYG Karting
Chasing 45btvc in his unique Cornflower blue RS3 were some of the most entertaining laps of the day and you get to see a lap from multiple perspectives.
‘Club Corner’ provided the opportunity to feel the truly awe inspiring grip and traction the RS3 can offer even through deep standing water. Only on a couple of the most rain affected lap did I need a minor lift to quell a neutral slide toward the edge of the track. Hook up at the apex to feel the quattro system moving power around the car.
Now, you fire full throttle up the short Dragon Straight, feeling the roll on performance of the 2.5TFSi engine while ripping through 2nd, and 3rd gears and just touching 4th before easing off and managing your speed for the Spoon.
‘The Spoon’ tightens on the exit and was a real test to get right in these conditions, carry too much speed and you find yourself quickly running out of track and toward the grass, too slow and you lose the momentum you need to fire down the next straight. Just a touch of understeer here seemed to be the telling point for having achieved the optimum line.
Next it’s time for a second brief squirt of acceleration for the approach to ‘The Carousel’, the slightly off camber hairpin. Undoubtedly the goldilocks corner on the track. Get this right, kissing both apex kerbs and you could feel the RS3 deliciously balanced on all four tyres. This corner dares you to push, wondering just where the limit is, pressing you deep into the bucket seat as the rear of the car goes slightly light in a neutral slide yet push as I did the RS3 never came unstuck.
The technical complex of corners through ‘Devils Elbow’ were the tightest and greasiest corners and ably demonstrated the agility of the RS3. Playing at low speed it was safe to turn in way too fast and see what happened. First the front will slide wide, the rear will attempt to correct on the throttle and as always the RS3 is easy to recover.
‘Paddock Bend’ ends the lap, use all the available track on entry and just touch the apex curb, avoiding the sharper painted exit cubs which were slippery and would just spin the momentum away. Finally a short burst of throttle, a big dab of brake and repeat until a wide grin stretches across your face…
Mr Freeze (left) makes his move. An overtake on the start/finish straight
The day remained wet and only I was foolish enough to want to get cold and wet by taking one of GYG’s excellent go karts out for a few laps. As Stephane (Wickedstef) said to me, “You are the biggest petrolhead I’ve met”, and there was I thinking I hid my enthusiasm for all things car based quite well!
The elevation changes on this track were much more pronounced in the kart, with much greater need to maintain momentum. Most kart tracks I’ve driven have been on level ground and the undulating track adds another dimension to the experience. I only get a limited amount of track miles per year and what I enjoy most is that there is always something new to learn, a different way to approach a corner, a new way to arrest a slide. With the kart on slicks chronic understeer gained a whole new level of meaning. Brake for the corner and turn in…nothing happens as I sail past the apex toward the waiting grass. Only one answer remains, full throttle to bring the tail in to play and use oversteer to point the kart back toward the exit, catch the slide and power through. Sheer, addictive, heart pounding fun.
Sometimes I caught the slide, sometimes I didn’t. Heading down into ‘The Carousel’ was the biggest challenge for the kart standing water running left to right across the braking point meant the kart was more skimming the surface than actually slowing down. As I got more confidence I carried more speed into the first apex, sliding neatly sideways, balancing the throttle toward the second apex…until that confidence was just a little too much and full lock and full throttle were not enough and I was suddenly facing where I’d just come from. Karts still offer one of the best ways to test your own limits at safe speeds. What a blast. I’d recommend GYG and the superb friendly attitude of the motorsport obsessed family who run it to anyone with the remotest interest in learning track skills.
Time to Go Home
For most of RS3 Squadron it was now time to go home and I’m told the journey back down the A5 was somewhat spirited. It was great to see 11 RS3 owners grinning from ear to ear, all had enjoyed the road driving, some had taken to the track others had created some superb pictures to help preserve those all important memories of the day. Robbie had done a great job of bringing people previously only linked by owning the same car together for a day I’m sure, as cars come and go, we will all remember.
A final thanks to all those who attended for sharing your many pictures and videos of the day, this article would not have been possible without them and I see this as very much our joint article.
I will though leave the final word to one of my fellow RS3 owners Vito:
“for me was the best motoring experience in my life but we all truly enjoyed the fun, and the RS3’s OMG !! they set the welsh tarmac on fire”
Well done Robbie lad, feedback doesn’t get much better than that! Roll on July and the next meet, I hope to see a few more RS3 owners there and create some more memorable experiences.
My day of driving fun wasn’t quite over yet though as I wanted another run around the iconic evo triangle. We had run this 21 mile route from Cerrigydrudion, Pentrefoelas the A543 and then B4501 back to Cerrigydrudion on Saturday in the pouring rain but by 3pm on Sunday the roads had finally begun to dry out. The evo triangle is a real test of the true all round ability of any sports car. There are long open straights to stretch the legs on the A5 but that’s far from the interesting most section. The first 2 miles of section up from Pentrefoleas to the A543/B4501 junction have limited visibility, are quite narrow and in the wet were extremely bumpy, testing the suspension travel of the RS3 to the limit. Caution was required; the grip was low, the white lines slippery and as this Aston found out the triangle can and will bite the unwary.
On Sunday this section was almost dry and much easier to drive as a result. The later section of the A543 and B4501 are much more open and the RS3 scythes through these open corners with remarkable ease. I like a car that makes me recalibrate my senses, makes me realise I am the limiting factor and the RS3 does just that, always able to offer just that bit more performance. Out here the RS3 is a joy, sucking in the horizon at an astonishing pace, the exhaust blaring with a ferocity befitting the quattro heritage. A great car is one where you feel part of the machine, flowing effortlessly with each input to the controls. The triangle was devoured all too quickly and I just wanted to go and drive it all over again.
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