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He says, she says – Individual Coaching.

One event, two points of view. She’s a driving instructor and keen on safety. He’s a baker with an eye for performance. Doreen gave Anton a one-on-one coaching session at the Mercedes-Benz Driving Events.

Text: Jenny Buchholz | Photos: Dennis Pernath

Their love of fast cars.

Anton Filser is up at the crack of dawn and is busy from six o’clock onwards making the dough for his crumb and marble cakes. “Our business has expanded quickly: three years ago we had maybe 50 customers a day, now we get as many as 500 coming in on Saturdays. That’s why the process takes quite a few hours – after all, I can only make five cakes at a time.” While Anton is busy in the Café Emilo in Munich every day, Doreen Seidel is constantly on the move. In the course of a week she might travel from Austria to Belgium and then on to the Nürburgring. “As an instructor, I always have a really full schedule. The summer season runs from April through November, and then we gradually start getting ready for the winter season, which begins in January. But that’s exactly what I like about it – getting to know new people and places with the team.” One thing the confectioner and the driving instructor do have in common, though, is their love of fast cars. While Doreen is also a part-time racing driver, Anton dreams of owning a Mercedes-AMG. “But I could also imagine having a sporty G-Class”, he admits after a moment’s thought, “even though I’ve never even had a test drive in one…”

Doreen.

If their car really gets into a skid on an icy road, many drivers make mistakes – simply because they get frightened. It’s easy for me to practice situations like this with the course participants here; the worst thing that can happen to them is that they knock over a traffic cone or two. My groups have no more than ten participants, so I can drive each part of the track with them and explain what each stage has in store for them and which particular situation in everyday driving the individual manoeuver is going to help them with. Then two participants head out in each car, while I stand at the side of the track with a radio and give them feedback on what they’re doing. The exercises build on one another. A slalom and brake test is a good warm-up for the hands and feet. During the afternoon we combine braking and steering, while increasing the speed. Avoiding an obstacle at 120 km/h (75 mph) takes a bit of doing. As an instructor, I try to teach drivers how to react properly in a tricky situation – otherwise even the best electronic safety systems won’t be of any help. At the end of the course the participants are safer drivers… and pretty exhausted, too, because they do a lot of driving. Even though they don’t move about a lot, pushing themselves to their limits all through the day and concentrating on the right spot during the high-speed manoeuvers is very demanding. I was always a bit of an adrenalin junkie myself. That’s down to the fact that I grew up near the Sachsenring racing circuit. Now I’m a racer myself, in the GT4 European Series. Before each race I go to London to spend one or two days on a racing simulator: that helps me far more than practicing with my basic model at home.

Anton.

My father used to take part in motor races, so I grew up with a love of speed. Anything which has lots of horsepower has always appealed to me. So my first thought before the Driving Event was: “Hey, I hope I’ll have the chance to get behind the wheel of an AMG during the training session.” The size of the practice area in Leipheim was pretty impressive. On our first lap all I could see was a forest of pylons, marker flags, and water pipes. But as soon as Doreen had explained the manoeuvers that were required, I was able to make out the course clearly amid all the confusion. We drove round in an E-Class, which really blew me away. From the outside it looks pretty bulky, but it’s an incredibly easy and sporty car to drive. Just how agile it is, I realized in the very first exercise, when I had to brake going round a corner. That’s easier said than done – slamming on the brakes in a situation like that is something you really have to force yourself to do initially. I had to train myself to look the right way, too: in corners you need to look where you want to go, or you’ll end up running wide. Next up was the slalom, which was pretty crazy. Without the professional presentation we were given, I would have sent the cones flying, but it was all great fun. My day of one-on-one coaching with Doreen really impressed me. In day-to-day driving you just don’t get the chance to practice dealing with dangerous situations. So I hope I’ll be able to make good use of what I’ve learned today on the road.

Some of the things are quite basic, and you’d never think about them – like how to hold the steering wheel correctly. I reckoned I was an expert, but then Doreen showed me that I was holding my hands much too close to each other. When the day was nearly over, I was able to drive another lap in a C-Class Coupe. Sheer bliss!

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