Hard on the brakes I heel-toe and double down in the gears, executing Infineon Raceway's important Turn 11; a tight late-apex right-hander I had practiced repeatedly just an hour before. My EVO X GSR pushes hard toward the outside wall as I grab third and then fourth, changing over to the other wall at Turn 12 and blasting down the front straight, pushing above the 100 mph mark and heading straight into Turn 1. The track rises up before me like more of an asphalt wall than a hill, gravity working with the EVO's impressive AWD setup to keep the car balanced as I spy the apex of turn two and hammer the brakes.
Impressive? Yes! And I've only just described the front straight.
I'm at the Jim Russell Racing Driver's School Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Experience, a program the Japanese automaker hopes will not only allow enthusiasts and average Joes alike to experience just how capable and fun the latest EVO is, but to spread the word that despite its perception as a less hard-core machine than previous iterations, the X is the best EVO yet.
And they couldn't have chosen a better pairing than with Jim Russell, who's chief instructor, Paul Gerrard, is a veteran of racing past EVO models overseas and currently pilots the AMS-tuned EVO X in the Redline Time Attack series, where he took the Unlimited AWD Class Championship last year.
More: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Experience at the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School