Once you get bitten by the bug, you really start to really think about a lot of other things. Yup, that is right. Last year I had an opportunity to drive on the track at Sepang International Circuit. It was an open track day and the prices were extremely steep!
I was surrounded by 4-5 track cars which included 3 Porsche who were testing their cars for the Porsche GT3 cup. Of course I wasn’t alone with my normal road car as there were other people from my group of friends as well as other track enthusiasts.
They say driving on the track is like the first time you are having sex. You build up all that anticipation for that first time but the moment you are put up to the plate, you tend to fumble around figuring out what to do. That was pretty much how my first lap went.
I had no idea what a racing line was as well as where in the world should I brake and start turning my car. Of course it didn’t help that other cars were a lot faster and I couldn’t keep up with them and follow their lines.
But it was at that moment I learned that I was crap as a driver. Seriously crap. I bet every kid who just passed his driving exam thinks that they are the next formula 1 champion but the moment I started driving on the track, I realised that I am rather pampered. Pampered with fancy electronic gizmos like traction control, ABS brakes and an automatic gearbox, learning how to drive, takes real skill.
Then I signed up for a couple of courses, first one was a private course taught by some great car coaches at SpeedCity which was organized by a friend. Spent a whole day learning about the car’s characteristics and burned off two tyres. Then I joined both the Advanced and Intensive drivers training.
Even after those courses, I knew that there was a lot more that I can learn about the car and how to control it. I learned that slow is fast and that precision and stamina means a lot. Smooth saves your tyres and gives you a quick time and different braking techniques destroys your tyres.
As I reflect back on one of my few earlier attempts at Sepang, I am glad that my track times have dropped significantly, from 3mins 15secs to 2mins 49secs. Optimally I know I should hit 2mins 47secs but I will target for a 2mins 45secs time this year.