JEET ENGINE

This petrol­head has grad­u­ated from the fi­nal, Elite stage of Porsche Me­dia Driv­ing Academy at Sepang.

Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - SARJEET SINGH

THIS event was the third in­stal­ment of Porsche Me­dia Driv­ing Academy (PMDA).

I started the jour­ney back in 2016 when I was in­tro­duced to the first level of de­fen­sive driv­ing called “In­di­vid­ual”. Last year, I be­came a “Pro­fes­sional” af­ter I suc­cess­fully com­pleted the sec­ond tier.

This year, I was to be­come an “Elite” driver. Hav­ing not fin­ished in the top three po­si­tions for the past two at­tempts, I was third time lucky. Yes, I fi­nally did it and was first! In a way…

I had prepped my­self for the 2018 event. Last year, I was again slow in the slalom be­cause I was wear­ing sneak­ers in lieu of my trusty Puma driv­ing shoes, which had to be con­signed to the karang guni man. The re­ward for be­com­ing a PMDA Pro­fes­sional in 2017 was a timely pair of OMP Porsche driv­ing shoes to take home. I donned them for the very first time that Tues­day af­ter­noon two months ago when I left for the air­port to Kuala Lumpur. I was smart enough to know the footwear needed break­ing-in be­fore the next day’s main event. I was run­ning out of ex­cuses if I did not win any­thing again. We stayed at Sama-Sama Ho­tel for the third year in a row and I felt at home. So, I did not feel com­pelled to cus­tom­ar­ily look for dead bod­ies un­der my bed (it hap­pened in the 1990s in a Bangkok ho­tel to a friend of a friend of my sis­ter, and since then, I al­ways look un­der my bed in ev­ery ho­tel room I stayed). That evening, we were whisked to Sepang – not for any night rac­ing, but for din­ner in the Porsche suite.

The high­light of the sump­tu­ous oc­ca­sion was the un­veil­ing of the $1.2 mil­lion Porsche 911 GT2 RS.

I kindly of­fered to sell my kid­ney for the same amount, but no one there needed one.

I dined on some of the juici­est bar­be­cued beef un­til my teeth ached. I could not re­mem­ber if I should carbo-load for the next day, so I erred on the side of cau­tion – I only had one small serv­ing of mash, plus a few beers for their cool­ing prop­er­ties.

Af­ter din­ner, we re­turned to Sama-Sama Ho­tel and ar­rived at around 10pm. It was 40 min­utes later than the other van of journos.

Our driver had missed a turn, and in Malaysia, that means trav­el­ling about 20 kilo­me­tres on the high­way to the next exit for a U-turn. Ev­ery­one on board blamed me

HAV­ING NOT FIN­ISHED ON THE PMDA PODIUM FOR MY PAST TWO AT­TEMPTS, I FI­NALLY DID IT AND WAS FIRST THIS YEAR – I WAS THE FIRST TO BE PHOTOGRAPHED WHEN WE AR­RIVED AT SEPANG.

for dis­tract­ing the driver be­cause I struck up a con­ver­sa­tion with him. Now I know he lives out­side Kuala Lumpur, has a girl­friend and hopes to have two kids (he did not say if it was af­ter mar­riage).

As I lux­u­ri­ated on the el­e­gant white-sheet bed in my room, I con­tem­plated if I should watch Eng­land play Columbia in the World Cup quar­ter-fi­nals at two in the morn­ing on the telly.

I then heard noises from un­der my bed! Thank god I was mis­taken – they were only groans echo­ing in my stom­ach, I was hun­gry. So I rushed down to the con­ve­nience store be­fore it closed. I grabbed a cup of tom yam in­stant noo­dles, two bot­tles of or­ange juice and a Mag­num ice cream.

I al­most had a my­ocar­dial in­farc­tion when the cashier said “27 ring­git”.

I sur­vived the would-be heart at­tack when I con­verted it to Sing dol­lars. I should have added one more cup noo­dles and an­other Mag­num!

I wit­nessed Eng­land beat Columbia in the penalty shootout. It was 5am. I went to bed for two hours, but never felt fresher when I woke up. Eupho­ria should be a banned sub­stance. On our way to Sepang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit later that morn­ing, I re­fused to speak to our van driver.

At the race­track, I thought I tack­led all the ex­er­cises in var­i­ous Porsches with aplomb.

“Throt­tle Steer­ing” at the sweep­ing Turn 5 was a piece of cake. I was screech­ing the tyres of a Targa 4 GTS in “Trail Brak­ing” at Turns 12 to 14 like a drift pro (but I later found out it was not a drift­ing ex­er­cise). My in­struc­tor com­mended me for my calm­ness in the dra­matic, grav­i­ta­tional swing­ing, left-and-right swerve Moose Test in a Cay­man GTS and then in a 911 Turbo.

He said that I was a very good driver!

Af­ter my cus­tom­ary light lunch, I raced to­wards my cho­sen weapon, a Mi­ami Blue Porsche 911 GT3, for some track driv­ing. I was be­hind the lead in­struc­tor, which meant I could only be as fast as him.

What a pre­ci­sion driv­ing ma­chine the GT3 is!

The steer­ing is scalpel-sharp, the power de­liv­ery is sub­lime, and the chas­sis com­mu­ni­cates with you, unlike a wife.

It makes for the per­fect track car, which is also at home in a Fri­day evening traf­fic jam in the CBD.

Later that af­ter­noon, Porsche Car­rera Cup Asia driver Will Bam­ber asked me if he could give me a ride in his GT3 Cup car. I obliged.

I talked through him my rac­ing lines as we went around the cir­cuit, but on the straights, he was faster by about 25km/h than I was in the GT3 – thanks only to his Cup race­car, of course.

I then thought I should in­form Marc Beil, Porsche Asia Pa­cific’s event mar­ket­ing man­ager, that I was avail­able for hire as a Porsche driv­ing in­struc­tor. I await his call.

Cer­tifi­cates were handed out to each grad­uand at the end of the event day by my now-friend and lead in­struc­tor, Matthias Hoff­suem­mer. He whis­pered in my ear that I did very well. Aha! I was go­ing home with a tro­phy!

Three names were called out to the podium for Most Con­sis­tent Driver, Most Im­proved Driver and Best Driver. I stood there watch­ing them with their win­ners’ wreaths and cham­pagne bot­tles.

I did not lie that I was first – I was the first to be photographed when we ar­rived at Sepang that morn­ing.

SARJEET’S RAC­ING GEAR IS NOW COM­PLETE WITH GLOVES, DRIV­ING SHOES AND HELMET, BUT HE’LL ONLY GET HIS RAC­ING SUIT IF HE EVER BE­COMES A PORSCHE DRIV­ING IN­STRUC­TOR.

It was a good day at school for this “Elite” stu­dent, who hopes to be­come an in­struc­tor next – if he ever gets the call from Porsche Asia Pa­cific.

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