Porsche Media Driving Academy: Rookie day with some PorschesPOSTED BY Vishal Bhaskaran ON 19 June 2015
Back to basics with Porsche Media Driving Academy
What do you do when you’re presented with an all-Porsche lineup consisting of a Macan, Panamera S, Cayenne S E-hybrid, Cayman GTS, 911 GTS cabriolet, and 911 turbo? If you’re anything like me the first thing you’ll do is look to the sky above and thank whoever is upstairs for the life that allows you to – in turn – take each and every one of these cars around a track.
The Bira Circuit about an hour and a half north of Bangkok was the scene for the first level of an organised programme, dubbed the Porsche Media Driving Academy, to train journos from a wide scope of publication material and genres on the basics of car control. And we mean the absolute basics.
The three levels of the programme are Individual, Professional and Elite. The idea is for participants to attend all three in order, collecting the necessary experience and technical understanding to be able to maximise the use of these impressive cars, both on the track and off it and hopefully, do them justice in our reviews going forward.
Exercises for the day included steering under ABS, a simple slalom, and a drag-and-braking challenge. A midday downpour threatened to retire the cars — and the events — for the rest of the afternoon but some quick thinking on the part of the driving instructors — Admi Shihrul and Leo Wong — allowed the media to enjoy some convoy driving around the circuit while waiting for it to dry up.
The lessons came fast and hard, Admi in particular chided me for clipping curbs which you supposedly shouldn’t be doing when they are slick from rain. We also realised, as a group, that when the speed was was way down we were able to hit the braking and turning points perfectly, going around the circuit in the assortment of Porsches like a synchronised dance of sorts.
When the pace picked up however, and mind you we were being led by a two-tonne Cayenne which was being driven beautifully by one of the trainers the line stretched like an accordion and widened out as well. There are no shortcuts to getting the racing line right at higher speeds, just practice, practice and more practice.
In the drag race, it was a bit of a surprise to see a Cayman GTS sitting side-by-side with a Cayenne. Surely the weight disadvantage would leave the Cayenne in the dust? The magic of electric motor assistance, specifically for torque, however made the race an even match all the way to the end which is where the actual lesson was waiting for us. Both cars had to brake in a box at the end of the strip, and unsurprisingly the Cayenne overshot the box by a few car lengths.
The lesson was all too clear. “You should always be mindful of weight when you drive a different car. The Cayenne might be nimble for a car of its size but you can’t fight physics. Basically, the heavier the car, the bigger the distance you should keep from the car ahead,” said Leo.
The Media Driving Academy achieved many things over the course of our two days in Bangkok, for us in particular it was a chance at building up some confidence — and some skill, if the lessons stick — in handling modern performance cars while strengthening the rapport between Porsche Asia Pacific and journalists of the region.
My own overwhelming feeling was one of wanting to steal the Cayman GTS and drive straight home with it, look out for this superbly-balanced mid-engined machine when it launches officially in Malaysia in the near future.
Porsche Classic in South East Asia
Up until our trip to Bangkok, Porsche Centre Bangkok had been the only Porsche showroom in the region with a Porsche Classic restoration unit. The display car changes from time to time, we had the pleasure of getting up close with the beautiful 1974 911 RS 3.0 — well, as close as you can get with protective tape around it.
Porsche Classic certification is not given out to just any dealership, requirements are strict and technicians must be properly certified to carry out restorations. At the moment, classic air-cooled Porsches are trending in classic car circles — the RS pictured above is valued at over two million Euros — so nows the time to bring out that dusty long-forgotten project Porsche and restore it to its former glory, if not as an investment then simply to put it back on the road where it deserves to be.