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A day driving on a track really shows up the flaws and inconsistencies in our driving abilities, and gives us a unique opportunity to learn and get better.

11 Jul 2018


As automotive journalists, we all like to think that we're pretty good drivers. After all, driving is literally our job. However, such delusions of grandeur are quickly dispelled at a race track - driving on a circuit quickly and definitively shows up the many flaws in our driving abilities, no matter how good (or in most cases, bad) we actually are.

As part of Porsche's Media Driving Academy, I headed up to Sepang International Circuit to get behind the wheel of a slew of Porsches (16 models in total), and here are five key lessons I've learnt.

A mid-engine car like the 718 has a very different balance in corners compared to a rear-engine 911
1. Understand the car

Every car's different dynamic characteristics are made much more stark at a track, and it's vital you understand it. On normal roads, you wouldn't be wrong in thinking that most Porsches feel the same cruising at 90km/h.

However, this is absolutely not true on the track. The balance of a mid-engine 718 is entirely different from a rear-engine 911. Understanding the car, and adjusting your driving style accordingly, makes you a better driver.

It is only by being brave and pushing your limits do you begin to understand the cars better and exploit their full potential
2. Be brave, but not too brave

At a track, you have to be brave and push your limits. If you don't, you're never going to learn and improve. Whether it's flicking the car harder on the Moose test or taking a tighter line through fast corners, a track day is all about finding ways to improve your driving abilities by focusing on the details.

Of course, don't be foolish - carrying excessive speed into a slow corner is never going to end well. You don't want to end up stuck in a gravel trap. 

Driving on a track is all about finding a rhythm and being smooth through corners
3. Find your rhythm

Driving on a track is all about smoothness and rhythm. Driving fast in a straight line is easy - you just have to put your foot down. However, learning to connect corners and learning the proper racing lines take time and concentration.

It's all about rhythm - your actions in one corner impact what happens in the next one. The ability to drive smoothly separates an average driver from a good one. 

Get on the throttle too early in a rear-wheel drive car like a 911, and you are definitely going to light up the rear wheels
4. Be patient

Driving on a track will always involve some level of frustration, especially when you make mistakes. But patience is key - instead of getting flustered and trying to be overly aggressive (which will result in even more mistakes), just try again on your next run.

With the different training exercises we had, we had multiple attempts, with the instructors guiding us to improve on each and every run. And, don't be too greedy on the throttle either. Remember, smooth is fast.

Making mistakes is part and parcel of learning, just remember that you want to have fun as well! 
5. Have fun

Mistakes happen, but don't dwell on them too much. It's okay to spin (I ended up on the grass once). But that's part and parcel of the experience. We aren't professional drivers after all, and these mistakes help us to be better. And in fact, Sepang is a very forgiving track (with lots of runoff), so it's a great place to make mistakes.

Remember that you still want to have fun. Have a laugh, hope that your friend caught it on video, and you all can have a great laugh about it later over some beers.

The Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia is now the home for the Porsche Experience Centre (PEC) in the Asia Pacific region. Here, a fleet of 16 different Porsche models are available. Additionally, the highly exclusive GT3 Cup Experience was introduced due to high demand from customers. It is the highest level of Porsche Experience programmes, now offered for the first time by Porsche Asia Pacific. It involves driving a 911 GT3 Cup race car with one-to-one instruction.

If you are interested in experiencing Porsche cars on the track, you can sign up for programmes at PEC Sepang. To find out more, visit www.porsche.com/experienceAPAC.
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