Fast, not furious: 4th edition of Porsche Media Driving Academy rolls out in Malaysia

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Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila

THE prime lesson for drivers of every skill level is pretty simple and straightforward: Confine racing ambitions to the track — not everyday streets. People can get hurt, or worse.

That out of the way, who doesn’t entertain visions of pulling off a masterful, Vettel-esque right- or left-hander where not much velocity is lost, then nailing the exit with aplomb? But pure, pedal-to-the-metal fast won’t slice it. In fact, go too quickly and risk ending up in the gravel or smacking the track wall. Truly, the PlayStation 4 game can never give the vehicle feedback or appropriate professional instruction needed.

So who in his or her right mind can turn down a chance to vastly increase driving proficiency — while at the wheel of some of the world’s most desirable sports cars?

German car maker Porsche, through its Asia-Pacific office, staged the fourth iteration of the Porsche Media Driving Academy (MDA) at the Porsche Experience Center in Sepang, Malaysia, a former stop of the Formula One series. Debuting at the Bira Circuit in Pattaya, Thailand, in 2015, the MDA “allows media to experience the maximum performance of Porsche cars through consecutive courses designed to sharpen driving skills with world-class Porsche instructors,” according to a Porsche statement.

Participating journalists from nine countries within the Porsche Asia Pacific (PAP) purview are cycled through three course levels: Individual, Professional, and Elite — gradually increasing their driving proficiency while having a greater appreciation of the performance potentials of Porsche vehicles.

This year’s staging highlighted the fact that PAP now has at its disposal 16 brand-new cars for its exclusive use through the MDA program and the Porsche Experience Center (open to the general public) — including high-specification variants such as the 718 Cayman GTS, 718 Boxster GTS, and the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, to more rarefied models like the 911 GT3.

In the Professional module, participants are taught how to tackle curves or bends, appreciate the physics of load change through an abrupt lane change (more commonly known as the “moose test”) and slalom maneuvers, and once again experience the incredible acceleration of Porsche vehicles — amply matched by commensurate stopping power.

Amid the full complement of safety technologies which basically allows for a latitude of driver errors, chief instructor Matthias Hoffsuemmer reminded that “any system cannot eliminate physics.” This means drivers are ultimately responsible for understanding how cars behave and how they should comport themselves when behind the wheel, particularly when trying to extract heightened performance.

The MDA also affords participants an opportunity to more closely inspect the track, and ascertain braking points and the apexes of turns — things better appreciated at the subsequent Elite portion of the program. This allowed greater application of sport-oriented driving through “trail-braking, controlled over-steering, and advanced driving on the track.”

Established in 2001, PAP currently oversees 12 economies from its Singapore headquarters — offering support to importers and dealers in Brunei, Cambodia, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Caledonia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. Last year, a total of 5,390 Porsche models were sold in the region.