Porsche Kuwait Test Run Coverage

Screenshot_2013-12-17-22-13-37On the 15th and 16th of December, Porsche Kuwait held an exclusive event at the SIRBB Circuit in Shuwakh which allowed a selected number of car and Porsche enthusiasts to truly test out the various unique features of the current Porsche line-up. The event was organized by Porsche Kuwait and involved a number of driving experts/instructors to guide the participants through the event. The event was well organized, and the staff were extremely helpful and friendly, and this showed us what sets Porsche apart from their competitors.

The event was not open to the general public, and was an invite-only event. I got my Media/Participant pass thanks to my friend Ahmed, who is actively involved in car meetups and events.

The test run takes place on the 15th and 16th respectively with no difference between the two test runs. I participated on the test run that took place on the 16th. The event started 3.30 and the day was planned out according to the Schedule. The schedule was as follows:-

SIRBB Circuit

SIRBB Circuit

15.30 – Arrival & Welcome Speeches

16:00 – Section 1

17:00 – Section 2

18:00 – Coffee/Snack break

18:30 – Section 3

19:30 – Demo/Taxi Laps

20:30 – Awards & Farewell Speech

Upon arrival, each participant was assigned a group. After the arrival speeches that was given,we were introduced to our instructors, and each group went down the track with their groups, to start the series of exercises that were planned for us. We were given a brief safety talk about the correcIMG_5584t position of driving, and how to properly adjust your seats and the correct way to hold your steering wheel.

There were four different exercises that each team had to take part in. Before the start of each exercise, the instructor would briefly explain the point and technique of each exercise, and then would take each participant in a demo lap of the exercise, before finally allowing the participant to take part.

Paul describing the techniques for the Slalom

Paul describing the techniques for the Slalom

For our group, the first exercise for us was the Slalom exercise with the 911 Carrera S. If you aren’t familiar with what a Slalom exactly is; it’s basically an arranged “exercise” with laid out cones that you are supposed to navigate through. The point of this exercise was to test out the dynamic handling of the Carrera S. In all honestly, this is a superb car to drive hard.

IMG_5597

It’s extremely light (well, compared to my Titan anyway!) as well as very stable. Also, it’s direct steering doesn’t get “twitchy” with increasing speeds. The car is well balanced, and it’s chassis control reduces body roll while cornering. The car maneuvered around the cones with ease. 

The 911 Carrera S

The 911 Carrera S

After that adrenaline filled rush of the 911 Carrera S, we headed down the track towards the Panamera GTS for our second exercise: Launch Control and braking. If you aren’t familiar with Launch Control, it’s an electronic aid that helps drivers accelerate from a standing start. The procedure was to push the brake pedal as hard as you can, and then do the same with the gas pedal. Once the Control Launch signal shows up, you release the brakes while still flooring the gas pedal, which sends you out flying towards the cones. As soon as you reach the cones, you slam your brakes as hard as you can to test out the braking.

Panamera GTS

Panamera GTS

Interior of the Panamera GTS

Interior of the Panamera GTS

While I personally have a huge dislike of the Panamera because of it’s bulkiness and design (Which I feel is un-Porsche like) my opinion of the car slightly changed once I got the chance to actually try it out. It’s interior is very well and beautifully designed.It was luxurious, spacious, and very comfortable. The Panamera handled itself quiet well, had a smooth yet powerful acceleration, and the braking was extremely sensitive and highly responsive. Needles to say, the Panamera had grown on me a bit.

The third, and probably the most fun session was the Timing Lap with the Boxster S. The point of this session was to test out everything the car had to offer: Acceleration, handling, stability, braking and most importantly – your skills. Each participant got a practice lap and a timed lap, with each participants time being recorded and compared to the other’s times for a mini-competition. As for the car itself, it was a quiet enjoyable. It’s acceleration was great, the car was well  responsive and stable on turns and was overall a very smooth, comfortable and powerful ride.

Cayenne V6

Cayenne V6

The last exercise we took part in was the braking test with the Cayenne V6. We got to experience hands on Porsche’s ABS system. If you aren’t familiar with the ABS system, it’s a system designed to prevent your brakes from locking up during hard braking. This allows you to brake hard while at the same time retaining directional control and steer clear of any obstacles. With this exercise, you are basically told to drive like you’re about to crash. You are given instructions to drive the car as fast as you can (basically flooring the gas) and once reaching the cones, you slam the brakes as hard as you can while simultaneously navigating/steering the car out of the cones. While it was kind of a scary exercise, having driven the Porsche Cayenne before, I knew there was nothing to worry about. This is a car you can trust while doing such exericses.

20131216_201552_Richtone(HDR)The final event of the day was a drifting/demo taxi lap around the track. Each participant withdrew a paper from a hat and was randomly assigned a car. It was either the 911 Carrera S, the Boxster S or the Cayman. Each participant then got the chance to drive along with instructors with one of those cars. The instructors took 2 laps around the circuit – dirifting! And it was incredible. I got the chance to tag along with the instructor with the Cayman, and man was he a pro! (Afterall it is what they do for a living!) Incredible handling techniques and accuracy around the circuit.

Porsche Team

All in all, this final demo lap concluded the activities for the event. Everyone then headed back to the gathering point in which we were given a farewell speech by  the  Porsche Kuwait staff and the instructors. The top three with the best timed laps were announced, and the winner was Salem Sawrij (and honestly it was a well deserved win – guy is a talent!)

Before I left, I managed to interview Andy Boux,  a registered Porsche trainer as well as the Head of Operations EMEA, who was responsible organizing and getting the instructors together.

Me: What would you say the purpose of this event was?

Andy: The purpose of the Porsche Test Run here in Kuwait is to give existing potential Porsche customers the opportunity to drive the cars in a dynamic environment and also ofcourse a safe environment.

Me: How would you execute one of the Porsche Test Runs?

Andy: From our side,we come over and sit with the Porsche Center here in Kuwait, and we would choose our model line up (based on the popular models here in Kuwait) and then we would look at the venue and decide what would be the most safe way to show off the car and also the most exciting way for the customer test drive the car as well.

Me: And how would you rate this event overall?

Andy: It’s been fantastic,again one of the main part of the event is always the people and here in Kuwait the welcome is always really really good and the people are always really fun to work with and ofcourse car crazy aswell and again this new venue is fantastic it’s absolutely ideal for what we need to do and again it’s a big step for Kuwait

Me: So would you do it again here?

Andy: Absolutely. We are already planning to come back. Everyone here is really welcoming and we can’t think of anything more positive to say about Kuwait it’s fantastic.

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All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful event by Porsche. Very well executed and organized. All the staff involved were extremely friendly and professional and they even took time to get to know the participants and converse with them. The only complaint I have, is that there were no parking spaces organized for us near the circuit and some participants (including me) hand to park quiet far off from the circuit as there were no available places to park.

Paul handing over my Certificate!

Paul handing over my Certificate!

Porsche Team with some participants!

Porsche Team with some participants!

To find out more about Porsche Kuwait, visit their site as they often update it with upcoming events and the latest news concerning Porsche:

http://www.porsche.com/middle-east/_kuwait_/

The Porsche Club Kuwait Website/Instagram

http://porscheclubkuwait.com.kw/

@porscheclubq8

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F1 Friday: Mika Hakkinen

ImageThere’s no doubt that Finland produced some of the greatest F1 Drivers. From Keke Rosberg who was the first Fin to take World Drivers’ Championship in 1982 to the current competitor Kimi Raikkonen who won the WDC in 2007. However, we will get to those crazy Fins sometime later. 

Today I picked Mika Hakkinen as the for our F1 Friday driver. Besides being totally cool on the outside, he remains on the most consistent drivers on F1, ever. 

Born on the 28th of September 1968 in Vantaa, Finland. Mika started out his driving adventures young, as he first got on the track at the age of 5 years old on a local track. However, things weren’t really fortunate for him as he managed to get into an accident on his first lap. However, despite the accident, he kept on persisting that he wanted to continue racing. And so, his adventures began after he recieved his first go-kart

Hakkinen was already begging to climb the ladder of fame by 1986, as he had won five karting championships. Dubbed the Flying Finn by the Scandinavian Media, he won 3 Scandinavian Championships and the Opel Lotus Euroseries Championship in 1988 before finally winning the 1990 British F3 Championships. It was also in 1990 that he the notable encounter with the infamous German, Michael Schumacher. In the Macau GP, he was running second place behind Schumacher, as he tried to pass him, they both touched, and that resulted in Hakkinen being put of the race.

However that was only determination for the Flying Finn, as he made his F1 debut with Lotus the following year. He started out with a very strong preformance in the Phoenix Grand Prix before he struggled with engine failure. He continued on the season finishing at joint 15th position. However the season wasn’t as he hoped it would be as he was plagued with mechanical issues. The following season was pretty similiar, which resulted in Hakkinen retiring from more than 1/3 of his races, which eventually lead to his switch to McLaren in 1993.

 

After the switch and having to have had prove himself to step up from being the test driver, he out-qualified his team mate Ayrton Senna in his debut in Portugal, who was by that time a 3 time world championship. After Ayrton leaving McLaren for Williams, Mika had become lead driver for Team McLaren.

In 1995, he had a disastrous crash at the practice in the Australian GP, having had a tyre failure in the first qualifying session. Which led to him heavily crashing in the walls of the circuit. The crash resulted in him having a skull fracture, heavy internal bleeding, and the impact of the crash lead to him swallowing his tongue, and his life was saved by an emergency tracheotomy (fancy word for having your throat cut and having a tube inserted to help you breathe). Despite the serious injuries he sustained, he made a full recovery and returned to the after track 87 days. He got back on his ’95 McLaren MP4/10 in the Le Castellet circuit in France.

 He continued proving himself and growing stronger on the track and it all game together in 1998. He have won the 1998 season opener in the Australian GP and he continued battling Michael Schumacher to finally push him off the edge and being led to be crowned World Champion in the final round in the Japanese Grand Prix. In 1999, his season was a success as he managed to maintain his World Championship title, being the first Fin to ever win back-to-back titles. 

After his successful runs, he began to decline in performance, until he finally left the sport in 2001.

Some Quotes:

“I’ve been through so much in my career in F1, particularly in 1995, and I did achieve so much that I thought it’s not worth it any more to push your luck further.”

“Formula One is a mind game, no question. You have to think so hard sometimes smoke comes out your ears! And if you don’t keep your head in gear the car will overtake you”

 

Some videos on Mika: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNCXOznFI_8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8j6JLlLKNA