Couldn’t sleep! Teen-like excitement got the better of me the night before our trip. None of us could get any work done at the office as all we did was prepping our cars, some mechanically, but mostly in the aesthetics department! Our cars were to have the right livery in tribute to theme of “The Road to Sepang” - our first cross-border RENNDRIVE trip ever. The idea of going to Sepang began during our multi-day drive to Northern Thailand where a bunch of us expressed their desire to drive our Porsches to the limit on a racing circuit. Where is better to do that than a bona fide Formula one-class track nearest to our home base – the Sepang International Racing Circuit, Malaysia? 1,500km is quite a distance to take 40 lives and 24 old & new Porsche cars across country. With our loosely-organized RENNDRIVE style group format, this is a very tall order.
The day had come when we loaded our cars onto the trailers at IMPACT Arena on Wednesday to send them off to Had Yai, the border town by Friday. The real journey started at Southern Steel Company whose generous owner let us park all our cars overnight in its clean and secure warehouse. That night the cars underwent a final preparation by our 4-man RENNDRIVE Service Team led by Mr. Aey (Autohaus’ Chief Mechanic) and Mr. Art (PainKiller Racing Team Manager). They carefully unloaded each car for final checkup, applied mandatory Malaysian license number decals then gave all the cars a wash. Just to show you how important the aesthetics were, we flew in a professional auto decal artist all the way from Bangkok just to finish up a few cars! We took this livery contest very seriously, it had become more like a contest than a road trip. 2 service vehicles were needed to haul all the spare parts and tools in anticipation of servicing models from 1976 930 Turbo, RWB to the modern 991.
Most of our crew arrived in Had Yai on the first flight on Saturday. Many of us were familiar with road trips, first thing we did was to check the cars again and prepped the radios and antenna. Then the weather started to play tricks on us with some wind and rain. Our original plan was to move out at 9:30am and meet our Malaysian friends across the border by 11:00am so when we started rolling at 9am sharp, I was relieved. It was a mere 50 kms from Southern Steel Co. to Sadao Check Point and we prepared all the documents for border formality, but it still took us until noon for the last car to cross and to make the matter worse, we forgot that Malaysian time is 1 hour ahead … Finally we met up with our Malaysian counterparts - Bobby, Andrew, and Ron at around 1pm Malaysian time. The first stint to Kuala Lumper (KL) was a bliss because Andrew took the lead with his eye candy 997 GT3RS while our sweeper car piloted by Ron is a neon green Lamborghini Huracan. Talk about the pressure of keeping up!
I remember Andrew asking if we drive fast because there’s lot of speed traps. We are in a foreign land where we haven’t got a clue about the speed limit so we told him that just to read the road signs and GPS was already handful so he should take the lead and we’d follow. The pressure was added as Bobby had to get us all to the restaurant they had booked our lunch some 300 kilometers away in Ipoh before its closing time at 3pm! As we thundered through Malaysian countryside I had no idea that the Malaysian road network has advanced this far. The long straight roads are smooth and beautiful just like those in Europe where both sides are lush with trees and no power line poles to be found. The one-way 4-lane road was without any potholes, so even for most of our cars with uprated suspension we hardly felt any bump or imperfection along the way. Surprisingly, local drivers are very well-mannered. At the slightest flick of right turn signal, they’ll quickly move away to the left lane to let us pass. On top of that some even gave us their thumbs up. (and not the other finger)
I glanced at the speedometer, “My goodness we were haulin’ !”. Where are the speed traps they warned us about? Maybe our Malaysian friends were really hungry. Only later I learned that due to the rain, any entanglements with the police were few and far between … much like what happen in Thailand! What really slowed us down however, was the refueling. Imagine a flock of 30 Porsches, a Lamborghini, and 2 service trucks all trying to take a sip of those highly desirable 97 Octane fuel at half the price paid in Thailand!
No, we didn’t arrive at 3pm, but 4pm wasn’t bad considering a fuel stop and going through multiple toll gates. The Dim Sum restaurant in Ipoh remained open just for us. The food was delicious! After lunch we snagged onto another problem. One of our cars - the highly tuned 996 Turbo could only select 3 of its gears – first job for the Service Team. It took our highly capable hands a mere 30 minutes to repair the broken sensor plug on the rear wheels. No car is to be left behind. Instead it was a half-hour filled with laughter, picture-taking and chitchatting fun in the parking lot.
As we approached Kuala Lumpur at around 6pm, another episode of “Dude where’s the hotel?” played out. As our convoy of 30+ cars stretch over a few set of traffic lights and intersections in the busy city of KL some of us got separated and lost. Thanks to GPS and lots of LINE calls, all members eventually arrived safely at Grand Millennium hotel.
End of Part I
End of Part I