The morning started off early as 4 Satria R3s (No.6, 7, 8 and 9) assembled at Dengkil Rest Area with Faisal (R3 Marketing) and Amin (R3 Media Manager) in their Proton Perdana Pace Car. It was quite a sight to see a small convoy of ‘Incognito Black’ hot hatches led by a fiery red Perdana cruising towards the Sepang International Circuit.
The black convoy on the way to the SIC.
We were greeted with another 2 SR3s there. Car No.19 arrived later (owned by a 15-year old girl!) but did not participate in the track session. Upon settling the RM150 entrance fee, we assembled at the pits where Faisal gave us a brief on the circuit. The circuit was decorated with Porsches and Elises with a few Evos to add some spice. The odd VTEC-wail of the Integra DC5 and Scooby burble broke the silence of the not-so-vocal Evos and Elises. An even more silent Nissan 350Z (which later experienced clutch problems) added some luxury too.
Listen up fellas, no driving in reverse gear ok?
We were did a circuit familiarisation lap with the pace car leading the pack. We took turns after each lap to tail the pace car.
Playing follow the leader
The excited flock of SR3s burning rubber on the pit straight
We were also treated to a tips session by the famous Tengku Djan Ley, talented racer and Head of Race Rally Research (R3) before we were given a free reign of the track. I later got a ride with Djan in the infamous drift machine – the R3 Lotus Elise. Funny how two big fellas fit in such a small car. If there was such a thing as ‘being one with the car’, it was clearly defined by Djan and the Elise. Impreccable control. The smoothness of his gear changes and slick steering control was a sight to behold. I got a first person view of the cornering lines. He braked late. Really late. And the Elise obeyed every single time, without fail. Excellent stuff.
Djan + the Elise at Turn 2.
It was an absolutely thrilling and educational experience to say the least. It was my first time at Sepang although no stranger to track days (I miss BT3!). My car just hit 5,000kms but was as eager as I was to burn some serious rubber.
There is nothing majorly wrong with the car, in fact it feels very at home on the circuit. It has pace and acceleration is commendable. Mid-range to top end power/torque is good as demonstrated with a pretty quick 165km/h on the pit straight before the tricky 2nd-gear Turn 1. The only quirk where engine performance is concerned is at the low-end, which lacks some punch. This is also influenced by the gearing which is awkward when downshifting from 3rd to 2nd. I found, perhaps to my inexperience of the track, that at 2nd gear corners, it the car was either suffering from too low an rpm at 3rd, or too high in 2nd gear. This was especially true at the dreaded Turn 9, which took me many laps before I could get it at least somewhat right. I believe car No.8 actually spun here after his self-admitted jerky heel-and-toe technique upset the balance of the car.
Throttle modulation is no doubt key in this sense, but I find the gearing here a weakness.
Handling-wise, the SR3 remained neutral throughout, with very little roll, which instills a lot of confidence on a tricky track like Sepang. Most of us fought understeer due to too much entry speed, not due to the geometry nor dynamics of the car. Over-enthusiasm on the approach certainly brought much headache trying to power out later. This was however rectified after a couple of laps with Djan in the Elise, which helped me sort out the proper gears, approach technique and cornering lines. The 2nd round of laps proved to be a big improvement, although hampered later by a rather slipping clutch after some laps.
A clutch upgrade is certainly something to look at here.
Steering feel was excellent throughout the session despite the bouts with understeer on some turns. Direct and honest, to put it in words.
If there was one thing the SR3 REALLY excelled in was the braking. WOW. With no apparent signs of fade AT ALL, we could all brake really late (which explains the understeer! hahaha) without worrying that we’d end up in the gravel. The braking system really, really did a splendid job of stopping the car where it mattered. Hats off here.
All in all, a fun-filled day. This is what the SR3 was made for, and for that matter, the principal reason why I bought the SR3 in the first place. I look forward to more track sessions to not only be a better driver, but ultimately to be ‘one with the car’.
The ride with ‘The Bitch’ (the development car – Car No. ‘0’) was awesome too, with expert Faisal at the helm. No words to describe the smoothness of the delivery and the confidence at the corners. The SR3 seemed like it was born at the track, which is great to say the least. Very neutral handling and a confident drive. The chassis screams give me a bigger engine, but for now, sufficient to satisfy.
One thing I did notice while in the Elise + ‘The Bitch’ with Djan and Faisal respectively was the toe-and-toe technique. I always thought that I was cheating by doing that and recently switched to a heel-and-toe which is still dodgy to say the least. Now that it is ‘acceptable’ I’m gonna switch back. Much easier in actual fact, and smoother too. smile.gif
By the way, much thanks to Djan and Faisal for the rides and the important pointers + advice. Cheers guys!
Pics courtesy of Amin of R3 Media.
More pics available here:
Satria R3 Owners Track Day
Satria R3 Owners Track Day 2