Touge? What’s that? The question non-motorheads would be asking would be – “Is it a vegetable? Is it edible?” Hah. Made popular by the Japanese comic series ‘Initial D’ with the iconic AE86, EVO3 and Skyline GT-R, ‘Touge’ is a form of illegal street racing on twisty mountain roads. Touge can be traced as far back as the 60s, on various hill climbs in Nagano, Japan. The adoption of rallying techniques to shave off time in cornering gave birth to what you know today as ‘drifting’ or ‘dorifto’ in Japanese. The Father of modern day Drifting – Keiichi Tsuchiya, was himself a great ‘touge’ driver, who gained notoriety and popularity through his exploits on the mountains.
Why am I telling you all this? We organised our own quasi-pseudo Touge outing to Genting.
A bunch of us gathered and convoyed up Genting Highlands via Karak. Consisting of 3 Satria R3s, an AE86, Merc SLK convertible, 2 Putras, MX-5, we took off after catching England’s ho-hum win over Paraguay in the 2006 World Cup. We needed a Saturday night adrenalin rush which the England game couldn’t provide. Shame, but a great opener by Germany yesterday. Perhaps ‘convoy’ isn’t the best word as the experienced drivers powered up to the peak with haste. It was my first time driving my SR3 up, and in a manner which would scare some shitless (definitely not for the faint-hearted), although I don’t think I drove that fast. The Ulu Yam-Genting Sempah route was deemed to dangerous so we all took Karak, fast.
Up, up and away!
Tailing Andrew, who drives a Stage 1 Satria R3, we both lost the convoy before the turn-off to Genting. While Andrew filled up his thirsty, trusty black stallion (my god, that sounds gay!) at base, the rest of the boys had already reached the first roundabout at Gotong Jaya. I tailed Andrew as we climbed the twisty bits. The development brake pads I am currently testing held itself well, and plenty of grip (still) from the worn AD07 rubber. The rubber never complained even once, no screeching, no understeer. Nothing. The Satria R3, being such a neutral handler, was confident and composed at all times. Did notice a slight out-of-breath feeling as we climbed higher, most likely due to the oxygen starved air. The tail did step out once or twice but easily corrected.
We congregated and chilled (literally, although Genting was uncommonly warm by her standards) at Starbucks for a little over an hour. Coming down, the 3 SR3s broke convoy and joined a team of self-proclaimed hillclimbers consisting of about 4 cars, taking the narrow, dark, twisty Genting Sempah route. Now that, was fun! Heaps more fun than the drive up. At this point, I was slightly concerned for the brakes, as they were not the confident-inspiring Mintex M1144 endurance performance pads that comes in every stock Satria R3. Stanley, on the other hand, was concerned about his tires. His recently purchased 8,000kms mileage Satria R3 sported expensive Pirelli Dragon tires, which isn’t as great a performance tires as the sticky Yokohamas. He in fact, had one particularly hairy oversteering moment on the way up. Stanley led, appropriately so, since he just had spanking new HID lights fitted.
I followed closely behind, braking when he braked. Andrew stayed close, very close, in fact. His headlights appearing on my right side mirrors, then left, then on my rearview.
Like a virgin
Being a Genting Sempah virgin, I was cautious initially but became less tentative as confidence grew and adrenalin built up. The car had phenomenal grip. Very confidence inspiring indeed. Had just one or two oversteer situations under late braking on corners, but otherwise the car pointed where I wanted it to go. I was basically throwing the car into the corners, tapping the brakes as and when needed. The sharp blind corners were nice and the quick succession of 2nd gear esses were thrilling. Driving this twisty bits really made me appreciate the Satria R3 even more. It was made for this. Point and steer. And the tail will follow. Oversteer? Point, lift off slightly, power on, and the tail will neatly tuck back in. Occasionally, just tap the brakes to guide the rear in. Brilliant!
I had bunches of fun there. Definitely a place I’d visit again if I’d ever need a midnight adrenalin rush. Andrew told me it was peanuts for him though, the Teluk Bahang trained driver. Show-off! 😛 Our drive back through Batu Caves, then Sri Damansara was a full throttle affair, speeds at some points breached 200km/h. Nice. The adrenalin buzzed still once I got home.
But the sleep was good, I tell ya! 🙂