I previously signed up for this course (BMW Advanced Driver Training) last year but had the unfortunate incident of having the dates clashed with a wedding shoot I had signed up for. After a long wait, the slots for this year were opened up, and I quickly signed up for the course. Now, having been on drivers training course (private session), I was rather reluctant at first to sign up for this course. But the pull of the BMW Intensive Driver Training, which offers the curriculum on the track, has a rather powerful appeal to me.
So two weeks ago, the day finally arrived. It was a hot Saturday morning with clear skies and all the participants were ushered into a suite at the Sepang Circuit, where breakfast was laid out. I was rather sad that day because it also clashed with a track day I wanted to take part in, but all I could do was watch my friends race up and down Sepang as I ate my breakfast.
The program started first with a briefing as well as a theory class where we learned the benefits of having run flat tyres and what are some of the causes of accidents. It was pretty interesting and it did give me an eye opener (I am one of those who stopped using run flat tyres).
After the theoretical class, it was time for the practical session where everyone signed up for. There were 20 participants in the course and we were assigned two to a car. I was pleasantly surprised that for this course, we had the new BMW F30 328i to use for the day. The instructors then gave us a quick exercise and guide on how to have your seat in the right position as well as the proper steering wheel holding position.
As we were herded to the empty parking lot beside the paddock area of Sepang International Circuit, I was busy trying to figure out how to change gears on the car without feeling such a noob! Thank goodness my team mate owned a F30 and gave me a quick run down.
The first practice session was on manoeuvrability of the car at various speeds as well as an exercise on emergency braking. I highly recommend everyone who reads my blog to practice slamming your brakes in an empty lot or parking lot. It really does give you an awareness of how your car reacts and at least gives you a feel of what to expect especially in that emergency situation. One of the exercises we had to do was to perform an emergency brake and then see how close we can get the car closest to the cone.
After that, we moved on to the slalom to practice our handling of the car. It wasn’t easy because we had to use the technique in which they showed us to hold the steering wheel (3-9 position) and then go through the slalom course as fast as we can without hitting the cones.
Lunch was served at the same place, food was good (catered from Sama Sama Hotel which was previously known as Pan Pacific KLIA). I kind of liked that they really treated all participants quite well with good food, ladies providing us with towels, sunblock and mineral water throughout the day and fantastic instructors.
After lunch we headed out to the wet course where we learned to “drift” the car or basically correct your car in an induced under-steer and over-steer situation. This was the favourite part for me mainly because it wasn’t my car and I didn’t have to change my tyres after the course. Previously when I went for one of the private drivers training courses, I sort of burned out my tyres completely.
Right after the drift portion, we had a quick brief about a slalom course we needed to complete and then finally get a timed run through the course and whoever could complete it within the fastest time would get a prize. We were given 4 runs, the first two runs was for us to practice and the last two runs were timed. If we hit a cone we get penalized and if we cross certain lines at the end we would also get penalized. In total my time was 19.43secs which was 0.5 secs compared to the winner who completed it within 18.9 secs. My mistake, I braked too early at the end. But it was fun!
The last bit of the training was getting a ride with the instructors around Sepang Circuit for 3 laps. I took the opportunity to get the instructor to show us the lines he would usually use to drive and he did give me a lot of pointers. Will definitely make use of them the next Sepang outing I embark on.
Within my firm, after every training, participants are usually given a feedback form and one of the questions usually asked is “Would you recommend this course to your colleagues”. In this case, I would really recommend this course to everyone! Please note that you do NOT require to own a BMW to participate in this course. The price is a little steep in this case (RM1,800 per pax) but please note that they provide the car, and refreshments and meals as well as a small goody bag. Personally, it was well worth the money. Also please note that if you are a BMW White Card member, it is RM1,700 and if you are an Elite Card holder, the price is RM1,500 for this course if I am not wrong.
If it is still too expensive, there are other driving training courses out there especially in the case of defensive driving and learning the limits of your car. I would really recommend them because there are a lot of things about driving that you will never learn at your driving school. It is really what separates us from “lesen kopi” and being a good and informed driver.