Well, I suppose it's no new news that we've, i mean specifically I, had again crashed our good old lady Kate... :-(
And from the looks of things, it'll probably take some time before Old Kate would be up and running again...
Why and how did it occur? Unlike my previous misadventure, this time I'll try to reiterate what happened that fateful night, so that we all might take stock of this rather unfortunate event, that hopefully, we will grow the wiser out of all this sadness...
It began, as always, rather slowly... Ryousuke had been making a lot of pretty lonely touge runs while I was getting myself lost at Miri and Brunei over the weekend. The excitement of Bukit Putus was still thick in the air. I was craving for one last hurrah with Ryousuke, before he would venture out into the world again. So thus, such was how fertile the ground was that led to the culmination of the excitement that burst into flames.
I came back from work as always, excited like a lost puppy that has just found its owner. To add to the fuel, that evening I had a rather agreeable run in the monster GTR of my greatly respected boss. My spirit was high. I was gearing for an all night party with Old Kate at our favourite dancing floor.
Ryousuke and I thus went out, not looking for a crowd, just wanted Hanz as company. Hanz is always an agreeable company, and besides, I missed him. Haven't seen him for so long. Unfortunately Hanz couldn't make it at that time. So it was just us two.
It rained that evening, so the Touge was a little damp. But things were clearing up, and so we made our run. An initial sweep, and it was a-go. It was a really dark night, with the clouds covering the moon, the only guiding light was Old Kate's rather unreliable headlights. But it's not a situation we haven't faced before. And so we took the plunge, and Ryousuke blasted through the touge.
It scared the heck out of me. I was so scared, that when I drove, i was paralysed by fear, and could hardly hustle Old Kate through the touge at any dramatic pace. The shot of adrenaline wasn't enough to overcome the fear, and at the end of my run, my neck hurts from all the paralysing fear rather than any great lateral Gs.
We had enough, I couldn't bear another run riding shotgun with Ryousuke, nor was he willing to go another run with me (despite running more slowly than him, about 2 seconds off... yup, we timed our run that night). And so we went off, almost calling it a night. As we were heading back, we discussed each others different driving style, Ryousuke being very aggressive, holding tightly to Kate's rein, not giving Kate any space to go adrift. While I was more subtle, letting Kate wander off a bit at the exits, and only holding on when Kate was going a bit too astray. Ryousuke's driving was on the point of violent and precise, while mine was like on rails, and seemingly gliding around. I took Ryousuke's comments in mind, thinking I may need to be more assertive with Kate.
But the night was just starting for Hanz, and he invited us for a drink at some luxurious hole in KL. We came, had a few chat, a few drinks, met up with some great folks (even a professional driver from Singapore O.O) and watched two of the most desirable cars drive away, an Audi R8 and a brand new GTR. Things were looking good.
With Hanz around, we were pumped up for another go at the Touge. Mostly because now we can ride shotgun in Hanz's superbly stable Neo, and not the terrifying Kate.
When we got there, Ryousuke led the run uphill. Kate having so much power at tap, blasted away from Hanz's view. Such was the difference now. Even with all the skills and talent Hanz could muster, it could not bridge the power gap Kate now commands.
When we reached the downhill point, Ryousuke slowed down and waited for Hanz. And that was the start of one of the most greatest and dramatic downhill duel run I have ever witnessed. Ryousuke gave it all, locking the left wheels occasionally. But Hanz gave some more. He would deftly oversteer his Neo in the turns, adjusting its trajectory, and slammed the throttle until the exit.
Ryousuke was able to get away, but not by a really great margin. Such was Hanz's superb knife edge skills.
At the end of the run, Ryousuke and Hanz both complained how slippery the touge was. Hanz said he had never felt his Neo 'floating' like that. Partly because of the immense speed he was taking the corners, and partly maybe because the road was actually slippery. But still, that didn't stopped us anyway.
We switched drivers. I took the helm of Kate and Ryousuke rode shotgun with Hanz. As usual, the uphill run was a walk in the park. Hanz simply cannot catch up, for the simple fact that Kate's massive power gave it unrivaled exit speeds. As I went, Ryousuke's comments lingered, and I tried to be a little more aggressive with Kate.
I waited for Hanz at the downhill, and once he arrived, sped off. Since the downhill of the return run is basically a high speed course, Hanz also couldn't keep up simply because of Kate's pedal to the metal power. But nearing the end, as the course turns tighter, a very heavy fog slumped over the touge which forced me to slow down so much, that Hanz caught up.
Regardless, I wasn't as fast as Ryousuke, but it was tacitly clear, Hanz could not keep up on the downhill return run. Despite Hanz being faster on the tighter turns, the fact that the earlier high speed portion gave so much of an advantage, the tight sections was too late and too few to give Hanz much advantage over us. That observation also lingered at the back of my mind.
Then, while contemplating to call it a night, i don't remember who came up with the idea, but we decided to have a rematch of my ignominious defeat at Hanz's Neo a long while back. Since it is unfair to incorporate the uphill run, we decided just to fight it off at the downhill section.
We then slowly climbed to the peak. I was afraid, afraid of losing control. Losing control of Kate, losing control of myself, all mixed up to swell and swerve in my stomach. The road was getting damp, the night was cold, surface temperature was dropping, and many thoughts lingering in the background. Despite it all, we took the plunge, not knowing that we won't be surfacing again that night.
At first it was going great. I didn't want to gamble on the entry, braked pretty early and heavily, took the turns gingerly, and maximise Kate's superior accelerating ability on the exits. Hanz was falling behind, very slowly.
I realized Hanz dropping behind, but as the course turns tighter, Hanz was holding his ground, and even sometimes making up the distance. I felt I needed to extend the gap, if I want to survive Hanz's slaughter at the very tight last portion of the downhill course, and those lingering thoughts came to fore.
Hanz took everything he got to keep up, going at the very knife-edge of limits, and sometimes went over it. A total of 3 times actually. But in all 3 times, he was able to keep things together, and continue the fight. Thank God nothing ever happened to him. God smiles generously on Hanz, and his skills make sure those smiles didn't go to waste.
As for myself, I tried to up the ante. I tried to push the entry a bit more, squeeze the exit that bit of fraction faster. But the increase speed was scrambling my on-rail, gliding rhythm. It was messing with my lines. I couldn't place Kate where I wanted her before the turn catches us. Each successive corner forced me to be more forceful on Kate, each time breaking my rhythm.
And the eventful corner came up. It was a long right hander, that turns tighter, then a slight left and right kink, and another long left hander that exits quite tightly. I messed up on the first long right hander, took another line that made me exit the turn faster, but not able to properly set Kate up for the coming left and right kink. The left and right was a mess, and before I could gather Kate up, the long left hander came.
Hanz in the meanwhile, was falling behind, my increase pace pressured him to push it further. And the 3 incidents came, and he was finally about to give up, thinking after that long left hander, I would leave him too far back to make up the distance, and so resigned to take it easy afterwards.
I came upon the left hander, braked Kate a little early, trying to scrub off all those excess speed Kate was carrying. Her left front tyre locked up, that achille's heel of Kate. That messed up left wheel well, that also messed up the suspension's geometry. All that adds up to a very sluggish left turn and very easy to lock up left wheel.
Her left wheel locked up, I eases off the brakes, but the wheel was still locked. The left wheel lock up was so bad, that we need to almost, if not entirely, lift off the brakes to cure it. Ryousuke was able to cure this by his highly refined cadence braking technique. I on the other hand, had emphasized threshold braking too greatly that I neglected practicing any other techniques.
I lifted off a bit more, the wheel still remained locked up. The corner was turning in, and the ditch and mountain side was coming at a more alarming rate. We still had quite a long way to go, so I didn't really panic and thought I could remedy the situation. Release the lock and turn Kate in, so I thought.
Again I lifted off a bit more, but the wheel remained locked up. The ditch and mountain side was now too close for comfort. Out of sheer instinct, I began to try to turn Kate in by turning the wheel. Thus shaving more traction from the tyres, making it more harder to unlock the wheels.
I lifted off a bit more and the wheel was still locked up. Kate wouldn't turn, I was suffering from a very bad case of understeer, the kind Ryousuke suffered at Kg. Gajah. It was getting too late to save the situation. I bailed out from the race, saving Kate was more important than continuing the race.
I straightened out, and dig in the brakes, trying to scrub off as much speed as possible. Trying to stop before we hit the fast looming mountain side. At the least, trying to minimize the damage should Kate nose dive into the ditch or the mountain side.
Now both tyres locked up and it was too late to try to save the situation. Instead of trying to cure the lock, I instinctively dig in the brakes even further, making saving the dire situation now impossible.
The ditch came up, Kate smashed through the low stone wall bordering the ditch, flying the stones up and over Kate. Kate was going too fast and flew over the ditch, nose dived into the mountain side, and became lodged in the dew ridden soil of the mountain side.
It was all in slow-mo, and I could hardly believe it when it happened. The misery of it all was then upon us, I had failed. I failed to properly gauge my ability and Kate's capability, I failed to quickly remedy the locked wheel, and finally failed to save the situation all together.
The fact that the air was damp, the surface temperature was low, giving quite low traction to Kate, using cheap korean wheels upfront, not having actually familiarized myself with Kate's braking limits, was no excuse for my catastrophic failure. It was a simple matter of lapse of concentration, a re-emerging self-damaging confidence, a burning desire to win, an insatiable lust to redeem one's pride and a disregard for safety, all culminated in the great disaster that has finally fallen again upon our weary shoulders.
There was a time,
When the world was at my feet...
There was a time,When youth played in the gardens of my sleep...
But the world has awaken me,
My youth has deserted me,
Darkness now looms over me,
And this pit now conquers me...
My failings and failures,
My disappointment and blunders,
Let it all pass,
But yet it claws upon my wretched path...
One cannot but reflect...
P.s: I would like to take this opportunity to thank Taka and Jasril from Touge-G for their indispensable help in our time of need as well as Hanz, for everything you've done to help us and stick it out that night. Thanks a million. Only Allah could repay the help and kindness you've all given us that unfortunate night. God bless you all.