Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Driving JOY - The BMW Z4M

Driving a 540,000RM car is rare. What made it even more rare is that I got to drive it for the 1st time in an Autocross! The car? BMW Z4M. For those of you who don't know what this car is like check out the photo at the top of this post, to make things even sweeter it's not a normal Z4. Notice the 'M' trademark, yup M-Power which means this model is the top of the line performance package from the factory in Germany. I've always seen this car in action, what it can do and the power and precision that it has, never have I ever thought I could drive one...in an autocross.

Where and when? Last weekend during GRA. The reason for me jumping into the Z4M owned by Ruoh Chiew Peng is because my car is in the workshop getting some pipes fixed. After loaning Sifu Ivan's car, his radiator decided to crack under all his donut smoking run, I needed a car in the same class to continue. I was afraid to ask, but I had to try. As I asked Peng he looked a little worried, well who wouldn't be, heck if I owned this the Z4M I'd be thinking 10 times before I loaned it out to someone. He then said okay after a short pause.

So it was my turn to go, I told Peng to leave the electronics on so that I can get used to the car and as I imagined, the electronics did all the work to keep the car in a straight line. I finished with no drama. Just to learn how the car reacts. Then my 2nd run came up, this time I looked to Peng and asked, "can I turn off the electronics for my 2nd run?". Peng said "sure, no problem....just be carefulll..and take it easy, save some tires for me". DSC off, green light, time to go. This time I felt what everyone have been telling me about the car...with DSC OFF the car is totally different. Indeed it did feel different, all that power down to the 2 rear wheels of the car pushed me against my seat and this was in 1st gear, off the line. My goal now was to see how the car reacted on the throttle and how the hand brake works. Slight nudge of the throttle made the car jump as if all 330bhp was trying to power the entire car all at once. On the straights the car was perfect, the purr of the engine at 6000rpm at 3rd gear and the brakes, yes the brakes were outstanding. Nearing the finish I screwed up and lost some time.

During a break, I took some time to think about the Z4M's drive, learn from your mistakes. The night runs began. As I lined up Peng help me turn on the lights and check everything to make sure it is all okay. I started the same way I started earlier, this time the car felt good, familiar. As I made my way through the course I took time to feel the car, gently apply more power and the car slides a little, a quick counter steer and lifting off the throttle got the car straighten out, then reapply power again. I got through the course without any drama, feeling that I accomplished all that is necessary to complete the course with the car. Then Peng asks, "how did you do that? it's only your 3rd time in the car!". I had no answer, I just told him exactly what I did for each run, learning each mistake, every corner and feeling what the Z4M could do. I finished the 4th run the same as the 3rd, 1 second faster. Checking the live timing on the screens, I was actually 23seconds faster from my first run.

Looking back at the experience, it was awesome. A Normal Aspirated car that feels like a turbo charged beast. Overall I didn't win anything in the event, but I will never forget this event.....for a very very long time.

A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU!!! to Peng and Ivan for sharing their cars with me.

1 comment:

Ruoh Peng said...

Not only you beat my time in my car, you also beat me by blogging about it first. I have an article coming up too.

Your driving had been inspiring.