Chengdu Drive 2009
After four consecutive, overwhelmingly successful Shanghai Drives, the Club brought to its members something completely afresh this year—the Chengdu Drive!! The Drive took place between 5th December (Thursday) and 10th November (Tuesday). Members travelled to new cities through a completely different route, stopping at Chenzhou (郴州), Kaili (凱裏) and Chongqing (重慶) along the way before arriving in Chengdu and spending a full day at the Chengdu International Circuit, one of the circuits for the A1GP 2008/09 season. Interestingly, there were 37 Porsches participating in the event, represented by a full range of Porsches, including, two Carrera GTs, numerous GT3s, GT2s, Turbos, Carreras, Caymans and a Boxster S etc.
Day 1: Things started off smoothly as all the cars were cleared quickly and efficiently at the Chinese Custom. The first day of the drive was not that long (only about 500 km). Basically, drivers could take it easy throughout the day, took plenty of breaks and still arrived at the hotel before 5 p.m. There was still plenty of free time for a relaxing foot massage before the buffet dinner held at the hotel.
Day 2: The drive on the second day was the longest of all (about 900 km). So, all participants started very early, hoping to beat the heavy traffic and more importantly, to avoid, as much as possible, the need to drive when the moon and stars were high in the sky. Unfortunately, contrary to the wishes, there were a few breakdowns and certain unexpected incidents happened during the day which prohibited their progress. All the Porsches did not manage to arrive in Kaili until quite late in the evening, which was a pity because Kaili is the home to the Miao ethic minority. It would have been interesting for participants to be able to spend some time viewing the Miao ethic culture and visiting various historical architectures. As a consolation, the hotel prepared a banquet of local delicacies which the members thoroughly enjoyed and immensely appreciated after a long day of driving.
Day 3: Although the drive on the third day was only 550 km, participants were still required to start early as they were expected to reach Chongqing early that afternoon to attend the reception / party at the Chongqing Tiandi—a residential and retail development of Shui On Land Limited located in the heart of Chongqing. As soon as the Porsches exited the highway and arrived in Chongqing, the local media was already all over them. The Porsches paraded through the heart of Chongqing where the locals could admire the seldom-seen sports cars before finally reaching Chongqing Tiandi. Upon arrival, the cars were nicely polished and arranged to park conspicuously at the development, making a real statement for the evening’s event. A large number of people, including, the media turned up for the extravaganza. In fact, the sales office of Chongqing Tiandi was opened on purpose and many participants took the opportunity to study the development project better. A few of them were seriously considering purchasing an apartment or two!!
Day 4: Though Chengdu is only 315 km away from Chongqing, participants were warned in advance the numerous speeding cameras along the highway. Therefore, everyone took it easy on this fourth day. Participants arrived at the Chengdu International Circuit just after lunch and all the cars were parked safely in the pit. A coach took them to their hotels. Afterwards it was free time and many took the opportunity to sightsee the famous tourists spots in the city, such as, the Chengdu Wuhou Shrine.
Day 5: The following day was finally the time for the participants to try out their Porsches on the Chengdu Circuit. Unfortunately, when they woke up that morning and looked out of the windows, all they could see was a sea of misty white fog. It was so thick that they could hardly see more than 50 meters away. The condition did not improve at all when they arrived at the Circuit. It was certainly highly dangerous to drive in such poor visibility. To pass time, one of the members came up with the idea of demonstrating how to practice Tai Chi and others soon started following his moves. Afterwards it was the group photo session, followed by a walk (on foot) of the entire Chengdu circuit. Participants took the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the circuit by trying their best to remember each and every corner!!
When the fog finally started to clear up towards noon time, drivers dived in to experience the Chengdu Circuit for the first time. This circuit might be shorter than that of Shanghai (only 3.33 km) but it has a series of corners placed closely together. If drivers are over zealous going into the first corner, they will definitely screw up the following corners, resulting in a slower overall time. Car control and balance are the keys through these bends. The saying that ‘power is nothing without control’ is clearly validated.
Although the track time was forcibly shortened, everyone enjoyed their drive tremendously. It was later learned from the news that the highways in Chengdu were closed for seven hours that morning due to heavy fog. It was really fortunate that drivers all arrived safely at Chengdu the day before!!
Day 6: As most members were booked on the afternoon flight back to Hong Kong, many took some time in the morning to visit the Chengdu Panda Base. After all, Sichuan is home to this lovely endangered specie. The base is like a huge park perched on a hill. Various pandas, ranging from new borns to fully grown ones, could be seen in different sections of the base.
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