The MSF-R3 Lady Racers Search and Mentor Programme conducted its most recent training course at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) in Serdang, Selangor last Sunday, where its participants got the chance to greatly improve their car control and understanding of vehicle handling.

To that end, the programme’s participants worked on aspects such as proper seating and steering methods, corner vision and weight transfer management when driving through corners. This is to facilitate taking control of the car when driving at its limit and inducing its movements, instead of reacting to situations already happening, which loses the driver time as a result.

Two contrasting cars were provided by Proton R3 for use in the programme – an original Proton Satria Neo R3 styling prototype which served in the development of the hatchback’s bodykit and interior styling, alongside the current, facelifted Proton Persona 1.6.

The Satria Neo was used for teaching complete car control as it did without present-day active safety features such as stability control, while the Persona offered a contrasting perspective with its electronic stability control and electronic brake force distribution (EBD), providing a reference point for modern cars with active safety features.

The first exercise for the MSF-R3 programme participants was for braking and turning. Here, drivers were taught to use the car’s brakes to induce an oversteer moment to enable later braking and to sharpen turn-in, aimed at achieving a quick entry and quick exit through corners.

“Normal drivers would use the brakes in a straight line when approaching a corner to slow down. This technique uses the brakes while turning into the corner to scrub speed, while moving the rear of the car into the ideal position to power out along the optimal racing line,” said MSF-R3 driving instructor and JUWITA club president, Azrina Jane.

The next exercise, dubbed ‘staggered gates’, featured cones laid out to comprise a series of tightening left- and right-hand turns. “It is important that they learn to balance the vehicle carefully as the suspension is heavily loaded and the brakes are required to slow the car and tighten the driving line at the limit, to not scrub the tyres which leads to premature tyre-wear. This course is to make sure they can keep the car in check right at the edge of grip,” said MSF principal Adian Yein.

This was run concurrently with another exercise – you may have heard of the name – called the Scandinavian Flick, otherwise known as the pendulum turn. This entails deliberately upsetting the car’s balance in order to induce oversteer, and is done by releasing the brakes on turn in to create a pendulum moment which swings the car into the corner.

This is most commonly used by rally drivers, though it also teaches car control and adds confidence in understanding how a car can be made to dance with the use of dynamic weight transfers, added Adian.

The final layout for the session involved a timed autocross, which brought together a combination of prior exercises conducted and requiring participants to make use of all the skills taught as result. Here, it starts with a high-speed entry into the staggered gates section, followed by an S-curve section going into a hairpin. Drivers were timed and observed by their instructors, although run times were not the ultimate objective.

“We are looking for fast drivers, but imperatively they need to be able to manage the car and tyre performance over the 1,000-km race,” said Proton R3 chief Gary Lee.

Onwards from the car control clinic, participants of both the Lady Racers Search and the Mentor Programme will take on a second karting session to further hone their on-track dogfighting skills, after which the Mentor Programme will conclude and the Lady Racers Search candidates will move on to the next selection phase at the Sepang International Circuit, where they will be driving the Proton R3 race cars.

The final phase of the programme will see the selected lady racers contest in the Sepang 1000KM race at the end of this November. Stay tuned as the MSF-R3 driver development programme unfolds!