State borders are open, popular <em>touge</em> routes are legal again, but remember to control the pent-up driving fire

RIP Covid-19, you will not be missed. OK, so the coronavirus hasn’t fully left us yet, but new cases in the single digits and the absence of big infection spikes post-Raya means that the government is comfortable enough to put a de facto end to the movement control order (MCO).

The RMCO (R for recovery, not racing, but more on that later) might still have ‘MCO’ in the name, but from tomorrow, June 10, life will go back to pretty much as we knew it, before SARS-CoV-2 went on a global rampage. The outgoing CMCO (C for conditional) significantly loosened restrictions for businesses and movement, setting the stage for the liberal RMCO. Anyone not looking forward to that haircut?

One of the biggest points of the RMCO vs CMCO is that we’re now allowed to cross state borders without police permission, which means that many of the popular touge driving routes are now “open for business”. Think Ulu Yam to Gohtong Jaya, the run all the way to Genting Highlands itself and Kuala Klawang to the south of Klang Valley, among others.

Car guys – deprived of “proper driving” (and for many, even basic driving) from the months of lockdown – are raring to go, and we’re pretty sure that groups of driving kakis are already planning to exercise their beloved machines after such a long period of hibernation. Your ride is pumped up, and so are you, oh what a feeling!

State borders are open, popular <em>touge</em> routes are legal again, but remember to control the pent-up driving fire

But with so much pent-up driving “fire” and potentially heavy traffic as many seek to lepas gian after so long, there are risks. The usual dangers of fast driving on public roads, in a group, apply, but because of the unique circumstances, it might be heightened. Will Ulu Yam be congested this weekend? I can imagine so, and we’re not even counting the big bikers yet.

There have been no shortage of examples of what can go wrong in a group drive consisting sports cars, supercars or tuned cars, which we’ll just call enthusiast cars in short. The combination of like-minded buddies, high speed and narrow twisty roads is an intoxicating mix, and we all know the appeal of that.

But with varying levels of driving ability in a group, not to mention all sorts of cars at different floors in the horsepower pyramid, things can go wrong if we get carried away. And that’s before taking into account that these are public roads, used by everyone else who aren’t on the road for enjoyment. Yup fellow car enthusiasts, not everyone lights up at the sight of S bends.

So yeah, let’s blow off the cobwebs and go for that drive, but remember to steer within our limits (more often than not we’re the issue, not the car), drive sensibly and be mindful of other road users – it’s not a race track, so please don’t aim for every apex like you’re on one. Remember, it’s a fun drive, not a competitive one.

To drive a performance car to its full potential, we’ll have to head to a circuit, where there are run-off areas and there’s reduced likelihood of innocent parties getting dragged into the mess we might create. I know I will, I’m a cheap drunk.

Organisers like the Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF) offer track days at the Sepang International Circuit, so if you have the spirit of competition and confidence in motion, opt for gymkhana time attack events. MSF aside, other reputable entities like Grass Racing Autosports (GRA) and Sucimuci Motorsports offer the car nut a chance to squeeze out those competitive juices. And these events have categories for all, whether you’re driving a weekend Lotus or daily Lotus-tuned Proton. Jom?

So, as you roll into the hills later tonight, this weekend or the next, enjoy the interaction between man and machine as you row through the gears. Open up your engine after the months of rest and hear her sing, or roar. At the rest stop, admire each others’ rides and talk about your next one. Yes, times aren’t great, to put it very mildly, but never forget the power of dreams.

Do all that while being in control of your car and the situation, and look out for others. The last thing car enthusiasts who love a good road want is the general public to scrutinise our habits and turn the screw.

Over the past few months, the most popular line has been stay home, stay safe. Now that we’re free to roam, let’s drive safe so we can get back home.