A Medium Rare Experience at Porsche’s Licence To Thrill

For the first time, a Porsche held race circuit event that wasn’t just about power or grip, speed or lap times.

Believe it or not, the entire LTT idea was conceived during a turbulent flight of 2 very important people from Porsche Asia Pacific, Carl Isenbeck and his then Boss, Martin Limpert who’ve, at the week of LTT, has since moved to Taiwan to form a Porsche subsidiary there.

Carl Isenbeck – Marketing Director, Porsche Asia Pacific Pte Ltd

Full details are sketchy, but according to Carl during his post-LTT Gala Dinner speech, it was during this rough mid-air journey that Martin suddenly said to him, “Hey Carl, everyone talks about racing and racing drivers, why isn’t there an Olympics for motorsport, an arena for the everyday driver? Let’s do one”, and the rest was history.

Martin Limpert – Managing Director, Porsche Asia Pacific Pte Ltd

From then on, Licence To Thrill was born. The search for Porsche 2017 Driver of year was on and the APAC-wide call for entry campaign launched. The buzz was strong, nearly every discerning car enthusiast were quick sign up for a chance at the coveted Driver of the Year title. Yes, I too sign up and completed the complex series of Porsche related quiz.

After all, the ultra exclusive opportunity included all expense paid trip to Sepang Circuit, flights, hotels, the entire thing from whichever country in the region you come from. In total, Porsche Asia Pacific received well over 3600 entries throughout the quarter long duration. Out of which, only 30 very lucky finalists were selected. Including yours truly, although placed within the media contingent consisting 10 individuals, also from APAC.

Upon arriving at the special eve-of-event welcome party, i was then briefed about the full extent of challenges posed to all 40 of us. It’s clear then, none of my race experience or home ground advantage applies here. The Licence to Thrill was to be completely fair and square for all.

It wasn’t until the big day at Sepang Circuit after breakfast, the safety briefings and welcome ceremony, when i physically enter the latest 911 Turbo S in prep for the impending egg breaking challenge that I realised the challenges were designed to bring out the best of Porsches.

In this case, Porsche’s Carbon Ceramic PCCB brakes..

Breaking Challenge

Sounds like a typo but not. In this braking exercise, we were given 2 tries in 2 similar but quite different 911s. We are to launch each car from zero, achieving over 90km/h and then hitting the brakes hard to stop as close as possible to the end point.

The goal here is to not hit Humpty Dumpty, sat on a cone at the end of the braking course. Yes, the challenge is to not break the egg, hence breaking challenge.

911 Turbo S
Smurf Blue
PCCB carbon ceramic brakes

911 Turbo
Steel brakes


This is where I felt the full force from Porsche’s carbon ceramic brakes, the PCCBs. In my recent review of the 991.2 C4S, I mentioned there is no real reason to spec your faithful Porsche with PCCBs except if it were to be driven on the circuit and that they were overkill for the road. How wrong I was, I take that back now.

Review: 2017 Porsche 911 C4S (991.2)

Even in this short 100-150M test course, the difference between carbon and steel brakes were incredibly substantial. We are talking Zerotohundred in under 3 seconds and then coming to a stop in under 30m. Which is only achieveable in the Turbo S with PCCB.

I’d gone out in the Turbo S first in this exercise and have been stopping almost perfectly after the first test run. Just mere inches from the Egg. Brake feel was sublime and the stopping power was unreal. I quickly accepted it was a Porsche thing.

Then, I got into the “regular” 520hp 911 Turbo on steel brakes. At the starting line, noting this was a non S and steel brakes, I was prepared mentally at launch to be a touch earlier on the brakes this time.

Moments after my 3K RPM launch, then summoning the brakes just before my set braking point, I could immediately sense a difference in brake feel, and subsequently the ABS kicking in before coming to a full stop. It was nothing like the PCCBs.

This test actually felt like a workout for the non-S brakes compared to the PCCBs in the Turbo S, even in such a short braking course. It’s mind blowing. Thankfully though, I didn’t kill any chick-to-be.

Water Challenge

Okay, this has to be the most heart pounding course within the event. Imagine having to juggle speed and fluidity, driving the Cayenne Turbo through a motorcross dirt track with a container filled with water, glued onto the bonnet. Needless to say, this challenge is about:

  • Saving as much water as possible to bring to the end of the course
  • Drivers are required to finish the course in under 4 minutes
  • Amount of water left X Complete time will determine brownie points

Full Water Challenge Video Above

As you can see from my video above, first we begin by moving forward to the start / refill posts to get the water container filled by the ground crew. Once ready, we are told to engage “D” and proceed to start the challenge. Time will begin to count once the Cayenne Turbo start to move.

We are not allowed to change any mode or settings to keep the challenge fair. I was told both Cayenne Turbos were set to Sport, as to heighten the difficulty further. However, I can’t confirm this. It sure didn’t feel particularly harsh, assuming we were in Sport mode.

It was a tough challenge to keep the water in because just about any movement will cause it to spill and the more water you have the more uncontrollable the splashes. There must be a sweet spot somewhere waiting to be found but sadly 2 laps are all we had.

I returned to the end point, in both occurrences with only about 1/3 of water left. I heard some people did way better than me and that’s when I knew my chances for DOTY were getting slimmer by the minute.

However, it was indeed a refreshing drive and to have the Cayenne Turbo go off-road through such a demanding dirt course was something to be cherished. The course even included 45 degree banks, steep ascend and descends which really took advantage of the Cayenne Turbo’s off-road abilities. It shows too, how calm and composed it was in its natural habitat as a Porsche SUV, just like the 911 would when being driven on circuit.

Target Time in a Targa 4S!

In this Part 2 of Porsche’s Licence To Thrill challenge, drivers are required to:

  • Set a base lap time during first and only sighting lap
  • The cars? Choice of any 991.2 911 4S models from Coupe to Cab to Targa – Porsche
  • Driving Instructor will decide your target lap time judging from base lap time
  • Target time given can be seconds faster or slower
  • Drivers then set 2 lap times to match target time
  • The 2 lap times are then averaged
  • The closer a driver is to his target lap time, the more the brownie points earned

I chose the Targa mostly because it was the most special of all the 4S’s there. Non of the other 911 inventory there had sunroof to mount my GoPro so the Targa was the best choice.

It is not until I got closer that I saw how sexy the rear glass roof is. It really is unique. I’d seen it at the recent media launch but this one just looked better somehow, especially next to the fat B-Pillar.

Full Video

My instructor Yoong gave me the green light to go. So I went for it, keeping in mind I had to do a repeatable lap time on this north track. I was getting more and more impressed by the Targa as I complete each turn and by the time I was done with the sighting lap, I was hooked to it.

The Targa is basically the latest 2017 991-generation MK2 (991.2) 911. It is a semi convertible with a glass rear top. It is powered by Porsche’s latest 400hp 3L twin turbo flat 6 and is 4WD therefore, Targa 4S.

On top of its 4WD, it also has 4WS, which in my recent road review of the 991.2 C4S, I was blown away by the 4S’s ability to augment its wheelbase at will. At least, that was a result from being able to “steer” the rear wheels to its advantage.

Yoong announced my base time, “1:22”. With that, he then proceeded to reveal my challenge. “your target time is 1:19”. So, that means i have to be 3 seconds quicker in my subsequent hot laps. I have to do 2 runs, while tyring to be as consistent as possible in both laps.


This time Yoong said, “try Sport Plus”. Sport Plus driving mode is toggled via rotary knob on the steering. It has a knurled texture and feels good when turned. Sport Plus literally means more power + everything. First I was worried it was going to mess my consistency at the 2 coming hot laps, but I did it anyway.

This time the car felt even nicer. First was the instant throttle response and then comes the increase in available power, where torque at the exit was just so much more than default. The transformation to track mode via just a button is substantial, as the suspension became much harder thus flatter, and steering became sharper as well, hinting the AWS effect.

The car felt complete, like a track car despite not the purest of 911s, being a Targa top. its engine was incredibly soulful for a Turbo and chassis just glued to the circuit. I was enjoying the drive so much that by the start of lap 2, I was just just in the zone savouring every bit of the 911.

At the end of the challenge, Yoong said I did okay in the first but went too fast in the second. I knew from that moment I’d done badly. Still it didn’t matter, I might not win Driver of the Year, but it sure was the drive of the year for me.

I knew from that moment I’d done badly. Still it didn’t matter, I might not win Driver of the Year, but it sure was the drive of the year for me.


In total, there were 6 challenges we had to complete, each with it’s own unique trait. The points are scored based on a combination of completion time, consistency, finesse and so on.

  1. Breaking Challenge
  2. Water Challenge
  3. Paint the 718
  4. Reverse Gymkhana
  5. Target Time Challenge
  6. Panamera Drawing Challenge

I would tell you everything about painting 718 with a 718 Boxster, the Panamera Drawing Challenge and Reverse Gymkhana, but that would require another post. Do let me know in the comments if you want them 🙂

Hot Lap

At the end of it all, we even get to blind pick a particular Porsche that each of us will get to ride shotgun in. Luckily for me, again, I got the 911 Turbo. Better yet, it was driven by Scott Mansell, a British driver whom i’ve became friends with in recent years. He runs an outfit called Driver61, a platform where he shares his racing knowledge with the world.

So, knowing who’s driving me, I was guaranteed for a thrilling ride on my home circuit in a 911 Turbo. It wasn’t the best of road conditions since it’d rained but just moments earlier but I still had a great time anyhow.



As the challenges came to a close at Sepang just after 5:30pm, all 40 of us were then shuttled to Grand Hyatt KL to spend the night, and the remaining hours of Licence To Thrill where they announce the results and the very capable participant that will be crowned Porsche Driver of the Year.

Alas, the winners of Licence To Thrill were announced and in the media category, Johnathan Lim from Top Gear Singapore took the prize. The guy in a white top just next to me. He walks away with pride, respect and an exclusive Porsche Driver timepiece.


However, the biggest prize, the ultimate title, Porsche Asia Pacific Driver of the Year went to non other than Mohd Elyas from Malaysia. Knowing the hardships, me having been through the same course, he must have conquered each and every challenge with sheer grace and precision. Elyas also wins a ticket to Porsche Experience Center in Los Angeles, USA.

Repost from @hogmot. Glad that you enjoyed the event! “Feeling incredibly proud to be one of 40 men from across apac to compete in the very first Licence to Thrill. It was a mad day out, taking Porsche’s finest through 6 mind bending challenges, utilising every performance aspect inducing their supreme brakes to handling abilities and even in-car features. Was blown away by the Egg Challenge, demonstrating the awesome power of PCCB against steel brakes. That and many more and also the rear view camera, where we had to maneuver a gymkhana course backwards with the rear windscreen blacked out. Especially enjoyed lapping Sepang in the C4S Targa & new Panamera most of all! Above all, big thanks to Porsche Malaysia!” #porsche #licencetothrill #driveroftheyear #zerotohundred @porschecentremy #gopromy #porschecentremalaysia

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