The mundane routine of daily life, especially in the Klang Valley, is borderline insane. The same jobs, the same office politics, and that insane car exhibition laughably called the ‘rush hour’ is more than enough to drive a man mad! Everyone needs an outlet, a means to break free. There must be some activity or something to look forward to that will make all this routine bearable.
We don’t know how the rest of you take it but here at Route Hunters we maintain our sanity with one thing and one thing only, driving. Nothing resets our mind, body and soul like a carefree drive in the early morning roads into the rural countryside of our beautiful nation. We are known for quick drives up roads like Kuala Kelawang, Janda Baik, and Fraser Hill, but like any addiction, you always crave for something more stronger…..
Enter the Grand Turismo, a run that needs to clock 300 km and above in a single day, mostly covering more than one state. Our first Grand Turismo event took place in 2015, with all participants getting ready at an absurd 4.30am start time and Chevrolet Malaysia joining in with their highly capable Malibu. The run was such a fan favourite that we knew it was no one off item. Therefore in 2016, amidst a busy and eventful year, we set out on our 2nd GT event, the Central Pahang 500.
The brief for this Grand Turismo was very simple, 500 km into the heart of Pahang, 5pm start time from Publika, and if all went well, we would be dining on some fresh Patin masak tempoyak in Temerloh for lunch. Regardless of how ridiculous the start time, Route Hunter members never fail to amaze me, showing up at ungodly hours, on time. Walkie’s tuned in, cars lined up and warmed, we hit the road from Publika at 5.30am to Bentong.
Publika to Raub
From Publika it was a steady cruise to Bentong and towards the gold mine town of Raub after a quick stop at BHP Karak. Karak Highway at 6am is dreamy. Void of traffic, filled with combustion friendly, oxygen dense air, and not to mention the misty ambience you get when driving over the Titiwangsa range. After turning off at the Bentong toll, it’s a straight march through Bentong town proper and towards Raub via Route 8, which cuts across Lurah Bilut. We have done this route before in the first GT, and the morning view you get on either side of this straight never fails to amaze. All you see on your right is the mist shrouded plantation fields and the pink-coloured glow of the rising sun. Worth to ease off the loud pedal just to soak into the view, with some Norah Jones.
BHP Raub to Dong
Yes that is a real place in Pahang, Dong. Essentially we were revisiting Episode 5, and adding a couple of new routes if possible. The BHP station gave some of us a chance of filling up the fuel tanks and emptying our tanks. A quick photo session later, it was time to hit the actual course. The trek to Dong is best described as unremarkable as it’s already 7am and most of the folks are up on their weekend routine. It’s the same trunk road 8 leading to Kuala Lipis, therefore traffic is moderate. Once you turn of at Dong to Ulu Dong via the C144 though, it’s once again refreshing mountain air and slowly the traffic disappears, bar one or two villagers. We stopped once more at the junction of the C159
Dong to Jerantut
Episode 5 relived! The 2 hour drive from KL was all worth it once we reached this stretch of the trip. After dividing the group into two, above 200bhp and below 200bhp, we proceeded towards Jerantut. The C159 gave a tremendous workout to all the cars and drivers that came along for the drive, with steep descents and well sighted corners. All we heard in the lead GTi was the unmistakable NA rasp of a 3.8 liter flat 6. Pressure indeed!
The C159 joins the Benta – Jerantut linking Route 64. Route 64 is a continuous set of switchbacks that are not too intense with plenty of not-so-straights to ensure drivers get plenty of rest before attacking more curves. The Porsche and Megane were at ease here, with plenty of torque and long gearing easily helping them to maintain a steady cruise. More so in the Porsche which I had stated before in Episode 5, suited this road.
As we rolled into Jerantut, ironically into another BHP station, our wheels were full of brake dust and we were pumping with adrenaline. As one of our comrades suffered a puncture, we chilled at the gas station until his car was fixed.
Bonus Round – Jerantut to Maran to Temerloh
At this point in the drive, 10.30am, we had two options. There was a road that will lead us straight to Temerloh from Jerantut, nice and easy, or option 2, to trek further into the Felda developments heading to Maran via the 64. No prizes for guessing which route we took….
I don’t know if it was the heat building up mid-day, or the prospect of a plateful of Tempoyak, or the excitement from each other was contagious, this piece of road was a fire starter!
None of us were quite prepared to what we had stumbled upon. I spent most of my early years in Pahang but there was no reason to use this road, or I probably forgotten about it toying at the back seat of a Proton Saga. This road was amazing!
If we had removed the tarmac though it would be a perfect high speed rally stage. This was a course that would be truly suited for mid-to-high level performance cars, Megane RS to R8 onwards. A 911 Turbo would set the tarmac on fire here, so would an Impreza or an E92 335i. Its constant switches to sudden tightening turns and then a blast of easy rights and easy lefts hauls you into warp speed before you deal with the next consecutive left and rights.
As the road cuts through palm oil plantations, there were plenty of camber assisted cornering and also plenty of tightening corners with sheer drops into the plantation at blind exits. We would not at all recommend this course to the hasty or those who let ego get the better of them. A small mistake is all it takes to change an amazing drive to accident of the week for daerah jerantut.
This piece of tarmac is only recommended for the seasoned Route Hunter, not beginners.
Our cool off point was the famous Maran temple, which is one of the hotspots for Thaipusam in Malaysia. On this day however the temple provided the much needed shelter for us to catch our breath and cool our cars. After a quick review of the road we proceeded to join Route 2 and head to Temerloh. We could have stuck to the LPT but where’s the fun in that right? Tracing back those old Pahang trunk roads were both nostalgic and satisfying. Especially when you’re riding shotgun in a 380bhp Porsche…..
Ok despite calling Mentakab home till I was 9 I had no clue to what Ikan Patin masak Tempoyak was. Apparently it’s the speciality of the town and Temerloh is famous for its Patin fish. After a small tour around this riverside town, we ended up at a cosy little joint and devouring some delicious Malay cuisine at just about 12.30 noon.
As we cleaned our plates, we looked back at the entire journey. Most motoring enthusiasts are ridiculed at for buying expensive, impractical, and sometimes socially questionable cars. Then we also mocked for hinting any form of spirited driving. People question the need for such cars, the use of their performance, and are quick to dismiss that this is the wrong country to drive around in any form of enthusiasm.
After 500km into Pahang, all we realized is that this country we call home, is still riddled with tonnes of motoring treasure chests that are waiting to be discovered. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a Korean hatchback or German sports car, as long as the person behind the wheel is dedicated, enthusiastic and decent at steering and pedal works, fun is just a drive away. Till the next drive…..