Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sam Williams - Correspondent [Taiwan]

Hello! My name’s Sam, I’m from the UK and I’ve been into anything and everything with an engine since, well... forever. My first memories of falling in love with engines date back to when I was just a kid, a very small kid... a 1 year old baby in fact (My memory is pretty good!). All I wanted to do was visit the local fire station and look at those huge red fire trucks, and we’d go day after day, week after week, just so that I could stare wide-eyed at them for what felt like hours on end. Until one day, I remember, one of the firemen was kind enough to pick me up and sit me in the cab. And there it was, a lifetime passion was born.

OK, I’ve pretty well moved on from fire trucks now, but mention anything with an engine and you’re sure to have me interested. Anything from cars to bikes and from tractors to lawn mowers... well maybe not lawn mowers, but you get the idea.

It was pretty hard for me to get much involvement with cars as a kid; none of my close family were particularly interested in these beautiful mechanical creatures, so I would satisfy my passion by playing countless hours of the classic Playstation series, Gran Turismo, and drawing lots of not so beautiful pictures of my dream cars.

I finished secondary school at the age of 17, and suddenly found myself faced with that daunting task of taking my first steps out into the big wide world. I was sure I wanted to do something with cars, and after a little bit of patience I managed to get myself a voluntary job at a local motorsport company; ADR Motorsports (now JRM-Group).

It was a bit of a dream job for me and at the time they were contracted by Mitsubishi UK to run their works rally team and competed in the British Rally Championship and the Pirelli International Rally. Just imagine a garage packed with Mitsubishi Evo monsters. We had 2 works cars, 3 customer cars and one very special machine; one of Tommi Makinen’s ex-WRC cars, but now tuned to in excess of 650bhp!

At first I spent my time there stuck upstairs sorting out parts, but even that was a bit like being a kid in a candy store,
One day, I was asked by one of the engineers if I would like to come out “testing” with him, in one of the works cars. Of course I jumped at the opportunity, and off we went to some quiet country back lanes, where I soon learned that “testing” was actually just code for “thrash it in the name of fun”.

From then on I was given the duties of carrying out basic maintenance on the cars, you know, the usual stuff; oil changes, fluid changes, cleaning etc. And I suppose this is where I started to learn about the more hands on side things.

That year proved to be quite a year for me on the car front, as it was also when I got my driving licence, and this of course means ( for a car lover at least) time to get a first car!

Now unfortunately this is where things started to get a little less promising... After weeks spent looking through adverts and researching which car I was going to get, it sort of inevitably ended up being mother’s poor old Peugeot 306, and no it wasn’t a GTi-6, it was a 1.9 diesel... naturally aspirated. Not exactly a teenagers dream car, huh?

To be fair, it served me well for the year or so I had it. I’d spend countless nights tearing around the twisting back roads as fast as that poor old engine would take me. Having a slow car can be a good thing in a way, I found out that what you lack in straight line speed, you soon learn to make up for in the corners, and it was in this car that I learned a few slightly more advanced driving techniques, such as how to heel-and-toe and left foot braking.

I met Ben at a car meet during a 3 month stay in Singapore, where luckily he agreed to take me on-board as part of the POWAA team. These days you’ll find me a little further east, in Taiwan, where I’m making it my mission to explore and uncover the country’s ever-growing car scene, so stay tuned!

Check out all my coverages here!

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