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ICE DRIVING IN FINLAND                                                                             IAN CROOKS


It all started after a dice down the N1 with Natasha from Porsche in Joburg. When we arrived at Porsche Centre she said ‘that Cayenne of yours is pretty quick’!! We got chatting and she told me about the Ice driving experience to which I replied, ‘put me down for it!

I received all the forms etc in September and the booking was made together with my flights to a little know town called Kittila some 270km inside the Arctic Circle.

On 16th February 2019 ‘Adventurer’ Crooks was taken to the airport by his daughter Carly but as we were driving my 7-year-old granddaughter Jaime said,” Gaga, do you know what Mummy said to Daddy before we collected you? She said that you’re too old to be doing these long journeys!!!” To which Carly said, “No I didn’t!” A short argument ensued until Carly’s admittance!! Needless to say, I didn’t let her forget it the whole trip!!

Kittila; -7C and snowing and we were then taken to Levi Ski Resort (rebranded as a Porsche hotel for the January to March period) After the welcome dinner, 10 excited but exhausted South Africans headed to bed, ready for a 7am start the next day.

After breakfast the next day, we met our Instructor Jorg Wiese (no relation to Christo!) and his lovely assistant Tanya who would spend the next three day scooping out snow from the cooling openings all around the cars! Poor girl, it was about -15 most of the time!! We were briefed on what to expect and told of Rally Flick, Drifting, Neutral drift, and the usual under/oversteer

We then went to the track and the cars were all in a large barn. All were GTS models, 911S 9114S Cayman GTS and Panamera Sport GTS. Well, it was intimidating, to say the least, until we got the feel of the conditions, but once done we started to have a lot of fun, especially for me with the traction control turned off. Natasha preferred to have the sport setting. We had 5 laps each until the first 1,5 hours was completed and then back to the barn and coffee and pastries and change of vehicle.

Next was the 911 GTS and we did the figure of eight and flick square courses, incredible to drive and drift this car and feel its response through your backside!! We didn’t need a Cayenne to tow us out as we didn’t get stuck although we certainly remodelled the course and the cones on a few occasions! All the time it was snowing hard and the wind was strong, the snowflakes were horizontal most of the time and -8 to -15!!

 Lunch was a very welcome event as we were all starving and the food was superb.

Afternoon was more of the same and we were lucky to retain our 911GTS and the time disappeared so quickly and the first day was over, or nearly so! Now we were suited up to ride Snow Mobiles for some 35 km through forests and over frozen lakes to a fantastic restaurant in a nearby village. The snow mobiles were fun, but as they had a push accelerator, every time I hit a bump on the tracks I thought I was going to get airborne! And when accelerating I needed to hold on tight or I would have been left behind by my machine!! End of day1

Ice Driving continued Day 2

It had been snowing all night and still was, 20 cm of snow covered the area making it very difficult to see the courses, luckily the red poles appeared above the snow drifts and where the snow plough had attempted to clear! More skills training. Arms and legs get loads of exercise, but the adrenalin rush has to be experienced to be believed!

We used all four models this day and the Cayman being so light literally danced around the courses. The Panamera although large and heavy was a lot of fun specially when doing the oval one corner drifting, sideways at 40-50kph and still in control was a great feeling!! I found that I could control the cars far better with the traction control turned off than when it was either on or partially. Probably because when I learned to drive there were no traction controls or drivers aids except a brake and accelerator!!

Day 3

Today the sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky, cool breeze and the tracks are shining and slippery like wet glass!!

The photos explain better than words, our experiences, having been told that this is where we put into practice what we had learned! Drifting a Panamera on a slalom and oval track must rate very high but driving the forest Courses with high banks of snow on either side and only the red marker pole tops visible is my number 1!! This was the only time I needed a Cayenne to pull out of a drift.

The farewell dinner was followed by a huge bonus for all. We were able to see the Northern Lights or as its’ correct name Aurora Borealis. This happened for the first time for three weeks and usually when the moon is full, it’s not visible. God was on our side, and in spite of the temperature being -27 we stayed outside for over an hour viewing this phenomenon.

Words don’t do justice to the experience, fun, camaraderie and friendships which were forged I cannot recommend this experience highly enough. If you love driving in unusual conditions, do this!

It was an unforgettable experience, “Cheers and here’s to the Porsche family of friends!”