It’s not often an adventure like this comes along. Let me start with that. Our friends at McLaren asked us to join them in Finland for a truly unforgettable experience.
The journey started with a flight to Helsinki and an overnight stay close to the airport. In the morning we found ourselves on a plane further north to Ivalo and way up in Lapland. 20 kilometres south of lake Inari. The settings for this event were nothing short of stunning. Even when we arrived, the snow covered landscape painted a picture that let us know we were in for a treat.
Gallery Of IDOLI
After a ride across the stunning landscape of Ivalo, we arrived for lunch at Design House IDOLI, a special dining experience in a gallery of art and Finnish design. The gallery showcases work from Markku Salo and Jussi Niva. Inside this enchanted winter house, you can find everything from jugs, knives, plates, cups and candle holders made to an incredible grade with Scandinavian flair. Our hosts Hanneli & Pekka Sillfors showed us around and even took us for a lovely coffee in their traditional teepee overlooking the frozen lake. Stunning stuff.
Javri Lodge, Our Very Own Winter Home
Moving on to our home for the coming days, we checked in to Javri Lodge, a place known as “the source of inspiration for Urho Kekkonen, the longest serving President of Finland”. Here we had a beautiful base to relax, dine and of course sleep. It is a stylish, comfortable lodge with gorgeous surroundings and it’s brilliantly designed. For our first night, a dinner was served at home and my did it feel homely. Traditional food, textures and ambience.
Seconds Before Skidding
After a good nights sleep it was finally drive time. We jumped into cars outside the lodge and were chauffeured across to the playground of dreams for a driver.
“Set within the expansive grounds of Test World, a dedicated winter testing facility, the McLaren Ice Driving Centre encompasses a varied set of track configurations, including dynamic straights and challenging twists and turns.”
The drivers briefing took place in the McLaren Kota, which served as our dining room for lunch each day on the facility also. Here is where Danny Buxton, our Drive Team Leader and his team of pro drivers would break down our daily activity and get us out towards the cars.
The Dance On Ice
Finally. The part I’ve been waiting to tell you all about. We now step out on the ice to an incredible array of 570 S Coupes and Spiders in all colours. It’s like Christmas, but a surreal one. The 570 S carries a 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 making 562bhp and 600Nm of torque. You fire through a seven-speed seamless-shift gearbox and the car is, YES, I’M ABOUT TO SAY IT… rear-wheel drive! Fitted with studs in the tires and ready for winter action we finally got in the driver seat.
My instructor for the two intensive driving days was Bradley Ellis, a racing driver with amazing experience and style. We bonded very well, making quick progress on the snowy surfaces before us.
The feeling of driving RWD on low friction surface is one of great pleasure. Feathering the throttle and enjoying each throaty rasp of the V8 McLaren as the tail slides around on the ice just gives me chills. Literally…Well, now that I have the windows open, cold is kind of inescapable. The temperature outside is around -15 Celsius and I’m flying around a handling circuit in this 570 S Coupe with a huge smile on my face. The best thing is that we haven’t even had lunch yet and its day 1. Pure McLaren experiences happen once in a while and the calendar is pretty insane but this event shines out. The visual, sensual and lifestyle element of this trip is everything that you would expect from this amazing manufacturer. If you read our 570 S Spider piece from the launch previously in Barcelona, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
The driving part of the trip finished with another day of intense ice driving and the finale was the amazing GP Circuit which is 2.4km long. Brad got me to a level where I was completely comfortable out of traction. He taught me to use the cars weight and brakes to shift weight around the chassis. He also taught me valuable throttle and steering control. The outcome being faster lap times and serious drifts, which simply went on for minutes at a time.
A Grand Finale
Then it was more dinners and traditional Finnish experiences eating in Restaurant Laanilan Kievari as well as the lodge. Our final cherry on top was a Husky sleigh ride through the stunning landscape of Ivalo. Kuukkelilampi is a husky farm where customers can enjoy authentic sleigh training and a trip through the winter wilderness like no other. What a beautiful end to a beautiful trip.
Special thanks to McLaren for allowing us to share this experience with you.
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Photos Taken With Sony Alpha Cameras