Ice Driving – Land Rover Experience, Salzburg
Testing out the capabilities of the vehicles on snow, the Journey of Discovery team joined Land Rover Experience in Austria in preparation for the mountain pass drives they will encounter later in the journey to Beijing.
In the course of its 8,000-mile voyage the Land Rover Journey of Discovery will tackle every type of terrain imaginable, from the smooth urban roads of Europe to rutted potholes in Ukraine, the ice-bound mountain passes of the Alps and Carpathian mountain ranges and the wild plains of Kazakhstan.
With such a huge variety of roads ahead, the team took time out in Austria to catch up with the guys from the Land Rover Experience just outside of Salzburg for some timely pointers on handling tough driving conditions.
Lead Instructor Ernest Loidl, a former World Rally Championship competitor and veteran of several Paris Dakar rallies was our host for this little lesson, and as we saddled up with him in one of his own Discovery’s for an introductory session he told us we’d come to the right place.
“In Austria we have a lot of snow, a lot of ice, and here on our track you can play with all of this. On your trip you will be driving on a lot of loose and unpredictable surfaces – the conditions we have here are the perfect place to practice.”
He also reminded us the skills he was teaching weren’t just for ambitious trips like ours.
“Whether it’s driving your family on holiday or just going to the shops, being able to cope with the unexpected behind the wheel is useful all the time.”
And with that he planted his right foot and we were away as the lesson began with Loidl reminding us that no matter how much technology and how many driver aids we now have at our disposal, the driver is still the most important part of the equation.
“The first thing to focus on in any driving situation is the driver. You must be alert, relaxed, looking as far ahead as possible and ready to react. If the driver is not paying attention then you are in trouble before you begin,” he explained.
Then as we drove around the track, Loidl explained how to deal with the perils of a sliding car and emergency braking when grip was compromised.
“If you slide you want to reduce the speed because speed will make your problems worse, so come off the gas and, if you can, also use the brakes, but gently.”
Whenever any steering correction was needed Loidl stressed the importance of never overcompensating.
“Only turn the wheel the amount you would for the turn you are planning, just point the wheels where you want to go,” he told us.
As for braking, it was a case of firmly applying the anchors and letting the ABS take the strain while simultaneously steering as far out of any trouble as possible.
After this the team took their own turns behind the wheel, lapping the course with ever-widening grins before heading to Loidl’s other playground, the slalom course. Snowbound, flat, and with almost endless runoff, this was the ideal place to indulge in rally driving fantasies while also getting a perfect feel for just how our cars behaved when seriously pushed in treacherous conditions.
It had been an excellent few hours and we’d all learnt a lot, not only about how we should deal with the more challenging sections that lay ahead, but also about just how reassuringly capable the Discovery is when it comes to dealing with the rough stuff.
Follow us on our journey and please help us reach our target.
Find out more at www.landrover.com/million
Short daily blogs, images and videos (where possible) are available on an ongoing basis throughout the journey, available on request.
An Avalanche story with a selection of images and a 3-minute online and broadcast video is also available on request.
ABOUT THE JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY
To celebrate the millionth Discovery and to showcase the vehicle’s unique versatility and breadth of capability, Land Rover’s Journey of Discovery will cover 8,000 miles in 50 days from its birthplace in Birmingham, UK to one of its fastest growing markets, Beijing in China. It aims to raise £1 million for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The journey will pass through 13 countries – UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China – focusing on interesting stories en-route to provide engaging video, image and written content. This will include joining avalanche teams in the Alps, driving through a Cold War submarine city and even joining a trip into the heart of Chernobyl.
ABOUT THE FUNDRAISING PROJECT
The Journey of Discovery expedition aims to raise £1,000,000 (GBP) for Land Rover’s Global Humanitarian Partner, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The money will be used to support a much needed water sanitation project in Uganda (www.landrover.com/million).
This is in addition to the three-year global initiative “Reaching Vulnerable People Around the World”. This initiative, launched in 2010, provides additional support for IFRC programmes in over 15 countries worldwide.