Rallying through the winter with Kumho and Drift & Drive
The prevalence of motorsport and rally involvement amongst tyre manufacturers is testament to its effectiveness as a brand promotion tool. Yet most events, in Europe at least, take place in the summer months, and maintaining a profile through motorsport in the colder part of the year requires a measure of creative thinking. Kumho, through its German operation, did just that and kept its name on the lips of European petrolheads during the winter of 2010/11 through its sponsorship of the ‘Drift & Drive’ rally school in Finland.
As in previous years, Kumho put its support behind the snow and ice winter training event organised and run by former WRC Group N runner-up Uwe Nittel. Unlike the other motorsport events Kumho supports in Europe, such as the F3 Euroseries and the Le Mans Series, Drift & Drive is a completely hands-on event and participants are encouraged to stretch their comfort zone behind the wheel of one of Nittel’s fleet of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions, which are shod with Kumho 225/40 R18 XL 92T tyres adapted for use in Arctic conditions with hand-attached spikes. After receiving driving technique instruction, participants have two solid days to hone their skills before they are put to the test.
Drift & Drive takes place on a 300 hectare site 50 kilometres north of Rovaniemi, way up north in Finland’s Lapland province. Rovaniemi lies on the Arctic Circle and the weather is every bit as frigid as may be expected, yet this icy location offers a very significant advantage – a large section of the course utilised during Drift & Drive is built on a solid frozen lake, and therefore gives participants the unique chance of cutting their rally teeth on a circuit free from trees, embankments and any other obstacles that could ruin the weekend (and a £30,000 Mitsubishi Evo). As the event’s name suggests, ice drifting is the order of the day, and during its visit to Drift & Drive T&A discovered this to be every bit as fun as it sounds – even the inevitable skidding into walls of harmless snow brought forth a grin after the initial surprise had passed.
At the end of two days’ practice, each participant had the opportunity to show off his or her newly-found rally skills. Using pre-prepared pacenotes, drivers set off in pairs on an evening rally challenge, with each driver’s time recorded. Competitive streaks flourished during T&A’s time at Drift & Drive, and Uwe Nittel appeared genuinely impressed with some results. Later, Nittel got the behind the wheel of his own specially-prepared Evo and invited passengers along to witness a rally pro driving on snow and ice. Even without the two days’ driving, this experience alone would have justified the trip north to Rovaniemi.
The successful and fully-booked 2010/11 season is now over, and Kumho is instead enjoying results in numerous summer motorsport championships. Yet those wishing to be more than spectators and engage in some driving and drifting in a 295hp rally car don’t have too long to wait until the next season begins. More information about Drift & Drive can be found on the drift-and-drive.de website.