Katarina Kyvalova is one of the really fast women behind the wheel. For her, even though racing is just a hobby, everything is on the line once the starting light turns green. It doesn't matter whether she is pushing her pre-war Bentley to the limit in a 24-hour race, is one of the very few women on the starting line-up at the Goodwood Revival or whether she is driving her Cooper T33 on the narrow street circuit at the Historic Grand Prix in Monaco. She has driven almost everything that is fast and fun on ice. And yet this day in the Porsche 911 Turbo S is something special for her: “I have never driven an all-wheel drive vehicle on ice before. I’m very excited to see how the car behaves in the drift and how I can cope with it. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it – at the beginning it’s always a bit like the first time.”
For Jukka Honkavuori, Top Supervisor of the Porsche Ice Experience, these individual training courses are no less exciting: “An individual training course like this is a great experience for every participant – regardless of their background. But it’s definitely helpful to bring a little experience with you – then we can really go into the details during training and work on them.” Katarina also hopes that she can work on her little weaknesses with Jukka: “After four or five years driving on ice, I realise that it's always the same little mistakes that creep in. In my individual training sessions with Jukka, I would like to be able to identify them and get rid of them through targeted training.”
Of course, it’s helpful for learning progress and having fun if the instructor and student speak the same language and have a similar background of experience. Racing experience, for example, according to Katarina: “The experience I bring with me from my races definitely helped me to find common ground with Jukka quite quickly.” Jukka also identifies commonalities: “Of course, the pressure when driving on ice is not the same as when you push yourself to the limit on the race track. But when it comes to precision, concentration and basic techniques, yes, there are a lot of similarities that you can transfer from the racetrack to the ice track.”
So do you have to be a race car driver and have special prerequisites for such individual training? Not at all! Sometimes the desire for a few individual sessions springs up quite spontaneously. It's often guests who have just got the hang of the curves during a three-day programme in a group who then say: ‘Hey, it would be great if I could take what I've learned now a little further,’' explains Jukka. From the instructor's point of view, these are the perfect candidates for making rapid learning progress together and having a lot of fun at the same time.
For Katarina, the first laps in the all-wheel drive vehicle were a bit like learning to walk: “It's actually more difficult to get an all-wheel into a controlled drift. But once I got the hang of it, it was a lot more fun because you can drive the car much harder than a rear-wheel drive.”
What role does individual talent play in this – or in other words, can training be replaced by talent? Here, too, Katarina has a clear view of things: “I think in any motor sport it is possible to achieve a lot and to be successful through intensive training. But the last bit that ultimately distinguishes a pro from ‘just’ a good driver is talent. You have to be born with it. Or maybe it just helps if you're Scandinavian to get the best out of ice,” she laughs.
Seen in this light, it’s no wonder that she admits over a relaxed glass of wine in the evening that her first lap in the passenger seat with Jukka was one of her absolute highlights: “I was very impressed! It is unbelievable to see how calm Jukka is at the wheel in the spectacular drift. His calmness, his routine, the speed he can achieve – that was more than impressive! In a single lap he really hits the nail on the head! For me it was definitely one of the best hot laps I've ever experienced! I think I need to relax a little tomorrow.” There are also plenty of opportunities for this as part of individual training at the Porsche Ice Experience, depending on temperament. After what we've learned about her, are we surprised that Katarina decided to go on a fast-paced husky tour through the Finnish forests?
Text first published in the Porsche magazine STORIES.
Author: Berthold Dörrich
Photos: Jere Satamo
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