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Rookies on Ice

Father and son go drifting

01 April 2022 | Member stories

After several more or less fast laps on the Nordschleife, we want more for 2022: For Christmas, we will treat ourselves to membership of the Pistenclub. As a preliminary step to a few trackdays, we want to get to know the physical possibilities and limits of our vehicles at relaxed speeds during winter drift training in Muhr.
  • Text:
    Dominik Kisskalt
  • Photos:
    TR Fotografie

On Friday, after an early evening, we set off south from Nuremberg and Munich. When we arrive in the picturesque, snow-covered St. Michael im Lungau, the temperature is a frosty -8°C. After a short check-in, we went straight to the nearby pub. There we already meet the first participants and instructors of tomorrow's training. Over Wiener Schnitzel and Cordon Bleu we imagine what the next day will be like. Little did we know how much our expectations would be exceeded.

272685481 4972761756118122 616820799570776090 nDrivers' briefing in perfect winter weather.

The next morning we had an early start: drivers' meeting at 9 am in the Muhr valley, about ten minutes away. At -10°C, we de-iced the cars and got everything up to operating temperature. Since we had never been to a Pistenclub event before and didn't know the procedures, we didn't want to arrive too late. In short, we were there much too early, which turned out to be more of an advantage. This gave us enough time for registration and a lively exchange with the staff of the Pistenclub, even beyond the event. Everything was extremely uncomplicated and all on the same wavelength. 27 participants took part in these two days. A motley bunch of vehicles and characters, from the historic Ford Escort rally car to the 600 hp Audi RS6. Here, as we were to notice even more clearly in the course of the two days, it doesn't matter what vehicle, drive concept or level of experience one is on the road with. Fun is guaranteed in any case. What really surprised us was the number of participants who took part in this training for the second, third or even fourth time. As a small highlight, a replica Audi S1 sport quattro was rolled off the trailer while we were still gathering for the drivers' meeting. I don't think I need to explain any further at this point why the start of the drivers' meeting was delayed somewhat. The only thing missing was "Walter", but we had missed him by one day... After the drivers' meeting, we were divided into three groups. We signed up for the "rookie group", as we had not yet been able to gain any experience on ice. The practice courses were always ridden first behind the instructor once or twice so that everyone knew the course. On the first track, under the instructions of instructor Manfred, we first slowly felt our way to the limits of our vehicle and tried out how to get the vehicle across. With the control systems switched off, of course.

272685481 4972761756118122 616820799570776090 nDominik Kisskalt in the Golf R on the handling course.

Manfred first watched the action from the outside during the first laps and then got into the passenger seat to give the first personal tips. After about 20 to 30 minutes, we moved on to the next exercise, classic slalom driving. Here it was particularly interesting to observe how well you can motivate the vehicle to oversteer by pressing the accelerator pedal or lightly tapping the brake at the right moment. This was an important insight, especially with regard to my all-wheel drive Golf 7 R, in order to get or keep it in drift. We also spent about 20 to 30 minutes on this exercise, alternating between driving through the slalom and driving back to the starting point over a curvy ice track. Then we went on to the third and final exercise for the morning: swerving on ice at different speeds. Two pylon gates were set up for this purpose, which you had to drive through at different speeds, and when passing the first gate you had to brake fully to a standstill. We started at a speed of 40 to 50 km/h, which was easily doable, and then increased our speed more and more. At around 75 km/h, however, the limit of our tyres for this surface was reached.

272685481 4972761756118122 616820799570776090 nThe driving sections were marked out with pylons.

Nevertheless, it was very impressive to see how high the grip of normal winter tyres is on this prepared ice track (as long as the sun doesn't shine on it!). After a short refreshment at the Messenwirt in Muhr, two of the tracks were combined into one large track in the afternoon, so that a total of two large circuits were available for drifting. The participants split up between the two tracks, and after a while they were free to switch between the tracks depending on which one they liked better or where there was less action. What we were particularly enthusiastic about during the free driving was that we had the opportunity to slowly develop a feeling for drifting by driving for longer periods at a time and thus to get into the flow, to carry the momentum from curve to curve, so that it was like a fluid ballet to drive. It was also good to observe that with increasing practice, the cranking on the steering wheel became much less with the same or even greater drift angle. You can just steer so much with the pedals when driving across. It was a real pleasure when you managed to negotiate the first few bends in one go and still hit the apex to some extent. It was no longer a case of reacting to the vehicle, but more like "normal" driving again, only of course with 100 times more fun.

img 0453Our experienced instructors were on hand to offer advice and support.

Here, too, a short coffee break was taken after about 40 minutes. Here it was possible to have a wonderful exchange with other participants. All in all, we only had to pull one participant out of the snow twice on the first day. The heavy equipment in the form of a tractor with snow chains could stay in the barn.

As always when you're really having fun, the first day ended far too quickly and we reluctantly made our way back to our holiday flat around 4pm. All of a sudden, driving a normal car on the road felt somehow strange, there was something missing about driving across the bend.

img 0478In the drift circle, the rear-wheel drive BMW M2 Competition was able to show off its strengths.

The second day had a similar structure as the first, but here the focus was much more on free riding on the two large tracks. Nevertheless, we warmed up with two small driving exercises under the guidance of the instructors. On one track, we practised the "agent turn" (accelerate backwards, turn in, continue forwards). On the other track, a large roundabout was prepared, which could be driven in succession in order to drift the vehicle in a circle. Here the rear-wheel drive M2 Competition could show its full strength. It was a challenge for my four-wheel drive to keep the vehicle transverse over a longer period of time, as the platform tends to understeer rather than oversteer.

Afterwards, free driving was again the order of the day. In the course of the afternoon, the ranks of participants thinned out considerably due to the sometimes quite long journeys. As Franconian southerners, we didn't have that far to go, so we took full advantage of the time.

272685481 4972761756118122 616820799570776090 nAfter two days of a varied driving programme, everyone agreed: thumbs up for the winter training.

Summary: It was simply gigantic! Now we can understand why some participants take part in such a training course several times and we can say that it will certainly not be the last time for us. In this sense, many thanks to the staff of the piste club who made the two perfectly organised days possible and see you next year in the Muhr valley. Stop! There are still a few more trackdays in our calendar this year...

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  • Dominik Kisskalt

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