AMG cars, Lappi tires with 2mm spikes, IWC watches and ice. Very thick ice. The perfect ingredients for the AMG Winter Sporting Experience.
Some weeks ago we received an invite from IWC Schaffhausen to join them on an event in the Northern Part of Sweden. Last time we went to Sweden we’ve been sailing racing yachts. We return again for some high paced action, but it will be on frozen water this time. This part of Sweden offers testing grounds for various car manufacturers and it is the home of the AMG Driving Academy. Doing some homework we realized this would not just be your average press event. Temperatures of around -16 degrees Celsius during the day were to be expected. So here is what happened at the AMG Winter Sporting Experience.
From the airport we travel further up North to a small village called Arjeplog. Which is located roughly 100km’s below the arctic circle. From the AMG Lodge, located on a mountain, we have an amazing view over the winter landscape and various frozen lakes already. Later that day we are introduced to the AMG team and briefed about what to expect the coming days. We will be driving, or better said drifting, various AMG cars over different tracks. To be able to do this the cars are fitted with special Lappi tires with 2mm spikes. The ice itself is about 50~70cm thick, which is enough to hold the weight of an airliner. We finish the first day outside where some of us face the harsh cold winter weather to witness the Northern Lights. At first it’s not clearly visible but after midnight it clearly shows as a spectacular light show.
The next morning we head off to the garage where all the cars are parked and maintained (which is necessary as we learned quickly) during the winter season. We start our adventure in the Mercedes AMG C63s. After a short drive we find ourselves on the lake and on the first track. All tracks have different layouts and vary in difficulty and width. Some are really narrow, allowing for little mistakes. Time for us to get used to having 510 BHP onder your right foot on ice. Having ESP on the car is quite easy to drive but the fun begins when our instructor tells us to switch it off. All horse power goes straight to the rear wheels now. Cornering and using the throttle has to be done with a bit of care or you end up stuck on the snow banks or, if you are lucky, you go through and find your way back on the track. Getting stuck happened to all of us. When you start pushing the limits you will find them at some point. If you were lucky the car could be pushed back on track with the help of your team mates. For those less fortunate moments you would have to call one of the AMG G-Wagons to pull you out. This would result in having your pass punched and losing a point.
In the afternoon we change to the AMG A45 4-matic which has permanent four-wheel drive. Different handling and it takes some time to get used to it. Where the rear-wheel driven AMG requires you to get off the throttle to get it back under control, the A45 asks for more throttle to keep it on track. Kind of the opposite of what you expect to do. Something we get used to after some laps and we find ourselves going faster and faster around the track. We end the day in the CLS 63S Coupé. With 585 BHP this is the most powerful ride during this event.
During day 2 of the AMG Winter Sporting Experience we continue our training program with the help of our team captain Markus Lungstrass. With little tweaks he helps us getting faster and have better control over the cars. In the afternoon we take part in the AMG Competition to show what we have learned so far. On a rally like stage we have to drift an 8-shape and get points for linking turns while drifting. From that we do a high speed slalom followed by an icy track. At the end there is a large circle and after the exit we have to come to a complete stop between sets of cones. With only a few practice runs we feel the adrenaline rushing during the timed runs. Quite the experience and a lot of fun!
With an overcast sky and snowy conditions it is hard to see the track at some moments as everything out there is turning completely white. As this happens the track also gets more slippery by the minute. So when we finish the day racing the Mercedes AMG GT S I get my first crash point. Coming out of a corner too fast the car spins and hits the snowbank where it gets stuck. So we have to call the G-Wagon to the rescue!
On the final track day of the AMG Winter Sporting Experience we put everything we’ve learned into the laps. Crazy to see yourself connecting corners while drifting sideways. Quite the experience and honestly saying would have never thought being able to do this in such a short period. We’ve learned so much on car handling and control in extreme condition. Pushing the limits feels comfortabel in these safe conditions, where getting stuck in the snow is the worst that can happen.
During a short break the winners of the AMG Competition in each group are announced. Surprisingly we managed to be amongst the four fastest drivers and get to compete in the ‘race of champions’. The smallest circle shaped circuit has been changed into an inner and outer track which crosses at the start/finish. One team races the inner circle first and laps the outer track until the finish line and vice versa. After getting two full practice runs it’s time for the final races. We all got to race twice to determine our final position from 4th to 1st place. While feeling the pressure of the competition, everyone was watching the race, and the adrenaline rushing we managed to keep the car under control and finished the race in 1st place!
Later that night before diner we had the chance to join our team captains for a ride in the ‘Ice Taxi’. Quite a funny description for something that is actually a race spec AMG complete with roll bar. Securely strapped into the seats we got to experience how professional race drivers drive on ice. Crazy to say the least. Corners are set in, meters before they actually begin and the speed is insane. After this ride we enjoy diner and later that night the award ceremony takes place where we proudly receive the first place award.
Getting back into your own car is quite the setback after racing these powerful AMGs for days in a row. However, the AMG Winter Sporting Experience was an amazing event and we have learned quite some things on car handling and driving in extreme conditions. We had an amazing time and would like to thank IWC Schaffhausen and AMG Driving Academy for this great opportunity and truly epic experience. The hashtag for this event couldn’t have been more spot-on, for sure it combined it all saying #IWCAMGOMG!
Bert Buijsrogge has worked in the real-estate business for 15 years and combined his passion for watches and photography over the years. He became famous for his watch photography and created a specific branded watch calendar for a number of... read more