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‘Driving on ice is both messy and phenomenal’

Industrialist Gautam Singhania on his recent driving expedition near the Arctic Circle.
Hindustan Times | By Nikhil Hemrajani, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAR 10, 2011 05:14 PM IST

Not content with having launched India’s first ‘supercar’ club as well as having given Mumbai its first dirt racetrack near Khopoli last month, Gautam Singhania, chairman and MD of Raymond Group, is busy doing wheel spins on frozen lakes in Northern Sweden.

As part of the racing programme Laponie Ice by French company Cap Maitrise, Singhania recently went on a three-day excursion to Arjeplog, Sweden where he raced high-end sports cars like the Porsche GT3 and Mitsubishi Evo. Like Mumbai’s AutoMission, Cap Maitrise also conducts specialised rides on simulated racing tracks – only difference being that they have more supercars than the average billionaire enthusiast.

"Sweden is the country of lakes, with over 9000 of them. Arjeplog, a small town close to the Arctic Circle, is the winter testing ground for all automobile manufacturers. If you add up the lakes’ circumferences, you get 7 kms of coastline," says Singhania. "In the winter, these lakes are frozen with ice that is over a metre in thickness, making them ideal for high-speed driving. We had three days of intense training on doing 200 kmph on straight sections and 100 kmph around corners on slippery ice, which is a phenomenal experience!"

But driving on vast expanses of ice often leaves you with a lot of dirty work to do as well. “If you mess up a turn, and I did quite often, you simply crash into the snow bank, which has about three feet of snow. Then you shovel your way out,” he says, before enlisting his favourite drives. “Last year we drove up the fabulous Stelvio Pass (Eastern Alps, Italy). We went from Innsbruck, Austria up the pass to Lake Como in Italy. It’s one of the most beautiful passes I’ve driven through.”

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