To many, Val Thorens is all about ski resorts and skiing. In fact, that is the reason why many tourist flock to Val Thorens in the snowy Alps in Europe. But there is actually an ice driving circuit there, and is one of the secrets of Val Thorens. Then came along the memorable Top Gear episode showing the hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond slugging it out on the tracks with old rear wheel drive vehicles against the likes of French Formula star Olivier Panis on a 4wd hatchback. One does not even have to fancy a guess as to who won, but it was one of the best Top Gear episodes ever. Now, not only is Val Thorens about skiing, it is also about racing on snow and ice.
Racing on asphalt circuit may seem easy, but it does require a certain amount of driving skill. There are several race tracks open to the public around the world, and wannabe Schumachers frequently crash on the barriers even before they can even complete a single lap on their cars. Driving a car down town is one thing. Racing a car in a circuit is another.
Now, imagine racing on a circuit layered with ice and snow. If Olivier Panis gets a work out driving on an ice circuit, then 99% of people who know how to drive will have to really practice hard to get it right. Forget bringing an old Ford Cortina on an ice racing circuit, because even with snow tires it won’t work. The best weapon here is a 4 wheel drive lightweight hatchback with all the modifications in every inch of the car. Load it with brake kits, HRE rims, K&N Intakes, Kelford camshafts, Larini strut braces ,Techart wheels, Tein coilovers and every other performance part which improve handling, braking, acceleration through the corners and then the car will be much more adequate for roughing it out in a snow covered track.
Mercifully, the track also serves as an ice driving school, and is perhaps a much better way to get a feel of driving on ice before actually racing on it. So before gunning that brand new Porsche Cayenne on the ice track and putting the pedal to the metal, it is prudent to first learn how to do it right and Val Thorens is just the place for that.
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