Porsche Camp 4 in Finland
Is it possible to repeat a “unique experience” without losing its tingling and charm? You bet!
Let’s start from the beginning.
In 2013, my husband and I participated in the Porsche Camp 4 driver training program, in Rovaniemi, Finland. Deeply impressed by Lapland and the event’s ice and snow, I’ve always wanted to repeat this journey.
In January 2018, my wish came true. This time we went with very good friends. The event took place even further north – in Levi.
Of course, my husband and I were already qualified for the next training level, »Ice Force«, thanks to our participation at Camp 4, but our friends weren’t, as this was there first time. But that was ok for us, because we were looking for a communal experience and the pleasure of driving. And there was a lot of that waiting for us!
Off to Lapland.
After a 1.5-hour flight from Helsinki, we arrive in Kittilä. The small airport is completely covered in snow. Finally, real winter! Outside, it’s 16 degrees below zero, but that’s just a teaser for the 27 degrees below zero we had yet to experience.
The Porsche welcome booth at the small arrivals hall is impossible to overlook. After a few formalities, the luggage is assigned and loaded. A few minutes later, we find seats on a warm and comfortable coach. Our adventure begins. Levi is located about 1,000 kilometers north of Helsinki and is Finland’s largest and most popular winter sports resort. A little context – Levi is more than 150 kilometers further north than the northernmost tip of Iceland! As we made our way to the hotel, we barely saw another car or group on the trails. The population density of Lapland is quite low, with 1.8 inhabitants per square kilometer. It’s no comparison to the Ruhr area, which has 1,140 inhabitants per square kilometer!
The snow here is also completely different from Germany. I would almost say it’s whiter than at home. It glistens and sparkles on the trails, in the trees, even in the air or on my husband’s frozen beard. The reason for this difference is the much lower humidity up here in the north.
Arrival to Levi.
We arrive at our hotel around 6:30pm, the Levi Panorama is located at the slopes, right next to the ski trails.
Perfectly organized, as I’m used to it from other trips I’ve done with Porsche, the check-in is quick and hiccup free – Swabian precision… We get all our necessary documents, the room cards, and are assigned our groups. Of course, our driving licenses get checked as well – don’t forget to bring that!
Now, it’s time to hurry because there is an opening event with dinner at the hotel at 8 pm.
This is no wellness trip, you should know that going in. We have a tight schedule with driving and activities. On the bed, Martini Racing jackets, which fit perfectly, are waiting for us. What a great surprise. Our room is much bigger and nicer than the one in Rovaniemi. Scandinavian design is a question of taste – it’s not always the romantic wooden hut in the forest
Participants of Porsche Camp 4.
A glass of Champagne as a welcome drink – that’s how I like it. The room slowly fills with about 50 participants from different countries. All have come together to share the joys of driving: Americans, Australians, Brazilians, Germans, Lebanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Czechs are part of this camp.
I immediately realize there are many more women here than there were five years ago. In 2013, there were just three women, and only one (besides me) was taking part in driving training. But now just our group of ten Germans includes three women, who will all be training. The combinations of drivers in our group are diverse: brothers, married couples, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters; ages range from mid-20s to over 70 years old.
It’s exactly this diversity that I love about international events like this.
The Porsche Team is introduced, and we’re given an overview of our driving days and evening events. No long talks, all the information is to the point and no more questions. The organization is as precise and smooth as you would expect from a Porsche car. We all dine together and get to know our team mates. Tomorrow, the driver’s briefing begins at 8am, which is why we go to bed early.
Driving Days at Camp 4.
On our first day, after breakfast, our instructor begins with a quick introduction to safety and driving techniques. All the instructors have years of experience as driving instructors and/or test drivers and adjust individually to your skill level – whether you’re a beginner or an advanced driver.
Afterwards, we drive with a coach to the Porsche training ground about 25 minutes away.
Courses with a variety of challenges and requirements are waiting for us: from the Rally Flick and slalom to controlled long-distance drifting in a circle.
Five groups of five cars each split up on the extensive terrain and go to their respective course. After each section, we change cars: 911 Carrera GTS, 911 Carrera 4S, Panamera Turbo and the little bitch Cayman S.
In addition to the different route requirements, every car has its own peculiarities. An 4×4 – 911 is drastically different from the mid-engine Cayman. Since I’m used to it, I love the feel of the Panamera. Even if you don’t expect it from a car that big, it can be quite maneuverable. But they are all a lot of fun! Enough words now though, let me share some impressions with you.
How does a Porsche – Camp 4 training work?
Before driving the tracks and exercises, we drive through them slowly in a convoy as the instructor explains the challenges and characteristics of the track via walkie-talkie.
Then, step by step, you begin testing the limits – both your own and the car’s. Usually, you reach your own limits before reaching the car’s. You should not only know how to correctly handle the car, but also develop a “feel” for it! The game with gas and the brakes begins. If you feel safe, you can switch the PSM (stabilization system) into sports mode or completely off. That’s a challenge – because the road gets more slippery with every round.
The moment you drift sideways around the curve or the rear pulls to one side in the slalom’s controlled rhythm will put a smile on your face! You’ll get more comfortable on ice and snow in this protected environment without the everyday madness of traffic and push yourself to your limits more and more. But then, bang, you’ll hit the snow wall. That’s not bad, but you might feel a bit embarrassed when they call a Cayenne to recover your car. After one wipe out, we needed two Cayennes – one just wasn’t enough to get us out of the snowdrift.
The instructor gives tips and, with his assistant, ensures an appropriate safety distance between each car. There are a ton of chances for a driver exchange. Here, everybody gets his or her turn.
The constant concentration and excitement is exhausting, but lunch breaks on the track bring some brief relaxation. You can get some new energy at the buffet, have a coffee, and talk swap stories with the other drivers or the instructor in a relaxed atmosphere.
Dawn and darkness
In Mid-January, the sun sets between 1:30pm and 2:30pm. The days are quite short – about three hours. We arrive at the training ground at dawn and drive until dark, which is not a problem at all. All cars are equipped with lights 😉 With the high beams, you may even be able to see the snow-shaped paths better than in daylight.
With the light fog, dusk flowed smoothly from morning to evening. The light of dawn was wonderful, as if filtered with a soft-focus or blur. The snowscape had a slightly surreal appearance.
Snowmobiles, Elfes und Sami.
The driver training isn’t the only program that is perfectly organized – the side programs are also very coherent.
Each day ends with a dinner in a special location.
The first evening is a real highlight: a guided snowmobile tour through the woods. This is actually why I wanted to do the Porsche Camp 4 again. The snowmobile trip through this Finnish winter wonderland is a real dream.
Everything you need is provided, from gloves and thick thermal overalls to boots and a helmet. Wrapped up in our gear, we drive in small groups on specially created snowmobile trails through the forest. Don’t worry, snowmobile novices can also drive, or if you prefer, you can even share a snowmobile with somebody as a passenger. Because everything had to be stowed well and I did not want to slow the group down, I wasn’t able to take pictures during this tour. I did write to Lapland Safaris though, and they were kind enough to share some press photos:
Our snowmobile excursion ended at a restaurant called Tontulla – Elves Hideaway. This quaint restaurant, which is stuffed with elven figures of all kinds, is also connected to a resort that is a starting point for all sorts of winter activities.
The Sami are an indigenous people of Europe who have a traditional singing called joik, which we listened to in Sami’s hut.
In the half-underground sod house, Lappish cuisine, from salmon to reindeer, is offered on an open fire. On the walls antlers and drawings clearly show that reindeer plays a central role in Sami life. More information about the Sami can be found here:
On our last night, we celebrate at the hotel’s “Gold Digger Bar”. Up here, with a view of the ski slopes, we enjoy an intimate atmosphere and reflect on the experiences of the last few days.
Keepsakes are already waiting in our rooms: a model Porsche as a memory and a link to a site where we can download photos from official photographers in a few days.
Our friends are excited, and we are too. Lapland’s wonderful surroundings, the exceptional driving experience, and the event’s perfect execution leave nothing to be desired.
I would even do it again, for the third time …
Porsche Camp 4 Driving Experience in Levi / Finland
All the details at a glance:
Event dates: From January to March
The dates for the Winter Experience are announced each summer. You have to be quick – the driver training is popular and books quickly.
Flight: Düsseldorf or Amsterdam – Helsinki: 2,5 hours and then to Kittilä: 1,5 hours.
Tour Operator: Porsche.
Hotel: Levi Panorama (Transfertime 20 minutes)
Packing tips: In addition to warm winter clothing, I recommend bringing warm shoes. But you don’t want the soles to be too thick as you’ll need enough feeling to use the pedals. I also strongly advise you bring a rich body and face lotion, because the dry cold irritates the skin a lot. You don’t need to buy clothing suitable for the polar area just for the event. You will never be outside for long (except for the snowmobile tour, but they provide special clothing for that). Of course, it’s a bit different when you go out to see the polar lights on your own at night.
Day 1: Arrival. Check-in, registration and dinner.
Day 3: Driving day and dinner at Samis Hut.
Day 4: Driving day & goodbye dinner at Gold Digger.
Day 5: Airport transfer – Departure.
Costs of the trip per person: ca. 4.500 Euro without the flight (as of beginning of 2018).
My tip: Since you won’t get around the layover in Helsinki, I suggest you stay one or two nights in the Finnish capital. It’s really worth it! I plan to write about it in another blog post.
(Translates by Barbara Riedel)
A great driving pleasure with Porsche Travel club in Italy : Rome with a Porsche.