The Finnish city of Lahti proved the perfect host as VIP’s, promoters, media and drivers enjoyed a three day feast of events as Idea Marketing staged their annual pre-season gathering.
The programme opening with a drinks party at the top of Lahti’s highest ski-jump and guests were treated to spectacular views over the snow clad city. It was then onto a restaurant that boasted a menu made up of locally produced products including the beer. The following morning was ‘activity day’ as the group boarded a coach and headed for the snowy wastes of a nearby forest where a row of snowmobiles were lined up.
However the 10 kilometre snowmobile adventure was preceded by a hair-raising, high speed blast over a narrow, ice covered forest tracks in highly tuned rally cars driven by two of Finland’s top drivers. Guests hardly had time to get the breath back before it was onto the snowmobiles and a journey across a frozen lake before venturing into the deep snow of the forest. For the contingents from Qatar and UAE, it was a shock to their system as only hours before they had been in 30 degrees of sunshine.
It was then time to unwind in a log cabin where the hosts laid on a magnificent feast salmon that was being smoked over a log fire outside the cabin. Later that afternoon it was time for the business part of the programme when at a packed press conference heard the 2009 programme, Nicolo di San Germano, MD of Idea Marketing has planned for the new season. The new format of two races at each venue will make up a sixteen GP race series as when the tour reaches Lahti in June, they will host race 5 and 6 in the calendar as Portugal and Russia will have staged the first 4. Every team will use the same engine for qualifying as it does in the race. If an engine has to be changed the driver goes to the back of the grid. A new ‘Hall of Fame’ has been introduced (this is explained elsewhere on f1boat.com).
With only three weeks to go before the new season kicks off in Portugal, San Germano explained that he was confident the new concept would be a bit step forward although the programme might have to be ‘tweaked’ if they discover any unforeseen problems. After the press conference it was the farewell dinner that evening at a superb country house and prior to the meal, guests took advantage of the sauna facility before leaping into a freezing river. When the group return to Lahti in June, the local promoter assured everyone that the city will be basking in sunshine.