- Hot competition on frozen Lapland lake
- Six furry dogs take on 300 horses
- Who cares who won – it was all in the doing
LAKE PIKKU-NISSI, Lapland – A sled pulled by six Alaskan and Siberian huskies has challenged a Leon Cupra and race driver Jordi Gené on this frozen lake.
Seat media people described the event as “a fun challenge to bring out the best in each of them” – a 4×4 high-performance car against a sled hauled by two ancestral dog breeds which can run as far as 130km a day hauling a laden sled and its musher (driver).
“It was not a race,” a spokesperson said, “but a meeting to measure them up. The aim was to bring out the best in each of them, comparing their features more similar than thought.
“That’s why there is no winner.”
The track was a 1000m oval on the ice and car and sled each logged about 20 laps.
While the Cupra, Seat’s most powerful model, is characterised by its performance – 225kW (300hp) and 100km/h in 4.9sec – the huskies are known for their endurance and are among the 20 fastest dog breeds able to reach 40km/h.
They make five-day journeys, each pulling their own weight – about 30kg.
The lake, covered for the first four months of each year with ice a metre thick, is one of 188 000 such bodies of water across Finland. The ice can easily support laden dog-sleds – and cars such as the Cupra.
FURRY PAWS v. STUDDED TYRES
Mamba and Mustys, the two lead dogs according to their trainer Susi Normand, instinctively know their place and the dog teams can run across ice or snow without breaking pace thanks to their broader paws.
The Cupra, however, relies on all-wheel drive and studded snow-tyres.
The day’s air temperature of -5ºC was, the Lapps on the trip said, “typically balmy” for the huskies though with their thick fur they are comfortable at as low as -25ºC and can endure -40.
The Cupra has four-pot Brembo anti-lock brakes; the sled uses metal claws that dig into the ice when pressed by the musher’s feet. Just like a car, the musher uses the claws to stabilise the sled before taking a curve in the track.
Huskies participate in several dog-sled competitions all over the world, such as the European championship or the ‘End of the World Race’ in Argentina.
On the other hand, the Cupra has had impressive successes, especially two record times on the Nürburgring where both the Leon ST and the hatchback Leon set a lap times of less than eight minutes.