After a 7-minute bus ride, we had arrived to the other side of the Castelloli Circuit. The moment I got off, I could see the hardworking camera crew were busy setting up their drones at the top of the building. There were other directors and producers scouting the circuit and directed their staff the good spots to capture the moments.
In front of me, I could see the start/finish line. The spot where I stood was the pit stop. Inside the garage, there were stools, tables, another pop up lounge and video game stations that were nicely setup by the Kia Gear Up team. Also, I saw two stylish modified Kia Pro_cee’d hatchbacks parked in front of the garage. As I chatted with one of the Kia staff and they told me the sporty Pro_cee’d is not available in the North America market. Instead, Pro_cee’d is the high end trim level version of the regular Cee’d hatchback sold in Europe. I guess in North America they had the Forte Koup so they may think it would be redundant if they import the Pro_cee’d. But honestly, I hope one day the Kia management would highly re-consider bringing in the Pro_cee’d, it’s a beautiful ride. After a nice short chat, I let the Kia staff get back to work. The Kia Gear Up Team had to inspect the modified Kia Pro_cee’d vehicles. As I glanced inside both vehicles, you could see the interiors were very bare. They stripped down the back seats and all the features that aren’t necessary in a racing vehicle to reduce weight. You could see the recaro racing seats were installed on both sides of the front seats. Racing seat belts were installed as well. Plus, a safety racing cage with fire extinguisher was found in the vehicle. At the end of the day, it’s nice to have fun and experience the speed of the Kia vehicles, but Kia puts everyone in safety first, that’s their top priority.
One of the executives gathered us around in circles and gave us a briefing on what to expect in the upcoming challenge exercises. So, all the Global Ambassadors simply were chilling in the garage and waited for their turn for various challenge exercises.
Challenge #1: Professional Racing Drivers Stunt Show
To start off the circuit challenge exercise, Kia Gear Up team decided to warm us up with a Stunt Show Demonstration. Motor Racing Champion, Manfred Stohl and another Motor Racing Driver, Sandra Yelamos sat in the two Kia Pro_cee’ds and demonstrated to us their rally racing skills. The drifts and stunts that we often seen in movies were actually happening in front of our eyes. I love the engine sound, the speed, the drifting & the tire burning sounds added the adrenaline to my veins. My favourite part was when two cars were parked in spot #1 and #3 and the Kia Pro_cee’d drifted & slid into spot #2 (right in between car #1 and #3). That was spectacular!
Challenge #2: Circuit Taxi Course
In order to ensure the Global Ambassadors were familiarize with the circuit course, each of us were assigned to sit in the passenger side of the race car and be driven by the Motor Racing Driver to go over the entire circuit. This challenge exercise allowed us to experience what a professional racing driver can do with the modified car under high speeds. At the same time, we got to familiarize with the circuit course.
When it was my turn, my heart started to pump a little bit. I sat in the passenger recaro racing seat. The seat provided lots of lumbar and lateral support. I felt the seat wrapped around my entire body to give me the most protection and comfort. Then, the Kia Gear Up staff slowly placed the seatbelts around me. The recaro seats didn’t use our normal 3-point side seatbelt. Instead, it had 2 seatbelts that secure my body in place. The driver smiled at me and asked if I was ready. “Hell ya, let’s do this!” Vroom! Vroom! We left the pit stop and onto race course. The first turn was ok, I could handle it as the car was still gaining up speed. But in turn 2 and 3, you could feel the high speed of the ride, the g-force was in effect. I could see the driver were busy shifting up & down through the turns. The apex section was fun and it was really cool, feeling the acceleration of the vehicle and what Kia engineering was capable of doing. I told myself I will follow the Kia Racing Team in the near future to see how they flare in the racing circuit. There were quite a number of twisty roads and turns at the Castelloli Circuit and after about 2 minutes, we were back into the pit stop for the next Ambassador.
It was definitely an amazing experience and I could tell you that I respect a race car driver alot. It’s definitely a sport as the driver has to be alert at all times and analyze their actions in high speed. Every decision can make or break the race car results or even their lives. The ride was definitely more fun than a roller coaster ride in a theme park.
Challenge #3: Speed Racing Course
After every Global Ambassador took their turns sitting in the passenger seat, experiencing the high speed taxi style exercise, we were asked to take turns going through the speed course. This time, it’s our turn to be on the driver’s seat. My time has finally come! I got to drive this Kia Pro_cee’d! Again, the friendly Kia Gear Up Crew helped put the seat belts for me. Safety first! As everything was ready, off we go into the circuit. In my helmet, I could hear the instructions made by the professional driver. In real life, that’s how the rally team works, the engine and speed were so loud that they rely on the microphones to communicate with each other inside the car. The professional driver informed me what gear to shift when making the next turn, when to brake and when the turn was coming. He even informed me if the next turn was going to be a hard or a soft turn. At first, I was a bit skeptical pushing the limit of the car but as I got more comfortable shifting up & down through the course, I decided to push the pedal a little bit harder, just to experience what it was like to go through the turns at higher speed. The feeling was so refreshing. It was fun, moving in and out, left and right through the course. It was so satisfying!
Finale: A Certificate of Completion
After every Ambassador had their little fun on the speed circuit, we were gathered again and the staff congratulated us for our job well done on all the challenges. At the same time, totally unexpected, they had prepared a Kia Gear Up Certificate of Completion for each of us. Everyone cheer for each other when our name was called. When I received mine, I could see my name, my country of origin as well as my race car driver picture (that was taken earlier during the day) on the certificate. This Certificate of Completion signified that we had gone through the various challenges and exercises throughout the entire Kia Gear Up Challenge.
I found this Kia Gear Up Challenge very helpful and worthwhile because I was able to discover more about myself, push the limits under a safe and closed course environment to learn better driving skills. I got to do exercises that I normally wouldn’t have the chance to do it on our own. Also, we got to learn all the latest safety technologies that Kia vehicles had to offer. I would say, this Kia Gear Up Challenge is an once-in-a-lifetime experience for me that I will never forget. I know full well that not everyone has the opportunity to wear a racing outfit with the helmet & be able to drive a race car in a real circuit. That doesn’t come often. I would like to thank Kia Motors and Kia Canada for the kind hospitality and the precious opportunity to have me experience such an amazing Kia Gear Up Campaign.
Before we left for our bus, the entire Kia Gear Up Team, including the Global Ambassadors, Buddies, Executives went to the start/finish line to pose for group photos for a good memory.
Stay tuned for my next MoVernie BLOG as we headed back to the city of Barcelona to attend a nice restaurant for a “Life Talk” dinner at El Principal.
And MoVernie is outta here!
Follow Kia Canada on Twitter – @KiaCanada