Flame Airikkala battles through adversity at Donington Park
It was a weekend of promise for Flame Airikkala at Donington Park with the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship driver continuing her progress in the highly competitive series: Flame showed excellent one-lap pace in qualifying and looked set to translate this into strong race performances before misfortune struck.
It was a weekend of promise for Flame Airikkala at Donington Park with the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship driver continuing her progress in the highly competitive series. Flame showed excellent one-lap pace in qualifying and looked set to translate this into strong race performances before misfortune struck.
Two red flags led to race one being abandoned, before Airikkala ran inside the top-10 of race two until contact from a competitor led to a late-race spin. Overcoming adversity, the young driver set her quickest time on the final lap of race two to finish eighth in the MK7 class to close out her weekend.
Flame’s improvements across the season have been extremely impressive and she was looking to build upon these strong showings heading into the penultimate round of the season at Donington Park. Following testing on Friday, drivers were given a fifteen minute free practice session on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying.
Airikkala set her best time halfway through the session which placed her 17th overall, eighth among the MK7 class runners. With her four best laps within two tenths of a second, Flame’s consistency would stand in good stead ahead of qualifying.
Qualifying took place late on Saturday afternoon and with the highest track temperatures of the season, ensuring the tyres were in the perfect operating window would be a challenge. An early red flag disrupted proceedings but despite the stoppage, Flame was able to improve by eight tenths of a second from her best time in practice. Airikkala’s fastest lap led to a 13th place overall starting position for race one, eighth in the MK7 class. Her second fastest lap would also line her up eighth in class for race two, with one position of improvement in the overall classification.
Flame had made confident starts in recent races and was looking to replicate this as race one of the weekend got underway. Indeed, her initial getaway was strong with the 20Ten Racing driver maintaining her position as a red flag was displayed for an incident at the final chicane. Upon a shortened restart, Airikkala again made a good start before a second red flag brought the race to a premature end.
Thankfully the drivers involved in both incidents were able to walk away unharmed, however the stoppages led to race one of the day being abandoned without one full green flag lap being completed.
The BRSCC Fiesta Junior drivers faced an added challenge prior to race two with rain in the previous hour making the track damp, but with a dry line forming. This added to the setup challenges with high ambient temperatures still remaining at Donington Park.
Flame began the race from 11th overall, eighth in class and gained one position among the MK7 competitors at the end of the opening lap. It was a strong start for Airikkala who moved inside the overall top-10 following the conclusion of lap two.
Track conditions remained challenging as the race progressed, with Flame dropping one overall position on lap four, while continuing to resist pressure from drivers in the MK6 class. On lap six, Airikkala received contact from a competitor at the final chicane which led to a spin as the 20Ten Racing driver dropped to 19th overall, eighth in class.
Nonetheless, Flame showed her tenacity by pushing forward in the closing stages to run her fastest time on the final lap of the race to cross the line 19th. Following a post-race investigation, the driver who made contact with Airikkala was given a penalty which promoted Flame to 18th overall, remaining eighth in the MK7 class.
"It was a bit unfortunate today", Flame commented. "Race 1 was abandoned with two red flags but luckily everybody walked away from two big accidents."
"In race 2 I got up to tenth position before being unfortunately tagged and spun around, leaving me to drop down the order. Some very tricky conditions today so it was great to gather more experience to help me in future races", she concluded.
Despite the limited racing time and not achieving the results she was aiming for, it was still a great weekend of progress for Flame. Donington Park is a challenging circuit to master and Airikkala’s speed in qualifying was particularly strong, combined with her initial race starts. A combination of tough conditions and contact from a competitor limited her progress in race two, however the 20Ten Racing driver still ran inside the top-10.
The final round of the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship will take place on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit on the weekend of 21st/22nd October