Flame Airikkala displays her potential at Knockhill
It was a weekend full of promise for Flame Airikkala, who showed strong speed in practice and qualifying before unfortunate incidents in both Fiesta Junior Championship races at Knockhill stalled her progress. The young driver was still able to secure a fourth place in the MK7 class.
Flame Airikkala continued her development in the Fiesta Junior Championship, achieving a best result of fourth in the MK7 class at Knockhill. It was a weekend full of promise for the young driver who showed strong speed in practice and qualifying, before unfortunate incidents in both races stalled her progress. Airikkala narrowly missed out on a class podium in the opening race of the weekend and she will be looking to take these positives into the second half of the season.
Looking to build upon her impressive results at Oulton Park, Flame began the weekend well by setting the 13th fastest time overall in Saturday morning’s practice session, fifth in the MK7 class. Airikkala’s best lap time was just one second away from that of leading driver Ben Mulryan, giving good cause for optimism going into qualifying.
Qualifying was disrupted by an early red flag, however Flame was able to continue her competitive start to the weekend. Improving her lap times throughout the session while learning with every lap at the tricky Knockhill circuit, Airikkala set the 13th fastest time overall and an impressive third in the MK7 class. Once again, Flame displayed strong one-lap pace, replicating this result for her second fastest qualifying time which sets the grid for race two.
Lining up from the seventh row of the grid in race one, it was an action-packed start with Flame involved in a first lap tangle which resulted in her dropping to 17th and picking up some minor damage as the safety car was deployed. After restarting on lap three, Airikkala began to make her way through the field and gain positions, moving inside the top-15 by the end of lap seven.
The 20Ten Racing driver gained one further place in the closing stages as she improved on her lap times and managed a challenging opening race to cross the line in 14th overall, narrowly missing out on a podium in the MK7 class placing fourth.
Following a post-race penalty for a driver ahead, Airikkala was promoted to 13th to collect valuable championship points.
For race two of the weekend, once again Flame started from 13th on the grid and was targeting a second class podium of the season. Opening laps at Knockhill are always action-packed and Airikkala found herself on the wrong end of some first lap contact, retiring from the race with suspension damage. This was an unfortunate end to a weekend which was filled with promise following strong single lap pace at a totally new circuit to the 20Ten Racing driver.
After the highs of a maiden podium at Oulton Park, Flame has now experienced the lows at Knockhill in what was always going to be a challenging debut car racing season. Airikkala’s improvements from the opening round have been excellent and her speed is not in question as she races alongside some of the best young drivers in Britain.
"After very little track time on the Friday, I was building pace steadily but a small mistake of my own ended my qualifying early", Flame commented.
"Then in both races I was taken out by other drivers into the first few corners which completely ruined both my races. Some damage in the first race and forced to retire in the second one for the first time this season made an unfortunate end to the weekend."
The 20Ten Racing driver will be targeting a return to the Fiesta Junior Championship MK7 class podium when drivers return to action for a double header at the Silverstone National circuit on the weekend of 19th/20th August.