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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Impressive podium for Flame Airikkala at Oulton Park

In just her third ever car racing weekend, Flame Airikkala took a significant step forward in performance to finish seventh overall out of 22 car grid, second in the MK7 class, resulting in a first trip to the podium.

Photo courtesy: Flame Airikkala

Flame Airikkala has enjoyed a breakthrough weekend in the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship with a podium in the MK7 class at Oulton Park. In just her third ever car racing weekend, Airikkala took a significant step forward in performance to finish race two of the weekend seventh overall out of 22 car grid, second in the MK7 class, resulting in a first trip to the podium. She had already achieved her best result of the season in race one finishing 11th, before claiming her first top-10 result in race two and missing out on overall podium by just 1.6 seconds.

Flame hails from a family of rich motorsport pedigree with her late grandfather Pentti Airikkala a world renown rally driver with extensive World Rally Championship experience. Her mother Jo-Ann was also a prominent racing driver, competing in the Fiesta Championship on the TOCA Package in the 1990s. Therefore, Flame is following in her mother’s footsteps by racing in the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship, a premier junior category with alumni competing in both TCR UK and the British Touring Car Championship.

The BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, with 20+ car grids now commonplace. From 2023, the championship is a full-time support series of TCR UK, increasing trackside visibility for the drivers, in addition to live race coverage online.

With the BRSCC Fiesta Championship also part of the same package, this allows young drivers to work their way up the motorsport ladder. Introduced in 2022, Flame competes in a MK7 Fiesta with the grid split between the newer model of car and the older MK6, with performance differences between the two designed to be minimal. Nonetheless, some characteristics are different and therefore separate podiums are held for the two generations of car.

This season marks Flame’s first year of car racing, signing for reigning champions in the parallel BRSCC Fiesta Championship, 20Ten Racing. In the opening two rounds of the season prior to Oulton Park, Airikkala has steadily improved her performances, securing a best qualifying result of 17th and a best finish of 14th, both coming at Croft. Crucially, Flame has completed every lap of the season to date, a feat only achieved by two of the other 22 drivers racing in the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship. This stood her in good stead heading into Oulton Park, a notoriously tight and technical circuit which poses a number of challenges for circuit racing rookies.

From the first free practice session of the weekend, Airikkala’s speed was apparent as she clocked the 16th fastest time, less than two seconds away from the fastest driver, with her theoretical best lap placing her inside the top-10. In qualifying, she backed this up with her equal best result of the season, a 14th place effort which saw her set the fifth fastest time out of the MK7 class drivers.

Lining up on the seventh row of the grid for race one, Flame gained two positions on the opening lap before being involved in a brilliant midfield fight with positions changing multiple times a lap. Falling as low as 13th on lap five, Airikkala gained in confidence as the race progressed and set her personal best time on lap six as she begun to make moves on the drivers ahead. Involved in a particularly close battle with Jacob Hodgkiss, Flame ran inside the top-10 on the penultimate lap before falling to 11th at the checkered flag. The close nature of the championship can be highlighted by the fact that positions 8th – 11th were covered by just three tenths of a second at the line.

Having already achieved her best result to date, Flame was aiming for further improvements in race two. It was a race filled with drama with three separate starts following two red flags which increased the tension for the young drivers. Airikkala did superbly to avoid the unfolding drama and executed three clean race starts to ensure she was in contention for another top-10 finish. Fighting with second year drivers Lucas Hayden and Daniel Lewis, Flame crossed the line of the shortened three lap race in seventh, just 1.6 seconds away from an overall podium place. This result also secured her second place in the MK7 class, just one second away from taking a class victory.

Flame took a huge leap forward at Oulton Park, consistently running in the midfield and achieving her first ever podium finish in the MK7 class. She enjoyed close battles in both races and dealt superbly with a twice red-flagged race two, displaying excellent racecraft to finish in seventh position overall.

"It means so much because its so early on in my racing career and starting to prove myself with good results not only gains me respect on and off track, but also gives me an insight to what I can achieve in the future", Airikkala told us after the weekend.

These results elevate Airikkala to 13th in the overall championship and fifth among drivers of the newer MK7 Fiesta, while being only one of three drivers to score points in all six races to have taken place so far this season.

"As good as the result was from the weekend, it’s made me more motivated than ever to take it one step further and try fight for a win", she concluded.

The next round of the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship takes place at Knockhill on the weekend of 22nd/23rd July with Flame looking to build upon her breakthrough Oulton Park meeting.



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