Mid-season recap: Linda Vekka in DS3 Cup Denmark
The mid-way point of the DS3 Cup Denmark season is in the books: Linda Vekka's first half of the championship was a mix of promising pace, good performance and some bad luck. With three more rounds to come, here is a quick overview of what happened so far to the young Finnish racer.
The 2022 season of the competitive touring car championship DS3 Cup Denmark started in May, with its season opener at Padborg Park – featuring a field of both established names and new talents after 2021 champion Jacob Sevel moved on to Super GT Denmark. The only woman on the grid - Finnish driver Linda Vekka – started her third season in the series, at the wheel of her black and red #17 Citroen DS3. And here's a recap of what happened so far in the first half of the championship.
The first race at Padborg Park featured 14 drivers on the grid, all looking forward to the new season; Kevin Brandsborg scored the first pole of the weekend, ahead of Knut Eirik Knudsen and Felix Heiberg. Brandsborg started well, held the lead and preceded Dennis Bannergaard, who moved from fourth to second. A safety car interrupted the race action soon after, as Morten Jespersen stalled on the start-finish-line. The restart was in the hands of Brandsborg and he managed to stay in front, also pulling away quickly. Behind him, Knudsen found his pace, caught up with Bannergaard and eventually passed him after a long battle. Brandsborg managed to cross the finish line first, but would receive a 20 second time penalty for passing under yellow that demoted him to 4th place. Knudsen took home the victory, ahead of Bannergaard and Felix Heiberg. Linda Vekka had the most unlucky start into the new season, as she tried to avoid a car that went off the track – but she wasn't able to avoid the gravel trap and her #17 machine ended up beached in the run-off. It was race-over on the first lap for the Finnish driver, but on the positive side, the car wasn't damaged and quickly ready for the next race. The second race on Sunday saw Mickey Jensen starting from pole for the reverse grid rule, but Brandsborg was on a mission and stormed to the lead of the race to take revenge for the penalty of the day before. He managed to claim victory ahead of Knudsen and Heiberg. For Linda Vekka, the second race was an impressive recovery drive, as she climbed from P18 to 8th showing great race pace, especially after she had passed Jonas and made an impressive move on Jensen – which left the young Finn with high hopes for the upcoming race weekends.
"I’m really excited about this one since this is a completely new track for me", Vekka explained before the second round at Ring Djursland. "Thanks to my friend, I was able to do some laps on the simulator and it seemed interesting!"
Race 1 of the second round saw a well-known name taking pole position – Knudsen topped the timesheets in qualifying and preceded Niklas Abrahamsen, before the latter was the protagonist of a spin in the early stages of the race which dropped him towards the end of the field. Brandsborg now followed Knudsen and tried to put some pressure on him, but Knudsen was able to defend his position and claimed his second win of the season ahead of Brandsborg and Heiberg.
Linda Vekka showed again promising speed in race 1 and came home in 5th place after some very good overtaking moves and consistent race pace. Importantly, P5 meant front row on the grid for Sunday's race.
The Finnish lady lined up in second place, but she was overtaken by Jespersen at the start and would lose two more places to Bannergard and Brandsborg as well. Jespersen and Brandsborg pulled away and, with the fastest pace on track, the latter was able to get into the lead and hold position despite Jespersen pressure. Brandsborg took the chequered flag to claim the win, ahead of Bannergard and Knudsen.
Linda Vekka's race turned out not to be the easiest one, as she made contact in the early stages of the race. The incident "took my right mirror, so my dad needed to tell me if there was someone trying to get the inside line", she explained. "So full potential missed, but all in all it was a good weekend." – Vekka concluded. She ultimately finished seventh, still scoring good points for the championship.
For the first time since 2019, DS3 Cup Denmark made its return to Norway with an appearance at Rudskogen, for the last race weekend before the summer break.
With no big suprises, Knudsen scored pole position ahead of Brandsborg and Abrahamsen for the first race of the weekend – as all the front runners from the opening race meetings confirmed their pace at the top.
But there was drama at the start, as Knudsen stalled on the grid and Heisberg hit trouble as well and dropped down the order. The race was then red flagged to allow the recovery of Knudsen's car on the starting line.
Brandsborg had a great restart and led the pack into the first corner, preceding Bannergaard, Jespersen, Baltzer and Abrahamsen, all battling for the podium positions. Bannergaard held off his rivals and finished second behind Brandsborg and ahead of Jespersen.
With another solid race in the top-10, Linda Vekka was sixth – securing reverse pole position for Sunday´s race. The run to P6 was not without drama either, as a driver in front of her lost control after a contact and Vekka just about managed to take evasive action.
In Race 2, Knudsen had a good getaway and challenged Vekka for the lead – but the Finnish lady was sandwiched into the first corner and lost several positions. Brandsborg took over the lead, but wasn't able to open a gap as Knudsen also had a strong drive and was ultimately able to snatch victory at the end. Silas Rytter scored his first ever podium in DS3 Cup.
"It was challenging and frustrating, but with lots of help we were able to catch up with the pace", said Linda Vekka after she could still recover to a sixth place finish on the last race before the summer break.
The second half of the season will start on 27th to 28th August at Jyllandsringen, with Linda Vekka sitting 8th in the championship. She will tackle the final three race weekends aiming to further climb the points' standings, as well as securing her first podium.