Milla Mäkelä adds more Podiums to her impressive V8 Thunder campaign
At Finland's newest track Kymiring, Milla Mäkelä continued her impressive streak of 6 podiums out of 8 races in the V8 Thunder series. Despite some technical issues, the quick Finn moved into second place in the championship standings ahead of the last round of the 2021 season.
The Finnish V8 Thunder series was back for the penultimate round of the 2021 season at Kymiring. It was a championship-defining moment, as Toni Lähteenmäki entered with a lead of over 50 points over his closest pursuer - Sami Talvitie - and aimed to secure the title at Kymiring. Sitting third in the championship standings was Milla Mäkelä, the only female driver in the field, who had a really strong campaign and was coming from a 4 consecutive podiums in the previous rounds.
For most of the drivers, Finland's newest racing venue was an unknown factor, as they had only driven around the 4.650 km-long track on the simulator.
“The track has a very unique profile with all the height differences, and the tarmac was relatively new so there was a lot to learn." - explained Mäkelä, who races one of the +500hp muscle cars from the popular Finnish series, run by the family-owned team MTEC.
"The venue is great and has a lot of potential in the future for great racing events once it’s finished." - she continued. Indeed, Kymiring was scheduled to host a series of international events such as MotoGP, before the pandemic hit.
Mäkelä's practice session was disrupted by clutch and alternator failures, as she went out to learn the secrets of the new track. Nevertheless, the young woman still managed to set the third fastest time and aimed for more once she had laid the foundations for a very promising qualifying and races.
Lähteenmäki once again proved what he was capable of: he was second fastest in the qualifying sessions but still converted those results in race victories: 8 wins out of 8 races - Lähteenmäki's flawless progression granted him the title one round ahead of the season finale.
For Milla Mäkelä, the fourth round of the V8 Thunder series wasn't all plain sailing, but she still fought through adversities to record more positive results.
Milla had set a laptime fast enough for the Top-3 in qualifying; she felt she could have improved further, but the grip was soon gone and she had to settle for third on the starting grid of Saturday's race.
In the first race of the weekend, Mäkelä was faced with technical issues - but she held on and her persistence brought the #15 MTEC car across the finish line in third place, adding one more podium to her resumé.
"On the warm up lap when gathering heat for the tires I felt heavy shaking on the steering wheel." - she explained. "The tires stuck to the track well, but the steering wheel was hard to hold at almost every turn."
"It was my luck that the race was a bit boring." - she continued, recalling how the rather uneventful race helped her to get to the end despite a difficult car to drive. "A bit tight in the first few corners, but I got out in P3 and was able to drive to the finish line in that position."
"For the first time in years my arms were sore from driving, because the steering was beating my hands for a full 20 minutes!”
Race 2 on Sunday wasn't an easy one either, as an incident between Talvitie and Petri Ortjun interrupted the action with a red flag. At the restart, the top three had little chances to challenge each other and Lähteenmäki took another victory ahead of Ronne Rautjärvi and Milla Mäkelä.
Milla's car had meanwhile been fixed following the mechanical issues that hampered her run the day before, and the Finnish racer could prove that by setting the fastest time in the warm-up and went on to score her second podium of the weekend - the sixth in a row.
“I was able to challenge the front two a bit, but I was close to losing the rear on top of a hill at mid race, and the gap grew a bit." - she recalled. "As the safety car and the red flag shortened the race, I ran out of time when catching up again. The car felt really good finally, so I wish there was more time left on the clock!”
By claiming two third places, Milla Mäkelä was able to move up into second place in the championship standings, only behind newly-crowned champion Toni Lähteenmäki.
The battle for the runner-up spot, though, will now be under the spotlight, with Milla Mäkelä and Jonne Rautjärvi battling until the final available point at the V8 Thunder 2021 final round of the season at AlastaroCircuit, from 11th to 12th September.