Milla Mäkelä scores double Podium in V8 Thunder Finland season opener at Kemora
The 2022 season of the V8 Thunder Finland series got underway at Kemora, with Milla Mäkelä returning to the Finnish Championship. And what a start it was - with two second places that mean important points into the bag for the championship battle.
The new season of the Finnish V8 Thunder Championship started last weekend at Kemora, the first out of the five scheduled events on the 2022 calendar. 29-year-old Milla Mäkelä was again the only female driver on the grid, as she returns to championship after finishing third in 2021. And, after a remarkable start of the season, she is on course to be again in the title fight this year, having secured two second places and collected important points for the championship. Most of last season's grid was back, including series champion Toni Lähteenmäki - who has to be among the favourites for this season as well. But of course he will not have an easy time with challengers like Milla Mäkelä, as well as some other fast competitors, who are pushing their V8 Thunder powerful cars to the limits. Mäkelä is racing a Mercedes AMG CLK, as teams have three different bodywork kits to choose from - Mercedes, Chevrolet and Ford Mustang. And the weekend started with drama as Lähteenmäki had a troubled practice session which put the champion in a difficult situation - but cohesion is big in the series and Milla Mäkelä gave him a spare engine and, with some extra work from his crew, he could start the race on Saturday. "Super busy test day, but all good now" - wrote Mäkelä after practice, who was second. "Second fastest in official practises and the car is back in one piece after the rear wheel nearly came off during driving in the last session!" In qualifying, Lähteenmäki scored pole position ahead of Milla Mäkelä and Harri Salminen - the latter than starting the race from the pitlane. While Lähteenmäki drove off to a light-to-flag victory, Milla had a strong run in second place and Petri Ortju was third in the opening race of the season. Salminen fought from the back of the grid to fourth place with a great performance in his Chevrolet Camaro. "P2 from Race 1", Mäkelä commented. "Bad start but good first lap then just race to finish. Over 4 second gap in front and over 30 seconds behind at the finish line." Just like in Race 1, Lähteenmäki lined up on pole for the second race and he could pull away from second placed Milla Mäkelä. Jarkko Tähtinen, Salminen and Ortju battled for most of the race; Salminen soon passed Tähtinen for the last podium spot. Ortju then also made a move stick on Tähtinen and Vesa Mäkelä got closer, waiting for the right moment to make an opportunistic move on Tähtinen. Now in third place, Salminen didn't make it easy for Milla Mäkelä - who had been struggling with power steering issues - as he shortened the gap and was soon on her tail. He would attempt a pass shortly before the chequered flag, but he slowed down due to technical issues and dropped down the order, ultimately losing his podium. Ortju inherited third and the final podium spot, behind Lähteenmäki and Milla Mäkelä. "Double P2 at the season opener", said Mäkelä. "Today was not easy, my power steering was playing tricks and gave an extra challenge in the corners when it suddenly started working for a while and then again not", she explained. "We got the set up a bit better though for today, thanks to my super team! Small fixes and we are ready for round 2 in Botniaring in June" Milla Mäkelä is now second in the championship standings and at the next round will be looking for a possibility to overtake reigning champion Lähteenmäki. The next race will take place in conjunction with Baltic Touring Cars from 11th to 12th June at Botniaring.