More podiums for Milla Mäkelä in V8 Thunder Finland
Milla Mäkelä confirmed her steady pace with two podiums at Botniaring and one at Seinäjoki street circuit - as the Finnish driver safely keeps second in the standings at the mid-point of the V8 Thunder Finland season. Here's a recap of the latest rounds before the summer break.
The Finnish-based series V8 Thunder Championship reached its half-way point of the 2022 season, with three race events now in the books and two more to go. The second round went underway at Botniaring, alongside the Baltic Touringcar Championship with a full paddock and some extra entertainment for the fans at the race track. Among the drivers competing in this spectacular muscle-car series is Finnish driver and 2021 runner-up Milla Mäkelä, who continued to challenge reigning champion Toni Lähteenmäki for race wins in the two races at Jurva, Finland. On Friday, the first qualifying session that would set the grid for the first race was topped by championship leader Lähteenmäki, who preceded Petri Ortju and Milla Mäkelä. "The car was working amazingly well after we did some major set up changes to it" - she explained. "Unfortunately I wasn’t able to turn that into results in qualy as I was trying too hard and made a couple of mistakes", Milla continued. "Also, one of my flying laps was disturbed by traffic." In Race 1, Lähteenmäki took off from pole and quickly pulled away, never coming under pressure during the whole race. Milla Mäkelä and Vecsa Mäkelä had a good start and both passed Ortju for second. Lähteenmäki enjoyed a five second gap, followed by Milla Mäkelä - who also opened a big margin to the closest pursuers. Behind the leading duo, Ortju managed to pass Vesa Mäkelä again for the final podium spot. It was the third win out of three races this season for Lähteenmäki, while Milla Mäkelä managed to score second place - for the third time this season. During the race, she set the second fastest lap which gained her P2 on the grid of Race 2; a good place to challenge Lähteenmäki one more time. “The first start was a bit bad, I had lots of wheel spin so the first corner was a bit tight, but I managed to hold my second place", Mäkelä recalled. "From there on it was quite nice to drive to the finish line."
Like in a copy of Race 1, Lähteenmäki started from pole and pulled away, while Milla Mäkelä was joined by Ortju in a hard battle for second place in the first corners. The Finnish lady eventually held on despite a few technical hiccups and Ortju was forced to retire from the race with more technical troubles shortly after.
With a few more battles in the midfield, the leading group was trouble-free and Lähteenmäki took the win ahead of Milla - who had some pressure from Salminen towards the end - and Vesa Mäkelä, third after Salminen's retirement. It was the fourth win for the reigning champion and the fourth second place finish for Milla in the current season. "In the second race my power steering failed partially already on the warm up lap" - Mäkelä said. "I got a better start and gained some distance to the pack in the beginning, but Harri Salminen caught up on me at the end." "His car broke down before he could make a move to pass me, so luckily I got to cross the line in a safe second place again.”
The next round before the half-way summer break took place in Seinajöki, with the street circuit returning to the calendar after a few years absence. The event is one of the biggest motor shows in Finland, with a big program that also featured BMW Xtreme Racing, V1600, drifting, car shows and much more on the weekend's schedule.
“The street circuit at Seinäjoki is very challenging and as always on street tracks, you have to fully focus on every corner, because a small mistake could have severe consequences when the walls are very close" - Mäkelä said. "Qualifying is important this weekend, if we want to have a chance to fight for the win. But the main point is to have a solid weekend” - she continued. On Friday, the qualifying session had no surprises as Lähteenmäki had another dominant drive to score pole ahead of Ortju and Milla Mäkelä. The only woman of the championship had a brilliant start, passed Ortju in the opening stages of the race and hunted down Lähteenmäki - who could keep first place. But it wouldn't be an easy race for Milla, as she had a lot of pressure from Ortju behind her and battled hard, sparing no contacts: Mäkelä was forced wide and dropped to fourth, while the rain started to fall. Harri Salminen overtook Ortju for second place but then couldn't make any further progress against Lähteenmäki, who took victory once again. Milla Mäkelä came home in fourth at the chequered flag, but due to a penalty that was handed to Ortju, she earned the final podium spot. “I was holding P2 quite firmly", she recalled. "I knew Petri Ortju was close behind, but I managed to grow the gap in crucial parts of the track." "He only got close on the narrowest part where there is no room for two cars to be side by side, so I wasn’t worried about an overtake to take place" - Milla explained. "Unfortunately, Ortju eventually did try something on that narrow part which caused him to hit the rear of my car and spun me. Luckily, I didn’t hit any walls and got to drive home in P4.”
On Sunday, cars hit the track in wet weather conditions; Lähteenmäki claimed the lead from pole, as Milla again had a rocket start to pass Ortju at lights out, but Ortju reclaimed the position during the first lap. Mäkelä was then joined by Salminen in the battle for third place; the latter passed her and shortly after Ortju moved into P2, but was again not able to challenge Lähteenmäki in the lead of the race - who won his sixth race out of six this season. “My start was great again, I think I found my touch to the clutch after it was lost for a while", Milla Mäkelä said, recapping the final race. "I got up to P2 after the first corner, but Ortju had a good push into turn 2, so I admit he got away a bit easy this time." "After a couple of laps, Salminen was also close and we had a good battle for a couple of corners but I eventually yielded. I crossed the line in P4 and I’m happy about that", she concluded. "We did exactly what we agreed before the race and our goal for the weekend was fulfilled.” At the mid-season break, Milla Mäkelä is now second in the championship standings, 40 points behind series dominator Toni Lähteenmäki and 32 points ahead of Ortju. The goal for the Finnish lady remains chasing her first win of the season in the final two rounds. The next V8 Thunder Finland Championship event is scheduled from 3rd to 4th September at Alastaro.