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FinTrack I, Tampere 06.01.2001

After a 6 week break with no races for me it was time for the first race in the Finnish FinTrack series. The race was held in Tampere, in the middle of Finland, the first weekend in January. There's usually a lot of drivers coming to the races in Tampere, probably because of it's location in the "middle" of Finland. In this race we had 50 drivers in the modified touring car class, which is a very big amount for an indoor race in Finland. The favorites for victory were Schumacher factory driver and multiple Worlds A main driver Teemu Leino and 2-time touring euros #2 Sakke Ahoniemi and maybe his little brother Simo, both Corally drivers.

I had been practicing more than usual after the last race so I was quite confident I could have a pretty good race. However, I have never really come to terms with the carpet at Tampere. I have probably done about 6 races there but never a good race. So I did not really know what to expect of the race. What's special about the carpet there is that the traction comes up quite quickly, but it never stabilizes, the grip level is consistently changing. 

So I got there on Saturday morning and the car was quite good from the beginning. It understeered a bit but I figured that once the traction comes up it should be good. There was no free practice like usual, in stead we had 3 rounds of controlled practice, then the timed practice and after that 3 rounds of qualifying followed by the finals. Everybody got to race at least 2 finals and those in the A had 3. It was nice that everybody got at least 2 finals as it is always nice with more race-time.

In the timed practice session I tried running Yokomo 138M front tires and 138G rear, with 037M inserts. It made the car quite quick, but it was very hard to do consistent lap times. I had them mounted on 24mm wheels and I think maybe it could have worked had I had them on 26mm hoops. Anyway, for the first qualifying round I glued up a new set of Pit D25 front and D20 rear, with F inserts on 26mm wheels as this had worked well in free practice. ln the first round with the new tires I had problems with understeering for the first 2 minutes but after that it was better. Anyway I made too many mistakes so it was no good round. I was surprised that I could be 14th with a run like that. For the next round I only lowered the front of the car a bit and checked the tweak, as I had not had time to do that before the first round :( In the second round my car was really quick and I was really happy with the way it worked. The problem was that I wanted too much too soon! I overdrove the car in the beginning of the race, and as a consequence I made a couple of mistakes again. The last 3 minutes of the race I was putting in some real good laps and made no mistakes...why could I not drive like that for the whole 5 minutes??? I did my best lap in that round. It was a 11.05 and was about 0.4-0.5 slower than the fastest lap in the whole race I think. I improved my overall result by a couple of seconds but dropped to 17th. For the third run I did not change anything on my car but again I made mistakes. Now one reason was that the car was becoming a bit too difficult to would traction roll if you put a wheel just on the edge of a kerb so I would have had to bee very careful. And of course other drivers improved and I was down to 21...pole position in the C! Yeah...great!!!! :( 

Teemu took TQ ahead of Sakke and Simo and those three were really in a class of their own as usual. In  4th spot was the top Yokomo with Jarno Siltanen driving very well indeed. He was using Masami's setup from the 2000 LRP Touring car race. You cn find the setup here. After the top3 it was very close...and of course I can say that my car was quick enough for the A. IF I had made no mistakes I would have been in the A main as well. Loser... 
However, I was not the only one to have a bad race. Many previous winners found themselves very low in the results. For example, the winner of the nats from last summer qualified 17th or something like that...

I went into the first final not trying to get a result, I just used it as a test. I tried the Yokomo tires again and they worked very well...after about 2 minutes or something when they got to the right temperature! But of course I had already been lapped by then. For the second final I just mounted the Pits back on and tried to have a clean race. How wrong I would be... The start went well and I got a lead of a few meters but already on the first lap it all went wrong. The car had so much grip so that it rolled. It was not too bad as I landed on the wheels again and was about 3rd still I guess but then I got hit and was last as usual. So I started over and worked my way up to 2nd but then I made a mistake and dropped to 4th. A typical end to a bad race for me. Loser... 

Watching the A finals were great however. Sakke won the first one and Teemu had a DNF. In the second  main Sakke was chasing Teemu for most of the race. Teemu's car seemed to be very loose and hard to drive. Once he lost the lead to Simo, when he tangled with Sakke, but he somehow managed to win that round. How he could with a car handling like that, I dunno... So going into the last main they had one win each and the last one would be the decider. Teemu took the lead and Sakke followed. Sakke's car seemed to be the faster as he could make up ground after he made some small mistakes. The run like 0-2 meters from each the whole race and it was such a great show to watch. Going onto the last lap it was still the same and as they approached the timing line Sakke tried a "do or die" maneuver but it did not work as Teemy won with a couple of thousands of a second! So Teemu won the race ahead of Sakke,SImo and Jarno with The Yoke in fourth place.

So what can I say...I had a bad race! But at least I got to watch the great A finals!

Loser (my new...umm I mean old!

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