Porsche Club Festival Finland started the second half of the season. 6 race starts and 5 different winners meant points table was very even. Series leader Matias Salonen (Relaa Racing) had clocked a new track record in Alastaro Circuit at the first event, so of course all eyes were on him.
Valters Zviedris (Capkausko Autosportas) has become more familiar with the car during the season and would definitely try his best to score points in this event. Henri Tuomaala (Iceboys Racing) is always strong in Alastaro, so betting on any of these three drivers would be justified.
PSCNEZ has not seen rain since testing and media days 2022. One practise session in previous event was on damp track, but this time the forecast was really unpredictable. Heavy but small stormclouds were circling the track on Thursday, but until race 1 the track was dry.
Qualifications were tight, top-3 was within 0,2 seconds. This time it was Zwiedris who clocked the fastest time, beating Tuomaala by 0,1 seconds. Overtaking in the wet would be even more difficult, so Salonen would have to stay close to Zviedris in the start.
Teams had rain tires in their cart, but all cars left pits with slick tires for Race 1. During pre-grid it was clear it would rain heavily and all teams changed to rain tires. Looking at the pictures it is hard to believe the cars left pits with slicks, but this just shows how unpredictable the weather really was. An extra warm-up lap was added to help drivers see how much it was raining and make start safer. Alastaro Circuit has surprisingly even grip on and off the racing line during rain, but water drains to the main straight both from the runoff area and from the slight uphill of turn 1. This makes aquaplaning more severe than anywhere else and this was seen during both races.
Thomas Kangro (Porsche Estonia ) started P4 and saw exactly what happened in turn 1. All drivers started braking at the same time, but for some reason Salonen lost grip on the rear wheels. He got the car back under control but too late. A small touch to Tuomaala´s rear wheel meant both spun. Salonen had a damaged track rod and had to forfeit. Tuomaala got stuck on the gravel and the race was red flagged. Second start was succesful and the race got underway. Zviedris could keep a comfortable gap to Tuomaala but the group behind them had four cars within 4 seconds. Olli Kangas (SPP-Racing) had a good race climbing from P6 to podium. Tommi Haru (Porsche Estonia) was unable to take part in previous events, but he showed what can be expected later in the season. P9 to P4 and win in Masters classification was a good start to his season.
On Saturday warm up it became evident Race 2 had to be postponed until afternoon. Cars could not accelerate on the main straight past second gear without aquaplaning and forecast showed a big shower right at the original start time. Weather in the afternoon was significantly better. Zviedris could control the pace followed by Tuomaala but it was Salonen who stole the show. Starting last he climbed momentarily to P3 showing he is equally fast in the rain as in dry conditions. Race distance in these conditions was about 14 laps, but heavy rain shower on the main straight made driving too dangerous on lap 10. Many of the drivers could not slow down for T1 and had to take the escape road. Safety car was called to neutralize the race but after 3 laps it was clear the race would also end behind safety car. After a brilliant drive it was Salonen who had the most frustrating end. Just as the safety car was coming to the track, Salonen missed T1 and lost two positions. "I'm truly disappointed. The pace was fantastic, but a small mistake spoiled the race. I was closing in on the second-place driver, but I tried to bite off more than I could chew and made a driving error," Salonen commented after the race. In the end it was Jani Käkelä (39 Racing Team) who climbed to podium in race 2. Not taking unnecessary risks yelded a trophy and good team points in very difficult conditions.
Valters Zviedris took the lead in driver's classification and 39 Racing Team continues in first place in Team standings. Next event in Pärnu Summer Race 18.-19.8. will give huge pressure for all drivers. Zviedris has a strong grip on the overall victory, but there is no room for errors like Porsche Ring qualifications last time.