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BaTCC Pärnu Summer Race 2023- Porsche Ring (EST) 18.-19.8.

Fifth round of PSCNEZ would be crucial for the championship and all teams seemed to be slightly nervous before the event. Racing with Baltic Touring Car Championship (BaTCC) gave a perfect environment to focus fully on racing. Timetable worked perfectly and teams got to start their practise early in Thursday.

Friday evening came and it was clear the qualifying would be on an evenly damp track. After event 4 the word wet is reserved for something totally different. The track was drying, so it was expected that everyone would set their fastest times at the end. Matias Salonen (Relaa Racing) made a small mistake in the beginning inadvertently overtaking a car under yellow flag, which resulted in a two position grid penalty. Luck played part in the end with a car missing braking point at turn 7. This caused a brief yellow flag causing fast laps to be deleted from some drivers and some missing their window completely. Salonen and Jani Käkelä (39 Racing Team) were still trying and both had their lap times deleted. Käkelä kept his head cool and waited the track to be clear. This was rewarded by a pole position on the final lap. Matia Salonen was only P6, with Henri Tuomaala (Iceboys Racing) and Olli Kangas (SPP-Racing) taking provisionally the next grid spots. Relaa Racing made an appeal of the fastest lap of Salonen, and after checking the video it was clear the yellow flag was lifted when Salonen was on his fastest lap. The time was reinstated and Salonen would get P3 in the end.

Race 1 had the teams thinking about tire choice until grid. It had been raining but there was a nice steady wind and onlt thin clouds. This meant the track would dry significantly during the race. Only Porsche Baltic took the risk of running slicks. Tuomaala managed to snatch lead in T2, but had top take defensive line to T3 since Käkelä was still alongside. A small wet patch meant he lost the rear and spun, sliding back to the track. Käkelä, Kangas and Zviedris went pas easily, but Salonen had to slow down to avoid collision. This opened a gap which seemed impossible to get back. Kangas seemed to be untouchable leading by almost 3 seconds at times. All drivers were seeking for a wet line to cool their tires and Zviedris seemed to do this best. Kangas had to drop the pace to save his tires and at the end of the race the trio was again together. It seemed Zviedris would be able to strategically overtake Kangas on the final laps, but suddenly he backed out and had to start defending against Käkelä. Zviedris had collected a slow puncture in right rear tire from the debris on the track and had a tire pressure warning. He prepared for the inevitable and dropped his pace especially on the corners turning to left. Salonen had been driving patiently in P4 and surprised everyone by being right behing the pack. Zviedris did absolutely everything he could, but the tire gave out on the last left corner of the last lap. In the end first win of 2023 for Olli kangas, Käkelä took an important second place and Salonen could catch Zviedris in the points standings. Valters kept the car under control and drove to the finish line with a flat tire, securing important points. Eduardas Klepikas proved the tire choice had been tricky, he lost about 7 seconds/lap in the beginning but finished P6 and took pole position for Race 2. He was only 15 seconds behind the leading cars on the last lap, so another 10 minutes would have made the tire choice really difficult for all teams. In the end Kangas had managed his pace perfectly taking his first win of the season with a 0,6 second gap to Käkelä.

Race 2 started in dry and cool conditions. Thomas Kangro (Porsche Estonia) started from P2 and managed to get a better line out of turn 2 overtaking Klepikas. Käkelä did not hesitate and started to put pressure on Klepikas right away. Small hesitation into turn 1 gave Käkelä the opportunity to force Klepikas take the outside line and Salonen saw his chance to follow right behind. There was nothing Eduardas could do but to follow the fast Finns who started to hunt down Kangro´s lead. Salonen tried to overtake Käkelä, but held back as he saw Käkelä was catching Kangro. Forcing Käkelä to defend would mean Kangro would probably have an easy win, he decided to see how Jani would challenge the local fan favourite. Zviedris started from P8 and had to pass midfield cars. This time he was slightly too eager and spun in the same place as Tuomaala in race 1. He stalled his car and had to start the chase from last place, ending back in P8.

Käkelä made an unusual mistake locking his tire into turn 1 and dropping all the way to P10. Klepikas had a chance to be on podium, but it was winner of race 1 Olli Kangas who managed to get past and take P3 by a 2 second margin. Salonen seemed to be able to challenge Kangro in the end but a big lockup into turn 1 meant he had a huge flat spot in his front tire. Kangro showed once again his speed at Porsche Ring by making no mistakes and taking home the biggers trophy at the podium.

PSCNEZ Season 2023 ends at Alastaro Circuit 1.-2.9. on the new layout. This is a new loop of the track and will provide an element of surprice since the drivers get to drive on the new portion for the first time in free practise. Livestream will be available.