Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Finland 2018 - Haru in his new 991.2 had great pace at the opening round
Season starter dominated by Tommi Haru
Tommi Haru was well in control as the 2018 season was kicked off at the Latvian capital Riga. He led the race from the start to the checkered flag. Tommi found his brand new 991.2 cup car?s speed already at the free practice session although both Jim Rautiainen and Junior Program-driver Roope Rinne-Laturi were chasing his times tightly.
At the qualification Haru scored the pole position by a comfortable 0.4 second lead over Rinne-Laturi who beat Rautiainen by two tenths. Estonian Raivo Tamm - driving his first GT3 Cup Challenge season in a brand new 991.2 - was 4th on the grid just ahead of Lithuanian Jonas Karklys. Raimo Niemi from Relaa Racing was fast at their free practice but issues with gearbox forced him to stay at the sidelines when racing started.
1st race - tight fight for the 2nd place
First race took place on Saturday. Rookie Tuomo Pirhonen got a good start but when breaking into the fast second right-hander he spun full 360 but luckily no contacts were made. Pirhonen?s 997.2 suffered a flat tire and his race got a premature end.
Rest of the pack followed Haru and it became evident after the first few laps that the he was the man to beat. A tight fight for the 2nd place continued throughout the race between Rinne-Laturi, Rautiainen and Tamm. During the last lap Rautiainen secured him the second place while Rinne-Laturi settled for 3rd leaving Tamm off the podium. Junior Program-driver Oliver Tiirmaa was fifth and Jonas Karklys sixth.
2nd race ended prematurely with a red flag.
Beside some fine close racing a bit of drama was seen on the send race. Haru pulled away and the trio consisting of Rautiainen, Rinne-Laturi and Tamm raced for the 2nd and 3rd place. Junior Rinne-Laturi was leading the pack followed closely by Tamm. Rautiainen made a slight mistake braking a bit late touching Tamm?s car and forcing Tamm off the tarmac. This cost Tamm several places and dropped also Rautiainen back as the jury saw that he had earned a Stop & Go-penalty. Meanwhile the rookie Pirhonen had taken the third position passing both Tiirmaa and Karklys. Haru and Rinne-Laturi were not challenged for their 1 / 2 positions but Pirhonen felt pressure as both Karklys and Rautiainen were closing the gap on him.
Unfortunately for Pirhonen he made a small but crucial mistake at the fast section of the circuit on lap 12 ? he lost control and hit the wall. This did not only stop Pirhonen?s race but it also caused red flag and the race to end prematurely.
Final results of the 2nd race were (standings per last full lap) 1) Haru 2) Rinne-Laturi 3) Pirhonen 4) Karklys 5) Rautiainen 6) Tiirmaa