Successful end to a great week end. We may not have top paid drivers, but we have great young drivers, and the improvements are huge and fast. Mr Full Throttle Max Johansson smashed his way into the main, and finished 7th, Max Mört also made it in, finishing 9th, and Oskari Matilainen was 3rd in the Junior Final.
The final went pretty much how I figured it would. David took a while, about 10min to find his groove, then pulled away, and me and Svensson were left to battle for 2nd. But as can happen in racing, things sometimes go wrong, and David was out. This made the 2nd place battle as important as I had made it in my mind, the battle for the win. In a long main it is easy to lose focus, but you just have to keep turning laps and try and go as fast as you can, without making mistakes. You never know what will happen, so put yourself in the best possible position to take advantage of whatever happens.
It seemed that everything went right this race, I made a couple of changes for the main and they both worked. I reduced rear camber a bit, and increased toe in from 2.5 to 3. My car was easier to drive and it paid off. I ran AKA long wear medium, and they were really good with the Impact tread. They definitely last longer than the old medium. Great job to AKA for finally figuring the long wear compounds out. My REDS R7 also worked really well, and as I had 10min runtime I stopped at around 9min a few times, and then 8:30 later in the race. My mechanic John Sandberg has pitted for me at 3 nordics and I have won every time! Arto Heinonen helped him in the pits, so thank you to those guys too! Now it’s time to practice more and see if I can catch David.
Today was a good day in many ways. No I didn’t TQ, but I was on the pace. The last few years I haven’t been on the pace on these super high grip tracks, but today was different. I TQed the 1st run of the day, which was a 5min practice, and the last qualifying run. Svensson had the fastest run of the day which was a 5:01, and Ronnefalk and me both had 5:03’s. My three counting runs were 5:03, 5:03 and 5:06. Max Mört also had a good time in qualifying making the semi finals directly!
Ronnefalk is still the man to beat, posting multiple 32 lap times, but he kept making mistakes today. Normally those disappear in mains for him, so he will be tough to beat. Svensson and me are pretty even I would say at this point. It will be interesting to see how a longer run affects things. Sometimes in warm weather on high bite, cars change a lot in a longer run, and that could either spell disaster, or it could make someone even faster.
As I wrote a while ago this year is all about getting my driving right, and this week I basically started my preparation for the Euros and the Worlds. This race is a good place to start . I need to find pace, and be more aggressive, and that’s what I have been doing. I have made some mistakes, but at least I have been driving faster. I have changed my setup quite a bit after thinking long and hard about where the car is now, and what I need it to do on the track. The LV geometry and balance have made it possible for me to re-think previously determined “facts” of setup, and I am taking everything I have learned and all the improvements on the car and changing things up in the way I think will improve the performance for the Euros and the Worlds. This is the part of my job I really enjoy, and it is what I will be focusing on for the next few months.
Regardless of what happens tomorrow, I already know I am on the right track, and that is a good thing! I will explain the changes I have made, and the reasons for them later on. But basically, it’s all about maximising rear traction and stability, while adding steering at the same time. But the right kind of steering, not making the car nervous.
Busy busy day at the Nordic Championships. This is the only annual race that I have never missed since I first attended in 2000! I have been to every one since then, and managed to win it at least once in all 4 countries, which was my goal back in the day. Last year I was fast back home in Finland, and it will be interesting to see how I can do here against the Swedes on their home turf. Today I was almost on the pace, but I need a bit more. Let’s see how it goes tomorrow.