FINLAND UIM F4 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
17/18 June saw the opening 2 rounds of the 2017 UIM F4 World Championships take place in Imatra, Finland. The ‘Vuoksi Race’ welcomed 19 entries from 9 nations all hoping to make their mark at the first event.
ROUND 1 – Qualifying
With only a maximum of 16 boats allowed onto the race course at one time, the competitors had to be split into two groups (A + B). The top 15 competitors from group A & B combined were moved through to qualifying session 2. Early on, Tuukka Lehtonen (FIN) & Kalle Vippo (FIN) threw down a serious challenge to the rest of the field with impressive 50 second lap times and guaranteed their spot in the top 6 shoot-out ahead of Juho-Matti Manninen (FIN), Marcus Jernfast (SWE), Ben Morse(GBR) & Magnus Sederholm (FIN).
With the rest of the fleet through to the main race, the top six took part in a nail-biting shoot-out of 2 flying laps each. This time Kalle Vippo stunned the crowds when he produced a 49 second lap lead ahead of Tuukka & Juho-Matti who could do nothing to match the blistering pace of last year’s F4 World Championship Bronze Medalist.
With the sun shining and the crowds ready for the action, disaster struck for UK’s Ben Morse on the way back from the parade lap when a broken wire made his trim pump unusable, and forcing him to retire from the start grid. When the lights went out, a confident Kalle Vippo stormed into the lead being closely chased by Manninen & Tuukka. Morgan Jernfast had a disastrous time after being pushed out by other competitors not keeping their lanes on the start straight, and as a result, lost 4 places by the time he arrived at the first turn.
With the adrenaline pumping, an over enthusiastic Tuuka caught a rogue wave on turn 2 and hooked his boat narrowly avoiding Tuukka. F4 rookie Ben Jelf & Magnus Sederholm took advantage of the situation and stormed past as he tried to recover the situation. The 3-way battle went on for the next 14 laps with Tuukka eventually overtaking Magnus but not managing to catch Jelf.
Whilst all of the drama was going on behind them, Juho-Matti & Nikita were busy pushing hard to catch Kalle Vippo who had built up a massive lead. Despite keeping up the fight right to the last lap, their efforts were in vain and a triumphant Kalle Vippo took the race win followed by Juho Matti-Manninen 2nd & Nikita Lijcs 3rd.
After the race a jubilant Kalle Vippo had this to say about todays result. “I am so happy to get a race win here in Finalnd. My team and I have worked hard over the winter to prepare for this championship and I am so happy that I managed to get the win for them and my sponsors.”
ROUND 2 – Qualifying
With the same amount of entries in round 2, the qualifying procedure from Round 1 was repeated with 2 groups established for Q1, the top 15 combined would go through to Q2 and then top six shoot-out. However, this time everyone’s speeds had changed and the dominant performance came from 2016 World F4 Champion Juho-Matti whose top six shoot-out time was nearly a second quicker than closest rival Tuukka, followed by Morgan Jernfast, Nikita Lijcs, Magnus Sederholm & Kalle Vippo who had lost some of the pace of his previous days performance.
With the bad weather threatening to put a stop to the main race, the competitors lined up on the start grid and quickly took their positions ready for the countdown. As the lights went out Juho-Matti’s boat flew off the line like a rocket which left Tuukka & Nikita fighting for 2ndplace, with Nikita eventually winning the position battle.
Further back in the field, Sebastian Haugaard found his speed and was battling in 7th place to hold off Ben Morse & Ben Jelf who were gaining on him with every lap. After a bold move by Morse, Sebastian was caught by surprise which nearly ended in disaster when his boat tipped on its side and ‘the Ben’s’ powered past underneath him. Luck was fortunately on Sebastian’s side and his boat landed the right way up and he went on to finish the race.
At the front of the pack, Juho-Matti was giving the rest of the field a master-class in precision driving skill and showing everyone why he was the current world champion. He was being followed closely by Nikkita Lijcs who was feeling the pressure from Tuukka in 3rd & Morgan in 4th, but all three managed to keep their cool whilst negotiating past some unhelpful back-markers who were blocking their paths.
With nobody near to challenging him, Juho-Matti cruised to an easy victory with Nikita 2nd & Tuukka 3rd. Following them was Morgan Jernfast who drove a great race in 4th, and Race 1 winner Kalle Vippo in 5th. Following technical checks, Kalle was disqualified from Race 2 as his propellor did not comply with the class rules which moved Magnus Sederholm into 5th and the rest of the competitors all gained an extra place.
Speaking after the race a very happy Juho-Matti had this to say, “ Today went perfectly for the Motor Mix Team. We had a great qualifying session this morning, so we were confident that we had the speed we needed to get the job done and win the race. I have a new Lonnberg boat this season and I am still trying to learn how to get the best set-up for maximum speed from the new boat. This morning we hit the jackpot with the changes we had made, and I am very happy to have secured 2nd yesterday and 1st today.”
With 2 days of racing completed and a strong start to their 2017 campaigns, the teams will head to the UK on 1st & 2nd July for rounds 3 & 4 of the F4 World Championships where we are sure the competition will become even more intense as the battle for the podium top spot continues.