Pekkanen and Webb victorious in Imatra on Saturday
Despite dry weather forecasts, Saturday dawned wet and grey in Imatra. During the morning's qualifying practices the conditions were more or less wet, even though the rain stopped before the first session, IRRC Supersport qualifying 1. The session opened with Pierre Yves Bian, who improved on every lap, being the top dog. He had to surrender his first place to Pauli Pekkanen, however.
By the second qualifying, in the afternoon, the track was nearly dry and the lap times were considerable faster. Pekkanen opened stron, being the first driver to break the two-minute barrier during the weekend on his opening lap. He managed to up his pace even further and gained the pole position with a time of 1,57.127. Right at the end of the session Matthieu Lagrive managed to climb to second with a lap time of 1,58.321. Third fastest time was Thomas Walther's 2,00.039.
The first, wet qualifying session of Superbike class Marko Rättö gunned himself to the first place before Horst Saiger and Didier Grams, but also here the grid was determined by the second session where the track was dry.
In the beginning the fastest ones were Marek Cerveny, Didier Grams and Horst Saiger, but soon Danny Webb took the lead. Erno Kostamo, however took himself first to the second place and on the following lap to the lead, which he held to the end despite a harmless crash at the end of the session. Kostamo clocked a lap of 1,52.352, Webb was second with 1,52.522 and Grams was third with a time of 1,53.378.
Lightweight class had to wait for the start of their qualifying as the track was being cleaned after the first Superbike qualifying session. On the plus side, when the bikes were let on the track, the surface had nearly dried already. Henrik Voit, confident with his lead, exited the track after just three laps. Second fastest was Timo Paavilainen and third Markku Taurama.
In Open 600 class familiar names, Pauli Pekkanen, Matthieu Lagrive and Thomas Walther took the top three positions. Pekkanen managed to up the pace by one more notch, improving his IRRC qualifying time by roughly one second. After Pekkanen, who was in a class of his own, Lagrive, Goetschy, Pierre Yves Bian and Christian Schmitz fought about positions 2 through 5 during the whole session.
The qualifying for Open 1000 class was led by Danny Webb. The battle for second and third was tight, with Marek Cerveny beating Didier Grams by just one thousandth of a second.
In the race 1 of IRRC Supersport, Pauli Pekkanen was left on fourth in the start with Matthieu Lagrieve taking the lead. Pekkanen managed to take himself on second position on the fist lap and on the second lap he overtook Lagrieve on the outside drawing an instant lead.
Goetschy, who had taken an aggressive start, had to surrender third place to Pierre Yves Bian. During the race, Pekkanen eased off slightly, but the others were still unable to keep up. In the end Pekkanen took a win by 7,8 second lead to Lagrive and Goetschy managed to finish third just before Bian.
Even more amazingly Pekkanen hasn't really ridden before Imatra and even his Triumph was built from several bikes as his number one bike, MV Agusta F3, had broken down in testing the weekend before Imatranajo.
In Superbike class Danny Webb took a good start, but it was Erno Kostamo who took the hole shot. The first start was red flagged, however, when Lukas Maurer and Juha Kallio collided on the first lap. After a considerable delay, the restart was shortened to just five laps.
In the restart, Webb forced himself on first with Kostamo second and Grams third. With a shifter malfunction Kostamo missed a breaking dropping a few places, but took himself quickly to second with flaboyant overtaking moves. Webb, however was getting away as Grams and Cerveny were pushing Kostamo. So far this year Webb has been unbeatable in IRRC series, with Kostamo on second and Grams third.
Sunday morning begins with Warm up sessions for all classes and races start in the afternoon. Live result service for Imatranajo can be found here.
(Images: Pekka Varis)