BMW riders enjoyed victories and podiums in both Superbike heats at the first Finnish National Championship race of the season, held on June 4-5 at the circuit of Botniaring in Jurva. After the qualifying sessions were over, it looked like the weekend would be a “walk in the park” for the BMW S1000RR riders Eeki Kuparinen, Erkka Korpiaho, Magnus Collin and Eki Kaulamo, who occupied the entire front row. One of the biggest surprises of the day was the pole position secured by a rider competing in his very first Superbike race, namely Eeki Kuparinen of the GULF BMW/Motomarket Racing Team.
The first race began with Collin and Korpiaho (GULF BMW/Motomarket) taking the early lead from the rest of the field. However, while Eeki Kuparinen was holding a comfortable third position, he encountered some gearshift problems, resulting in a high-speed crash where his RR somersaulted and was damaged beyond repair, meaning that he wouldn’t be able to enter the second race of the day. The following lap, Erkka Korpiaho joined Kuparinen on the sidelines, after high-siding his GULF-BMW RR in a tight corner.
This left two BMW riders remaining in the first race, with Magnus Collin taking the victory and second position going to the BMW Dealer Team/Motomarket Racing’s Eki Kaulamo. Completing the podium was Vesa Kallio.
In race two, Erkka Korpiaho, who had hurt his hand quite badly in the race one crash, showed some real Finnish guts and entered the second Superbike race onboard his RR, wearing the “pit’s largest glove” to cover his bandaged hand. Magnus Collin and Korpiahio again escaped from the rest of the field and this time enjoyed a race-long battle. Collin led for a long while, entertaining the crowds and sliding his RR around the Botniaring circuit. However, Korpiaho passed Collin in the closing laps and then cruised to a comfortable win. Third in the race was Teemu Hiltunen, with Eki Kaulamo from the BMW Dealer Team taking fourth position.
Despite his race one crash, Erkka Korpiaho was glad to take the race two victory and the maximum 25 points. Pole-sitter Eeki Kuparinen wasn’t able to convert his fast pace into good results but analyzed his performance in a true racer’s manner: “These are the kind of things you have to learn and understand to develop as a rider. My target is to be fully focused to fight again at the next round, two weeks from now.”
Eki Kaulamo was quite happy with his 33 points earned from this first championship weekend. “Of course my target is always to win, but if it is not possible, you have to take the maximum points you can,” he said. “I need some victories to be able to challenge for the title, but this is a very good beginning to the season.”
Team manager of both BMW Teams, Esko Kuparinen, found a lot of positive things about the weekend, despite the crashes: “We learned a lot more about the set-up for the wet conditions and the pole position of Eeki was a great job. The victories were good but all our focus is now directed towards the next round.”