By Tarek Ramchani
Joonas Lappalainen is one of the eighteen full season drivers in the newly formed Audi Sport TT Cup. The young talented driver from Finland had an impressive debut with new behind the wheel of his #45 Audi TT racer nt the opening round at Hockenheim.
We were pleased to have an interview with Joonas Lappalainen. A very interesting Q/A about his 2015 season in the Audi Sport TT Cup and more.
You can follow Joonas Lappanainen news and updates on his official Facebook page and his official Twitter account.
This is part 1 of the interview.
You had a great opening round at Hockeheim with strong performances in qualifying and the two races, tell us more about your weekend.
Yes, the first round at Hockenheim was indeed a strong opening round. It was my first time on the track and in the 50 minute free practice it took me a few laps to get to know the circuit. As we had new tires for the session, I couldn't get the best performance out of them in the early laps, finishing P10.
The qualifying was a totally new experience for me, as it was my first time in rainy conditions in a touring car. I knew that I was capable of clinching a good result from the qualifying, but taking P3 and P3 in my first touring car qualifying session was a bit of a pleasant surprise with more experienced drivers around me.
For Race 1 on Saturday it was once again dry and everybody had new tires, which were saved from the qualifying. My start was not so good, as I made mistake with the revs, so Dennis overtook my already in to the first corner. From there we got a solid gap to the following car, but he closed up really fast. He then overtook me and I made a few mistakes what I'm to blame of and could not really challenge again. Then Tanner Foust closed up and we had a bit of a scramble with some contact also (:D, which he came out on top, as I missed my braking point totally going into the hairpin. I finished P6, but got the points for P5, as Tanner was a guest driver.
On Sunday it was raining yet again for Race 2 and starting from P2, I was confident of taking a good result. I got of decently, dropping to P3. Then the first safety car came out due to a crash. After this I got to P2 for a while after which I dropped back down to P3. Next lap I saw myself taking back the second place and gaining a good distance to the pack behind, but then the SC came out again stopping my chase for P1. Nevertheless, after the safety car, I just couldn't pull off again and saw myself dropping eventually down to P5. I was not happy with the result, as without my own "rookie" mistakes I could've taken a podium and even might have had a shot to fight for the win.
After the races at Hockenheim I'm standing P4 in the championship. I am very pleased with the first weekend, but I know that I could've done a better result without my mistakes and some knowledge.
The newly formed Audi Sport TT Cup had a successful launch, how competitve the field is?
I think the field in the new cup is very competitive. There are some more experienced drivers and then there are drivers who haven't raced for so long yet. I think the first round didn't fully show how tight the field can be, as it was a step into the new for some drivers, like myself, so I am expecting the series to get closer as we move on.
Tell us more about the Audi TT race car.
The TT Cup race car is truly a race car. With its 310 horsepowers and low weight, the car is surprisingly quick and nimble, and it surprised me also. The front-wheel drive makes the car very accurate, but fun to drive, as there is a lot of power on the front-wheels, causing wheelspin. To get a good lap, you must really know the right technique for the throttle usage.
Round two of the championship will be at the Norisring, what are your expectations there?
Norisring will be a new race for me, as it is my first time on a street circuit. I don't really know what to expect, because it is such a special circuit to race at. Also, everyone will improve from the opening round at Hockenheim and the circuit is really short and the lap times are very close, so I believe the field will be closer this time around. We have to see how the weekend kicks off then, but I am aiming to be inside the top 10.
How great for the Audi Sport TT Cup drivers to share the race weekends with the prestigious DTM?
It is great that the Audi Sport TT Cup is driven with the DTM. The DTM is the biggest sports car series in Europe and they have a lot of spectators and followers, so it is very important that we are there as a support class. Through this we benefit from the visibility they have to offer, and they get great and close racing in exchange.