By Irina Boyarskaya

Photo: Akis Temperidis


Be faster than all the peloton, demonstrating the best lap.
Get as high as possible in the table of results, even if you were far behind.
Become stronger than the competitors and finish on podium.
These are the tasks set by every pilot before the start. Le Castellet race wasn't an exception.



The nature expressly denied to recognize August 31 as the last day of summer and turned on the air heating on +30 degrees. So, those became +40 in the sun, and the Paul Ricard autodrome track wasn't equipped with umbrellas and beach chairs for some reason. Kerbs, asphalt, starting signal light, pit lane – all were in severe minimalist stile. And those who were hot, could push the accelerator to reach the finish sooner and get away from the red-hot Porsche!


It is worth warning that it seems that all the rest of the PCCI season we will watch as Formula 1 within the period of Michael Schumaher kingship or as WRC in the times of Sébastien Loeb. So, it is clear who is the first, and all the struggle starts from the second position. 18-year-old Matteo Cairoli kills all the intrigue as for the stage winner with every race. It was a compliment, we hope you understand.



So, it gets started, Cairoli goes forward from the pole, and we will mention him only congratulating with the next victory. Edoardo Liberati and Gianluca Giraudi immediately begin to decide who will be the second, and Tsunami RT pilot, Oleksandr Gaidai, is starting from the forth position patiently waiting for the end of the mess: getting out of track on the first lap is outside his plans!


Liberati becomes the scrimmage winner, and Gaidai confidently overruns the disappointed Giraudi on the second lap tailgating Liberati. Some more laps and Vito Postiglione reaches the forth position following Gaidai. The distance between the pairs of Liberati-Gaidai and Gaidai-Postiglione is less than a second, the pace is quite equal, so, the overrun is possible only if the competitor makes a mistake.



The Italian pilots interpret the track configuration rather liberally, not being above cut-offs. The rule "overran as the result of the cut-off – give the position back" is not followed by everybody.


And Gaidai makes a mistake on the 16th lap: a little bit later braking, a little less advantageous trajectory, of about half a second of time delay – and it was enough for Vito Postiglione and Gianluca Giraudi who joined with him for overrun.



Gaidai overruns Giraudi again on this lap, but the experienced Postiglione makes no mistakes and Oleksandr has to get by with the fourth position.


Meanwhile, there is a real leapfrog in the top-10: Giovanni Berton is fighting with Giraudi, the Russian pilots Melnikov and Salikhov are clearing up who's better, Giraudi and Fulgenzi overrun Berton, Berton gets back his position... And it is happening parallel with the continuous warnings of the stewards: cut-offs, cut-offs, cut-offs...



Giovanni Berton gets a knockout on the last lap: he is penalized with pit lane crossing. Minus three positions. Cairoli, Liberati, Postiglione are on the podium. But, as far as we could see, it wasn't the end of the story.


The hot Italian guy Vito Postiglione found a way to cut off the turn without returning the position to the competitor. Antonelli Motorsport team makes a protest that results in 25 seconds of penalty for Vito, and he is the ninth now, not third.


And Oleksandr Gaidai gets the bronze for the first race!



O. Gaidai: "The race wasn't an easy one. Cairoli was really the fastest, but the real fight started behind them, somewhere from the second to the sixth position. But I can tell myself that I did everything good enough!"


Porsche Carrera Cup Italia, Circuit Paul Ricard
Race 1


1. CAIROLI Matteo (Antonelli Motorsport) 21 laps
2. LIBERATI Edoardo (Ebimotors) +4.560
3. GAIDAI Oleksandr (Tsunami RT) +9.825
4. FULGENZI Enrico (Heaven Motorsport) +11.399
5. GIRAUDI Gianluca (Antonelli Motorsport) +13.056
15. WALTER Ben +1 lap


The teams are precipitating to prepare the cars for the second race: two rounds in one day mean that there is no time to rest! According to the rules, the first six cars start in reverse order – so, Oleksandr Gaidai is starting the race from the fourth position again.



Gaidai overruns Enrico Fulgenzi on the first turn, Matteo Cairoli lances to win back the positions – he has started on the sixth position, Edoardo Liberati is pressing Gaidai... TV cameras are late to follow the rapid change of atmosphere on the track!


Vito Postiglione bumps Enrico Fulgenzi who is driving in the tight group, and it almost results in the overall logjam. Contacts, bumpings – but almost everybody gets off the acute situation without significant losses. Peloton goes further to the track, and Fulgenzi – to the pit lane: he has finished the race; Postiglione also goes to the pit lane in some time to endure the punishment and to return in the race in the end of the peloton.


Meanwhile, the leading group was as follows: Cairoli (certainly!) – Liberati – Giraudi – Gaidai – Berton. On the seventh lap Oleksandr Gaidai makes an attempt to attack Gianluca Giraudi but makes a mistake. Contact, turn... and the fourth position becomes tenth!



Not everything is lost, the race goes on! But, as it revealed, it goes on together with disappointments: Gaidai slips on the spoilt oil and loses four more positions. Taking into account the fact that he has already managed to win back one position, he is 13th now.


Now all the fight is from 8 to 13 position. Glauko Salieri, Pietro Negra, Angelo Proietti, Alex De Giacomi and Oleksandr Gaidai are moving up and down on the rows of the table of results and it's rather hard to follow!




Meanwhile the peloton leaders calmed down and comfortably placed themselves on their positions, and only Ilya Melnikov exhausts Alberto De Amicis with continuous attacks.


Three laps before the finish. Oleksandr Gaidai overruns Alex De Giacomi and reaches the 9th position. Three more seconds are left to Angelo Proietti, who is the eighth. It is a lot, really a lot! But to reach the 8th position means to get the qualification point for the race. Will the Tsunami RT pilot have enough time to overrun one more rival?



Two laps before the finish. The distance shortened to one second and a half.


One lap before the finish. Gaidai loses 0.8 seconds to the Italian competitor.


The last lap – and Oleksandr Gaidai is shooting ahead extending his advantage with every sector!



It seemed that it was the last brightest moment of the race. But the beautiful stop in the weekend on Paul Ricard autodrome was put by Giovanni Berton. He demonstrated the master class on drag racing, unexpectedly "shooting" forward. Gianluca Giraudi, proceeding to the bronze podium and watching Berton in the side mirror, just saw him ahead in a part of a second! Mamma mia, adrenaline burst, strike on accelerator, dash – and the race ends with the photo finish for this tandem. And the Berton is first!


But it was Oleksandr Gaidai to make more beautiful exclamation mark of the beautiful full stop, having demonstrated the best lap in the race!



O. Gaidai: "That race could be my moment of glory, I was able even to win it, I was driving really well. But everything started from my mistake during the overrun, and the result was as we can see. I am disappointed. I had chances but I lost them.


The only positive impression of the race is my best lap. It is the first time in my career."


Porsche Carrera Cup Italia, Circuit Paul Ricard
Race 2


1. CAIROLI Matteo (Antonelli Motorsport) 21 laps
2. LIBERATI Edoardo (Ebimotors) +4.582
3. BERTON Giovanni (Dinamic) +10.842
8. GAIDAI Oleksandr (Tsunami RT) +34.404
15. WALTER Ben +1 lap


In the end of the weekend we should mention that Oleksandr Gaidai didn't change the tradition and won the cup in Le Castellet. Two Italian stages and two podiums! And the PCCF stage in Magny-Cours is waiting in a week – new intrigue and new competition. There is no time to be bored!