By Irina Boyarskaya
Photo: Akis Temperidis, PCCF
You know, there are the races where an invisible spookycat is sitting on the road side. And sometimes it walks down the track. A racer it crosses the road will have misfortunes, problems, difficulties.
It seems that Nogaro faced the spookycat championship on breaking the mirrors with empty bucket this weekend. In short, misfortunes were volleying the racers with a lavish rain. And we were not deprived of them too...
Fly-offs the track started already on free practices, fortunately, the track in Nogaro encourages it a lot: there are no gravel catchers, but only the grass welcomingly paving the shortest way to the wall for the pilot who made a mistake.
However, the first qualification was quite steady and brought the pole position to Maxime Jousse, and to Christophe Lapierre among the gentlemen drivers.
Oleksandr Gaidai demonstrated the second time result in Division B. Both the pilot and his coach Kevin Estre, who had arrived to see the race in Nogaro, were satisfied with the result.
K. Estre: "Oleksandr is already a professional, so I haven't a lot of work to do (laughing). But I have a great experience on this track, so I advise him various nuances, for example, the things that give the possibility to pass the qualification with the best results but that cannot be used during the race not to let a competitor overrun you.
There is no great gap with the Division B leader, so Gaidai has good chances to win the race at good start and clearly passed first laps".
Estre must have the second sight: just the start and the first lap were the most difficult for the PCCF participants.
Just after the lights of the starting signal light went out, Alexandre Cougnaut and Sasha Bottemanne collided in one of the turns. The water flown out the broken heat radiators instantly changed the adherence to the track, but not everybody could timely consider the fact and change the tactics: Tom Dillmann and Cristophe Lapierre flew off the track, and Lapierre damaged the car so that he wouldn't be able to start even on Sunday.
The whole company of participants not listed in the starting bulletin: safety car and marshals, hastily cleaning the track of the water, oil and wreckage. Time moves on, and 25-minute race seamlessly turns into 13-minute.
Finally the safety car hides in its place, and spookycats begin to boss the show – now they got down to Côme Ledogar, sent from the 4th to the 13th position by the slight bumping of Nicolas Armindo.
Jimmy Antunes attacks Armindo, and Antunes himself is being pressed by Lonnie Martins. Oleksandr Gaidai, the leader of the Division B qualification, is targeted to the Nicolas Marroc's position.
Maxime Jousse and Joffrey De Narda are calmly proceeding towards the finish. But the serious competition starts for the third place: Jimmy Antunes is determined to drive Vincent Beltoise away from the bronze podium.
At the same time Romain Monti overruns Oleksandr Gaidai. Four minutes and a half left till the end of the race, and Gaidai makes a decision to let Côme Ledogar to overrun: he is fighting for the title in Division A, and these qualification points are very important to him, but for Division B pilot Ledogar's position is of no importance:
It seems that Jimmy Antunes is about to jump out of his Porsche and run in front of it to overrun the tenacious Beltoise finally. The trials to overrun from the right, from the left and almost from the upper and lower sides, annoying headlight flashes – Antunes makes everything to throw the competitor off the balance. However, the calming waggle of the checkered flag influences beneficially on Vincent Beltoise's nerves and his result. He got bronze following Maxime Jousse and Joffrey De Narda.
As a postscriptum the direction of the race penalizes Nicolas Armindo with 30 seconds: he shouldn't have bumped!...
Division B has completely international podium: Ukraine, Belgium, Norway. Tsunami RT celebrates Oleksandr Gaidai's victory and one more qualification point – for the best lap!
O. Gaidai: "The first lap was rather dangerous: all the road was covered with water, cars were sliding, flying, whatever. There were a lot of possibilities to make a mistake, but I coped with it.
In general, the result is good. Am I too severe to myself? But it's not bad! Being a maximalist is a way forward!"
Porsche Carrera Cup France, Nogaro
Race 1 (overall)
1. JOUSSE Maxime (Sebastien Loeb Racing) +14 laps
2. DE NARDA Joffrey (@Loeb Racing) +2.048
3. BELTOISE Vincent (Racing Technology) +6.413
...11. GAIDAI Oleksander (Tsunami RT) +14.124
...18. CAUMES Jacques (Caumes Armatures) +1:09.234
Race 1 (Division B)
1. GAIDAI Oleksander (Tsunami RT) 14 laps
2. GLORIEUX Jean (Speed Lover) +2.703
3. LINDLAND Roar (Sebastien Loeb Racing) +7.184
...6. CAUMES Jacques (Caumes Armatures) +1:05.110
On Sunday the spookycats woke up at daybreak and developed the whole system of nasty tricks for Porsche Carrera Cup France participants. So, for example, Jean Glourier found a way to drive to the wall during the qualification. Fortunately, cats are independent creatures, they don't become attached to one person, so the losers of yesterday got the chance to remedy the situation: Tom Dillmann won the pole position and was accompanied by Come Ledogar on the first line of the starting grid.
Unfortunately, not all the participants were lucky enough to reverse the momentum: Christophe Lapierre moved to the viewers – after the knockabout start the day before the geometry of his car's body didn't comply the aesthetic concept of Porsche at all.
But Oleksandr Gaidai earned one more qualification point in the morning: for the pole-position in the forthcoming Sunday race. It was high time to think that everything was going too smoothly. But the sun was shining, birds were singing and the mood was perfect, as the qualification result:
"I wanted to be in top-10 so much, and deep inside it was more important task for me than the pole position in my qualification. I managed to achieve both goals and I am so satisfied! The fact that today I will start the race from higher position that the last year's winner, Gael Castelli, is not a bad result, in fact!
The championship runs to its end, and the sense of the victory proximity both of the professionals and of the gentlemen makes them so vulnerable. I haven't ever seen such a number of mistakes on any track as those of this weekend..."
The first mistake was made by Tom Dillmann, who ceded the leading position to Côme Ledogar. Dillmann didn't manage to return to the leading position to the end of 35-minute race despite all his attempts.
Romain Monti and Alexandre Cougnaut make a mistake rolling away to the end of the second top-10 of the peloton. Jimmy Antunes who finally caught up with Vincent Beltoise makes a mistake bumping the latter during the overrun.
Christophe Hamon makes a horrible mistake and gets the pit lane crossing for the incident with Bruno Strazzer. The prize winners of yesterday, Maxime Jousse and Vincent Beltoise, make a mistake: touch, turn and losing position...
Lonnie Martins mistakes at the attempt of the overrun of Oleksandr Gaidai having bumped the Tsunami RT pilot. After the contact the right front wheel of Gaidai's Porsche begins to rub the bumper and rapidly run hot, and Gaidai, of course, loses the speed abruptly together with his sixth position in overall qualification. However, all his competitors in Division B are far behind, so they don't threaten the gold podium of Oleksandr...
Joffrey De Narda also makes a mistake when attempting to attack Gaidai and flies off the grass. Fortunately, the turn is shallow, and De Narda continues the race having lost several positions.
Maxime Jousse is fiercely trying to overrun the Tsunami RT pilot and pleases the viewers with endless but not very successful attacks. Double reshuffle when it seemed that Gaidai gave the way to the competitor was very impressive, but won back the position with the beautiful entry into the turn on the inner trajectory.
Nearer to the end of the race Jousse managed to overrun Gaidai, but it didn't influence the result of the Division B qualification. It seemed that nothing would change when the last lap of the race started...
And the cameras of the live broadcast show the crowd in the turn, impact, smoke of tires, scraps of the tire scattering around and above hiding the bump stop and... Porsche with the Ukrainian flag on the roof helplessly nuzzling into the wall!..
O. Gaidai: "On the penultimate lap in the last turn Sasha Bottemanne made a mistake and I was trying to pass him. In general, it was possible, but he started to drift to the left, then to the right significantly, and I couldn't genuinely overrun him. So I took the position directly behind him after the first lap. And when I was already entering the second turn, there was a strong impact into the rear wing and rear wheel and I flew towards the wall. I think it was Alexandre Cougnaut to bump me.
25 cars participate in the Championship. There are fast and correct: as long as I followed Maxime Jousse, he made any attempt neither to bump nor to poke me out... But there are different racers, and you should know them. I know Sasha Bottemanne, so I am always very careful with him. And I didn't know about Cougnaut... And the place was so narrow, not for overrun. To try to enter inside the turn there is to certainly result in big incident.
I am OK, I had a medical examination, but I was fastened very well. I regret a lot about the car. And I regret about the positions, I was noticeably faster than all the Division B drivers.
This is my first incident in a long time not due to my mistake... I was just bumped towards the wall. I underestimated some of my rivals."
Porsche Carrera Cup France, Nogaro
Race 2 (overall)
1. LEDOGAR Come (Team Martinet - Alméras) 24 laps
2. DILLMANN Tom (Harting by RT) +0.778
3. ARMINDO Nicolas (IMSA Performance Matmut) +6.421
...19. GAIDAI Oleksander (Tsunami RT) +1 lap
...21. LEPESQUEUX Antoine (Larbre Competition) +2 laps
Race 2 (Division B)
1. LINDLAND Roar (Sebastien Loeb Racing) 24 laps
2. GLORIEUX Jean (Speed Lover) +20.442
3. STRAZZER Bruno (Team Martinet - Alméras) + 21.466
...5. GAIDAI Oleksander (Tsunami RT) +1 lap
6. CAUMES Jacques (Caumes Armatures) +1 lap
That's it. Come Ledogar celebrates his victory, shakes hands with Tom Dilmann and Nicolas Armindo on the podium. Gaidai's broken car is being taken away from the track. Mechanics pull up their sleeves. The team managers take their calculators: there is only one stage ahead.
It's no time to correct the mistakes, but plenty of possibilities to make them. Who will be moderate enough not to ruin the results of the work of the whole year with his hot temper? What will the end of PCCF-2014 season look like? We will know it in less than a month on Paul Ricard autodrome.