By: Irina Boyarskaya
Photo: Pantelis Tzertzevelis
Sun and downpour, collisions and turns, breakdowns, fall-outs and unexpected final – and that's not the description of the whole season, not at all. This is only one round! The first round of Porsche Carrera Cup France in Ledenon!
Our pilot, Oleksandr Gaidai, considers the Ledenon circuit as one of the most complicated in the season. And he's not the one to think so! Tridimensional, with uphills and downhills, blind turns, capricious and stubborn. It's a perfect track for the start after the long interseason!
It wasn't easy to cope with Circuit de Lédenon's peculiarities even after the March practices. Gaidai underheated the front wheels in the qualification, that led to the certain results: the third position in Division B.
It became clear after the warm-up lap that notwithstanding the end of the race it would be better than for the driver from the pole position, Maxime Jousse: he couldn't even reach the start, pour him, due to the breakdown. Sometimes it happens: you've been waiting for the start from the beginning of November, and... good-bye for your expectations!
On the very first meters after the start of the race it became clear how the pilots were missing their favorite job. There were no compromises, no cessions and half measures, only passion to win and throttle pedal to the floor. Oleksandr Gaidai also rushed to the charge, having overrun two of the competitors and trying up the position of Roar Lindland. But the Norwegian driver had his own plans for this day, and there wans't a point to give way to Gaidai. Pushed outside the track, Gaidai started to attack again, but the next touch cost him not only the turn and 3-4 lost seconds, but the broken wheel disk too. This, of course, is always influencing on the vehicle steerability, even if we are not speaking about the driving is at the limit.
And all were driving on the edge in that race. Christophe Lapierre managed to shoot ahead from the start and was leading for some time. Jim Pla was tailgating Steven Palette during the whole race never breaking. Palette was holding the peloton behind more than a half of the race and became the winner in this PCCF season.
Oleksandr Gaidai was also driving on the edge. And he entered one of the turns faster than it had to be made...
O. Gaidai: «The rear part of the car began to slide, got onto the mud, and there was such a place where I was dragged onto gravel because I had deviated from the trajectory. And there was nothing to do, it was the only option. So, I was on the gravel. Than I was taken back and tried to finish the last laps of the race."
However, the fans were not on the track and didn't see the dramatic scene: the video broadcasting of the race had been stopped earlier, and online timing followed it in a couple of minutes. But we were watching the broadcasting for a very long time the next day... But let's not run ahead.
Porsche Carrera Cup France 2015, round 1, Ledenon
Race 1 (overall)
1. PALETTE Steven (Martinet by Alméras) 18 laps
2. PLA Jim (Racing Technology) +0.238
3. GOUNON Jules (Martinet by Alméras) +10.743
...14. GAIDAI Oleksander (Tsunami RT) +2 laps
Race 1 (Division B)
1. LAPIERRE Christophe (Sebastien Loeb Racing) 18 laps
2. LINDLAND Roar (Team Martinet-Almeras) +13.472
3. PERFETTI Egidio (Martinet Team Pro GT) +13.940
...5. GAIDAI Oleksander (Tsunami RT) +2 laps
Sunday morning began from spit that wet the track just before the Division B qualification. The rain dribbled and stopped, and the sportsmen faced the choice of the tires for the qualification: rain or slick? Having considered all the pros and cons, Tsunami RT chose slick: it was slippery, but not actually wet.
Christophe Lapierre and Oleksandr Gaidai were exchanging with the best laps in search of the perfect trajectory on the drying track. As the track had dried, it revealed that the qualification time had already finished. Division A was qualifying on the dry asphalt already, certainly having pushed the gentlemen drivers to the end of the peloton. But in the gap of 1.4–1.5 sec from pole position the second belonged to the wet track (Lapierre finished the qualification on the 11th place, with the second place of the previous day), so the Tsunami RT pilot was rather optimistic.
Meanwhile, the sky was overcast and storm was gathering... And it wasn't at all clear what the weather would be during the race..
O. Gaidai: "I wouldn't mind uncertainty! Usually, when everything is uncertain, slick and strange, all the professional drivers quit using their usual trajectories and start to tear around. And I like the situation. I can drive, and the only thing I have to do is to drive faster than others. And that's I will do today. I want it to be like in Mugello the last year!"
We'll ask Oleksandr to keep his desires to himself. Who could suppose that he was the favorite child of the skies and all his fantasies were fulfilled and even more?! In an hour (that meant half an hour before the start) the track was a streambed of a full-flowing river where small Formula bolides were dangling aimlessly like a shipwreck.
The fans near the screens with live broadcasting had a lot of possibilities to hear light and festal music and learn the piece of track where the dirty camera looked in detail within the next hour and a half. Meanwhile, the team wasn't so lucky: they spent that hour on the pit lane having soaked to the bone (Irina Kolomeitseva's phone was swimming in her pocket!). Small lakes hidden with the romantic fog appeared in the lower parts of the track (as you remember, it's tridimensional). We might even have fished, bathed or caught the frogs there. But one thing was clear: there was no possibility to organize a race there.
The first racing weekend of the season had such a weird and unexpected end. At that wet note we are going to prepare ourselves to the next PCCF round on the Le Mane-Bugatti track. If only Gaidai wouldn't decide to dream on snowstorms...