By: Irina Boyarskaya
Photo: Akis Temperidis
If the opening of Porsche Carrera Cup France was literally washed off with shower rain including race cancellation, the first round of Porsche Carrera Cup Italia was all but sunken under the pile of curious referees' decisions.
The beginning was rather positive. Oleksandr Gaidai and the newly-minted Porsche Scholarship participant Come Ledogar had perfect free practices having demonstrated the third and the second time results, very close to the Italian driver Riccardo Agostini. Come increased the speed during the qualification ("No surprise! I was just improving it step-by-step...") and won the pole. After the ideal first segment of qualification Oleksandr overheated the front wheels a little bit and turned out to be on the seventh position of the starting grid.
To the moment of the start everybody were satisfied with everything: weather, nature, starting positions, cars condition and sms from fans. But the moment of the start was the last second according to the plan and logic.
As usually in Monza, the chicane named Rettifiglio was always ready to make the fans happy with cut-offs, turns, and pushes, especially just after the start. Come Ledogar was entering the first turn a little bit ahead of Riccardo Agostini, and the Italian driver pushed him off on the outer side of the turn. So Ledogar had to cut off the left turn to avoid the collision and massive logjam. He was not the only one to do the turn, but there was an important difference: he started first, so he didn't won anything with this position cut-off.
After the mess in Rettifiglio Ledogar and Agostini went ahead. The next group also shown up in the insidious chicane: having jumped on the kerb, Oleksandr Gaidai damaged the front bumper. Mattia Drudi appeared beyond the top-10 after having started from the wonderful forth position. Alberto De Amicis was rushing forward. Stefano Colombo performed the turn. Angelo Proietti finished already all covered with smoke, both outside and in the cabin, as it seemed...
Andrea Fontana and Enrico Fulgenzi unitedly attacked Oleksandr Gaidai. Fulgenzi passed the Ukrainian driver clearly, but Fontana pushed the Gaidai's Porsche hardly and damaged its right front wing.
The rest of the race was watched in one breath. Turns and mistakes, numerous overruns and fight for each position gave us a wonderful show! Meanwhile, Ledogar and Agostini are well ahead, and at a certain remove but over a significant distance from the following loud and tiring company there was Gianluca Giraudi rushing to bronze. He was tightly and energetically followed by six cars including Oleksandr Gaidai.
Nearer to the finish the warm company lost Enrico Fulgenzi who was trying to push Zhang Da Sheng out of the way so hard that he damaged the wheel and fell out of the race. As a dessert, we were admiring two more turns performed by Mattia Drudi and Alex De Giacomi. At the end of the race Alberto De Amicis pushed Oleksandr Gaidai and overran him, occupying the fifth position. And finally, Come Ledogar, Riccardo Agostini and Gianluca Giraudi passed the referee with the checkered flag followed by the rest of the participants who reached the finish.
The season is open! Come Ledogar is the first PCCI-2015 winner!
C. Ledogar: "I like winning! But it was very difficult because Porsche Carrera Cup Italia level is very high. Agostini was behind me during the whole race. I gave him no possibility to overrun, but he was very close all the time. If I had made a mistake, he would have passed me at once. But I didn't, I was just doing my job."
Oleksandr Gaidai finished on the sixth position. And this is his personal record as for the number of qualification points in Monza.
O. Gaidai: "It was very difficult. Porsche Carrera Cup Italia level increased significantly. We have to thank the organizers, because now the race is much more interesting. And much more difficult.
On the first lap, in the first turn, I jumped on the kerb and damaged the front bumper a lot, and it was hard to control the car. I wanted to be in top-5, but I finished on the sixth position. But I have to see what is damaged in the car. Maybe, it's not a bad result. Besides, it's my personal record as for the amount of points gained in Monza. And the benefit is that I start from the pole position tomorrow. There will be a lot to see tomorrow!"
But it revealed that we have something to see and to hear even before tomorrow. And we can't tell that those were pleasant things. On the race director's opinion, Come Ledogar derived a benefit from his cutoff in the first chicane and specially broke really late (according to what? according to the race director's personal opinion?) to cut the turn. That's why he got a 1 second of penalization and lost his victory. Riccardo Agostini was awarded with the gold, and Ledogar became the silver medalist.
Porsche Carrera Cup Italia 2015, round 1, Monza
Race 1 (overall)
1. AGOSTINI Riccardo (Antonelli Motorsport) 16 laps
2. LEDOGAR Come (Tsunami RT) +0.559 (1"penalty)
3. GIRAUDI Gianluca (Antonelli Motorsport) +8.626
...6. GAIDAI Oleksandr (Tsunami RT) +31.822
...18. WALTER BEN (LEM Racing) +1'39.922
This, so to say, nonroutine decision put Come Ledogar on the fifth starting position on Sunday. And one more Porsche with the Ukrainian flag on the roof started from the pole – Oleksandr Gaidai was leading the peloton.
The driver from Odessa started perfectly and got the possibility not to participate the traditional jam in Rettifiglio. Pietro Negra and Gianluca Giraudi were there this time, and the others snatched the positions up as they could. Come Ledogar decided that he was more satisfied with the second position than with the fifth one. Also Riccardo Agostini pretended it, so this duet was busy with their internal "gangbangs" without paying attention on such details as another participants.
On the second lap Oleksandr Gaidai lost a splitter, and the peloton leader started to lose pace slowly but unequivocally. Having made a mistake in one of the turns, Gaidai cut it off. He was a leader and overran nobody, but the race director didn't exhaust his stock of... unconventional decisions. Gaidai received an order over the radio... to give the two positions!
He gave way to the gruesome-twosome of Ledogar and Agostini and was ahead of the same crowded and energetic company of participants with rather equal pace. And he could hold the third position...
But Stefano Colombo made a mistake when braking... and came directly into Gaidai's Porsche having pushed him hardly to the cutoff. After that Stefano decided that it was enough for him and drove to demonstrate his blown out tire to mechanics. And Gaidai continued the race with the hole in bumper.
Riccardo Agostini who had been waiting for the mistake of Come Ledogar was rewarded and didn't lose his chance. He became the leader. From that moment it was Come to tailgate on his bumper. The live cameras were resting on the duet, and Riccardo... cut the turn within the sight of the viewers! He was the leader of the race and didn't win any position. So, the yesterday story in inversed manner! Would Agostini be penalized, and would one second be enough to deprive the Italian driver of his victory, as it was with Come Ledogar the day before?
Meanwhile, the German Hans Koller managed to make a turn acknowledged as the most spectacular of all the weekend turns. It ended in the gravel bay and the safety car entered the track.
Two laps with the safety car and all the expanded peloton was gathered. And as the race restarted...
O. Gaidai: "When the safety car left the track, Alberto De Amicis pushed me into the rear part of the car in the last turn when my car had been already turned in its direction, and poked me out of the track. There is artificial grass there, it's very slippery, and the car doesn't accelerate after pushing the pedal. I was passed by De Amicis and Mattia Drudi who was following the former. Just after that Fulgenzi started to attack. He was accelerating wheel-to-wheel with me, and I didn't push him off the track, it would be dangerous for him..."
In the last turn Oleksandr Gaidai on his broken car was overrun by Zhang Da Sheng. The result is the seventh position. And the silver medal for Come Ledogar...
But, again, it wasn't the end of the story. Riccardo Agostini was still penalized by one second, and the victory passed to Come Ledogar. It seemed that the score was 1:1, if not to take into account that Come was deprived of 20 points (for his victory in the first race) and restored of 15 (for his victory in the second one).
But the Antonelli Motorsport team submitted an appeal concerning the stewards' decision. So the results of the race are block till the end of the Review Board investigation...
It is considered that the rules are equal for all participants.
But Alberto de Amicis wasn't penalized for pushing and overrunning of Gaidai...
O. Gaidai: "I have a feeling that the same situations on the Italian Championship are judged in a different way for Italians and for foreigners. Today I've lost the first position because I was just pushed out of the track. I could have held the position even with the damaged car, because the group of drivers behind me were busy with their own competition. I don't exculpate myself for the damaged bumper on the first cutoff, but later there were another drivers to damage it. Today I've had many situations the race director turned a blind eye to, and I think that I was just deprived of my third place without the penalization of the Italian participant for the violation of the rules."
Porsche Carrera Cup Italia 2015, round 1, Monza
Race 2 (overall)
*** PCCI 2015 Race 2 @ Monza result is under judgement
1. LEDOGAR Come (Tsunami RT) 15 laps
2. AGOSTINI Riccardo (Antonelli Motorsport) +0.357
3. FULGENZI Enrico (Heaven Motorsport) +4.345
...7. GAIDAI Oleksandr (Tsunami RT) +7.319
...16. KOLLER Hans-Peter (TAM-Racing) +5 laps
The second round of Porsche Carrera Cup Italy ends with not a full stop, but with a question mark. Or rather with the following combination: ??!..
Anyway, it's just the beginning of the season. It's rather uncommon, but still the beginning. It means that there are many races waiting for us. And certainly many surprises.
We hope they be pleasant ones...