By: Irina Boyarskaya
Photo: Akis Temperidis
There are such races the plot of which is unhurried and unattractive at first. But if you had patience to reach at least the middle of it, the race rewards you with such a firework of events, dynamics and intrigue that it becomes really impossible to tear away from it, and the pleasant aftertaste will last for long.
We can characterize Vallelunga-2015 in such a manner.
The first qualification segment was suspiciously short, bit it was revealed soon that it was not the end, but an intermission: Stefano Colombo hit the marbles due to a problem with brakes and broke his car.
Côme Ledogar was only the forth in the first segment but everybody were fine with that: it was enough to enter top-8, and the positions on the starting grid would be distributed in the second segment. And Oleksandr Gaidai unfortunately did not manage to enter top-8:
"Before the qualification I knew that it wouldn't be simple for me because it's very difficult for me to drive on this circuit. The start of the qualification was normal until Côme and me overtook Angelo Proietti. Firstly Côme hardly overtook him, and than it was me to bump up against him. I impaired two laps on the first tire kit because I was following him. And the situation repeated with the other tire kit but with another driver.
I had a feeling that my usual way of driving didn't work on that track. I had to change my strategy, because the old one didn't work. Maybe I must change something in my head every time I come here."
We will certainly tell you if Oleksandr managed to change his driving style. And yet 8 pilots started for the second qualification segment... On the penultimate lap Côme overtook Riccardo Agostini, the team applauded... But on the last lap Agostini increased the pace as if he had only been idling before... and won the first two points of the weekend for the pole position. Côme Ledogar is the second:
"The second starting position is not the best on this track because the left turn is very flat, hardly noticeable, and the first one where one has to reduce the speed is right. I need just to have a good start, and than we'll see."
Italy, September 12. The sun was burning, the viewers were puffing, cheerful and extensive announcer was telling something hard to understand but life-asserting, numerous dogs of the viewers were 'parked' in the shade of the cars accompanied by the meditating neat ladies and gentlemen in half-dressed (or half-undressed?) racing overalls, mechanics were carefully closing the windscreen with the silvery cover that reflected the sun... The time felt to be so long, it froze to catch up with those lazy minutes taking the mad pace during the race.
Côme Ledogar rushed to attack Riccardo Agostini within the first seconds of the race. Enrico Fulgenzi overtook Mattea Drudi, Aku Pellinen overtook Gianluca Giraudi. Andrea Fontana won back five (!) positions at a time. Stefano Colombo didn't appear on the start, but Antonelli Motorsport took a new driver, Matteo Desideri, and it was him to be overrun by Oleksandr Gaidai.
16-year-old Mattia Drudi tailed Fulgenzi and overtook him spectacularly. He was followed by the strongly scrapped group of Pellinen-Fontana-Giraudi. In some time Fontana rushed forward, and the Finnish driver had to defend from Gianluca: it was a good experience! Andrea Fontana left them and made all the efforts to attack the forth position of Fulgenzi. We have to say that his efforts were not successful even if it increased the spectacularity of the race.
Oleksandr Gaidai was competing with his rivals trying to find his driving style for Vallelunga at the beginning of the second tenner. And the duet leading the peloton well known to all the PCCI viewers was slowly but unequivocally disjoining in the front man Agostini and the second – Ledogar this time. Riccardo was apparently faster that day, he managed to gain a noticeable gap with Côme for the first time in the season. Moreover, Mattia Drudi was approaching Ledogar step by step, and the former's following actions, even if they animated the competition but burn some millions of Tsunami RT fans' nerve cells: of course, the PCCF defending champion is experienced enough to make the young Italian stay behind, but he also wanted the race to finish.
And it finally finished. The result is not that disastrous for the team but not successful at all for our level: the second place of Côme and the 12th, beyond the point zone, of Oleksandr Gaidai.
O. Gaidai: "It's a bad result, the first race of the season when I hadn't got even a point. I think I must change something cardinally in myself. Apply another driving style, find a faster trajectory..."
C. Ledogar: "I was doing my best and it was difficult. But motor sports is not so simple in general. I have to work, tomorrow is another race!"
Porsche Carrera Cup Italia 2015, round 5, Vallelunga
1. AGOSTINI Riccardo (Antonelli Motorsport) 19 laps
2. LEDOGAR Côme (Tsunami RT) +3.035
3. DRUDI Mattia (Dinamic Motorsport) +3.391
...12. GAIDAI Oleksandr (Tsunami RT) +43.011
...18. PROETTI Angelo (Antonelli Motorsport) +5 laps
...Many women say that men change as the years go by, but only a few are lucky enough to see this change within one day. The Sunday race differed from the Saturday one as a haute cuisine dish from a lunch on board a plane (you may dawn upon the place I am writing this article from this sentence).
So, here is the starting grid, and the first six drivers lined in the reverse order – Côme Ledogar on the fifth position with Enrico Fulgenzi in front of him. Oleksandr Gaidai is on the 12th starting position. The weather is perfect – not hot, a little bit cloudy but not dark and with no rain in the forecast.
5 seconds, signal light, start – and everybody started but Fulgenzi stayed. It happened with such a lightning speed that the question arose only afterwards: how did Côme manage to overtake him?!
C. Ledogar: "I saw that his engine faded and was ready to turn immediately. It wasn't so simple so I had so and so start, but I recouped on the first lap."
Tsunami RT fans following the online results desperately needed a walleye for that race to see both drivers. They were doing something incredible on the track! Côme overtook Agostini, Fontana, Pellinen. At the same time Gaidai left Amicis, Kasai, De Giacomi, Zhang, Giraudi behind and was the fifth, not twelfth already!..
Ledogar's target was the leading Drudi, and at the same time the former's goal was to defend from Agostini got over himself. But at that moment Agostini pushed Ledogar's car! The damage on the Italian driver's Porsche forced him to drive off the track, and Côme... continued the race! Drudi took advantage of the story and managed to create a comfortable gap targeting to his first victory in the PCCI round. Côme overtook Andrea Fontana and made the same gap to make him lose any hope for the silver medal.
Meanwhile the united company of Pellinen-Gaidai-Giraudi was following the tor-3 mentioned above. Oleksandr tried to attack the Finnish driver and counter threats of Gianluca. None of the three gave the other even a minute of break that would be enough for reshuffle. Gaidai than said that only Giraudi was able to compete so clearly and safely avoiding contact.
The following three lines were given to Zhang, De Giacomi, De Amicis. The same story, the same spectacularity, but the cars shuffling from time to time. The broadcasting director was literally torn between various cameras demonstrating equally interesting videos.
And not far from the finish Gaidai's Porsche started to rotate and stayed on the gravel...
...Shortly before Oleksandr Gaidai heard the metallic knocking under the car and after that he pushed the brake pedal... and it fell into the floor. He had no brakes.
A piece of a detail turned away after the collision somewhere ahead broke the bumper, broke through the rear aluminum part of the mudguard and damaged the brake hose union. Hydraulic brake fluid leaked and he lost the brakes.
O. Gaidai: "I put the car into rotation intentionally not to reach the wall as Stefano Colombo yesterday. I had seen that yesterday and could suppose what I would have done, but I couldn't even think that it expected me today, and I would have to apply my theoretical knowledge. But it worked."
Gianluca Giraudi made the same rotation trick in a couple of minutes. Leaders were already finishing and the race seemed to come to an end... You wish! Zhang Da Sheng severely collided with Alberto De Amicis on the last lap and both went off the track. And the fly-off of Walter Ben was the finishing stroke. It was a great action, anyway!..
C. Ledogar: "The competition was very intense, but if you want to be a champion you need not only speed but also brain. I did my best to avoid the collision with Agostini, but he stroke me twice. I could drive the car to the finish, but Mattia Drudi formed such a gap during our collision that it was impossible to reach him. So I've got a silver medal again. And we take strong experience from Vallelunga."
O. Gaidai: "I had nothing to lose today. The 12th starting position is far from the point zone. I had a very good start, I overran a couple of competitors just after the start and two more cars within the next two laps – Zhang Da Sheng and Gianluca Giraudi, and got the fifth position. Than the race wasn't simple: from one side, I had to defend from Gianluca, from the other – try to overtake Aku Pellinen. Irina helped me a lot motivating to look in front of me and concentrate on the 4th position, not to defend the 5th.
It was my best race in Vallelunga considering all the years of my experience here. And it also was my first race with the left leg brake when I was driving well. And I think it was the best lap in my career."
Porsche Carrera Cup Italia 2015, round 5, Vallelunga
1. DRUDI Mattia (Dinamic Motorsport) 18 laps
2. LEDOGAR Côme (Tsunami RT) +7.565
3. FONTANA Andrea (Ghinzani Arc) +19.322
...15. GAIDAI Oleksandr (Tsunami RT) +4 laps
By the way, we understood already in the boxes having seen the damage of the rear bumper of the Ledogar's car that if the contact had been a little bit stronger, the recurved bumper would have torn the left rear wheel, and we had no chance to finish. It's not a luck, it's a rational estimation of the driver who managed to save the car from the slam and reached the prizing podium.
Both Côme and Oleksandr were very good and it was a real pleasure for our fans to watch the race.
And then... Then the service park began to become empty and it was so sad as to undo the New Year tree. The weather in Vallelunga was grumbling as an old cleaning lady with a duster: "And I should wash after all of you!" showering the paddock with rain... The weekend came to its end.
And the Tsunami RT team members said goodbye to each other only for two weeks. See you in Misano, on the sixth Porsche Carrera Cup Italia round. We'll have to miss the PCCF round in Navarre of the same dates, but we hope you agree that the Italian series is very interesting this year!
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