By: Irina Boyarskaya
Photo: Akis Temperidis
Porsche Carrera Cup France final on Paul Ricard autodrome posed a question for our team: if Oleksandr Gaidai who missed three of 12 races of the season (for the Italian series) is able to win bronze in the Division B.
We complicated the plot as well as we could. To begin with the fact that Gaidai started the qualification having missed the free practices for the first time in the season. And he also arrived on the qualification just from the airport! Also the race organizers did their bit having modified the track configuration: they made a chicane on the straight line and put high hard cones in the exits of the turns. It was Gaidai's turn to make a next step, and it was not long in coming having broken the rear bumper on the very first qualification lap. The outside appearance of the car seemed to become even more eye-catching, but the aerodynamics changed not for the better.
And while the competitors were trying to establish the best lap and took the positions on the starting grid, Oleksandr with the engineer Anja Gölz were choosing the settings thinking about the tactics for the start of tomorrow: it was clear that he had to start the race from the last row.
The same Saturday when Formula 1 drivers were desperately expecting the end of the storm on the Circuit de Americas it was sunny and warm on Paul Ricard autodrome. But it was very hot on the track: there was the fight for the victory in the season!
The pole position holder Mathieu Jaminet distinguished himself on the start: his car faded, and he started having given the way to all the peloton. Undoubtedly, it added the hopes for the titles to Maxime Jousse who hadn't been very successful in the qualification, and Jaminet was his main competitor before the start of the final weekend.
Oleksandr Gaidai didn't postpone the competition for the later time: he coolly became the Division B leader already on the first lap.
All the following race became the benefit performance of Mathieu Jaminet who managed to escape from the track in five minutes after the start, turn back on it, start to attack and finish on the fourth (!) position.
Steven Palette, the third aspirant for the champion's title, won the first race. Maxime Jousse was only the seventh: it meant the interesting race tomorrow.
Oleksandr Gaidai again – and it's not only "again", it's the fifth time of the five starts on the track! – raises on the upper step of the Division B podium!
O. Gaidai: "In general, everything was usual. Without any experience on the track this year, without free practices, passing the qualification with the broken bumper, I felt myself a little bit uncomfortable before start, but the race dotted all the "i"s. I became the leader of the Division B from the very first lap and gave way only to Mathieu Jaminet: he was fighting for the victory in the absolute classification, I din't want to keep him behind and gave him way intentionally.
I wasn't tired at all. It was the easiest race for me in the season. But I enjoy driving and the fact that I can drive quickly keeping my usual pace".
Porsche Carrera Cup France 2015, round 7, Paul Ricard
Race 1 (overall)
1. PALETTE Steven (Martinet by Almeras) 23 laps
2. BELTOISE Vincent (Saintéloc) +3.081
3. PLA Jim (Racing Technology) +4.142
...10. GAIDAI Oleksandr (Tsunami RT) +28.082
...13. LAPIERRE Christophe (Sébastien Loeb Racing) +1 lap
Race 1 (Division B)
1. GAIDAI Oleksandr (Tsunami RT) 23 laps
2. LINDLAND Roar (Sébastien Loeb Racing) +2.189
3. PERFETTI Egidio (Martinet Team Pro GT) +16.542
4. LAPIERRE Christophe (Sébastien Loeb Racing) +1 lap
The Sunday race, the last one in PCCF season, was more intense and pleased us with the interesting fight in both divisions. We should mention the correctness of this fight – we wanted to comment every overrun as follows:
- Let me bother you, my dear colleague. Would you be so kind as to move a little bit from the trajectory? How kind of you! Thanks a million! Best regards!
In brief, the French gallantry could be compared favorably with the Italian expression, at least if speaking about overruns. By the way, let's discuss the overruns in more detail.
Oleksandr Gaidai's competitors in Division B got breath after his breakthrough of yesterday and offered the fair battle. At first Oleksandr pressed Egidio Perfetti a little, and, when the competitor made a mistake and broke the rear bumper, he overran him. Gaidai quickly overtook Roar Lindland, but he had a problem with the Norwegian driver: the latter had no intention to concede silver in the final race.
Let our driver find a gap in the defense of Lindland and let us move a little bit forward: there was a spectacular fight for the sixth position possessed by Nicolas Marroc at the moment, tailgated by Jules Gounon. The latter, in his turn, was followed by Maxime Jousse in desperate need of the qualification points: there was less and less time to remedy the situation, and Mathieu Jaminet had already overrun Steven Palette and became the leader of the peloton.
Meanwhile Gaidai and Lindland approached the pair of Cugnot-Lapierre, and while the Norwegian driver was trying to tailgate the two competitors in front of him, he got the third one: Oleksandr Gaidai overran Lindland and got the second position in Division B. There was a reshuffle among Marroc-Gounon-Jousse at last: Nicolas Marroc's mistakes were more and more often, he was overbraking, and his two competitors overran him. Marroc was so sad that he kept loosing positions.
To the end of the race Oleksandr Gaidai managed to overrun Alexandre Cugnot and the ill-fated Marroc. It was the only one position to Christophe Lapierre (there were nine at the beginning of the race: Lapierre started from the fifth position, and Gaidai - from the 14th). But the race finished together with the PCCF season.
Porsche Carrera Cup France 2015, round 7, Paul Ricard
Race 2 (overall)
1. JAMINET Mathieu (Racing Technology) 17 laps
2. PALETTE Steven (Martinet by Almeras) 17 laps
3. BELTOISE Vincent (Saintéloc) +3.081
...9. GAIDAI Oleksandr (Tsunami RT) +26.070
...12. MARROC Nicolas (Martinet Team Pro GT) +27.913
Race 2 (Division B)
1. LAPIERRE Christophe (Sébastien Loeb Racing) 17 laps
2. GAIDAI Oleksandr (Tsunami RT) +5.267
3. LINDLAND Roar (Sébastien Loeb Racing)+6.277
The sixth place was enough for Maxime Jousse to grind out a victory in the absolute classification according to the results of the season. Christophe Lapierre predictably celebrated the Champion's title in Division B. Oleksandr Gaidai who had won the silver in the final race became the bronze prize-winner in the Division B of the season-2015.
O. Gaidai: "It was a tense and difficult season, and also an informative one, with the implementation of the new elements in my driving. If I looked back on the second part of the season I intentionally sacrificed to change my style of driving, I would like to say that the things I can do well already, are another shoe to drop. There will be a very interesting championship the next year, four races outside France, a lot of competitors, and there will be a spectacular fight."
And the conclusive applauses (don't you know why there was no champagne for the winners on the podium in France?) ends with the midseason. But don't grieve, don't be tragic: any midseason ends with exciting and spectacular races. We've checked it many times!