13,650 meters of racing track. The races have been taking place here for 94 years. This name is known even by the people far from the motor sports on a par with the words of "Formula 1" and "Dakar".
It is Le Mans.
For several years Porsche Carrera Cup France participants have been racing on the small circuit of Le Mans Bugatti track (this round was won by the Tsunami RT driver Oleksandr Gaidai in 2015). Finally, more than 60 drivers on Porsches are welcomed by Sarthe – a legendary, mystical, inimitable track.
They have more than decent company – competitors in Benelux Challenge, well known by us, and Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain drivers were competing for the points besides the Porsche Carrera Cup France participants.
It should be noted that there was the first time on the Sarthe track for both Tsunami RT drivers, and they were totally filled with admiration. The weather was perfect, plus 30 degrees, the cars were ready and wanted to start – so, let us begin!
Florian Latorre won the qualification, and Alessio Rovera occupied the second row on the starting grid, on the fourth position. Thomas Nicolle got the 34th starting position. 45 minutes of drive and adventures were waiting for us. Le Mans started!
Rolling start, abrupt acceleration, and two cars flew on the gravel in the very first turn, and everything was covered with thick clouds of dust. In the theater these effects are used for the change of decorations, so here, when the dust cleared away, we saw a totally different picture.
Dino Zamparelli, the champion of Porsche Cup Britain, was the first. He was followed by Alessio Rovera. But the important thing was that the peloton was being led by the safety car. The race was long and we would have enough time for everything... While the participants were orderly following the safety car, we were watching the change of protagonists.
Florian Latorre dematerialized from the first position, and it was not the only collision during the change of scene. Peloton came up short of eight drivers even before the finish of the first race lap.
Only in 13 minutes, the tow trucks and the safety car left the track. At that very moment, Alessio Rovera started to attack Dino Zamparelli. Meanwhile, Thomas Nicolle reached the 22nd position (while he had started the 34th!).
Rovera overran the competitor and leaded the peloton! He was followed by Zamparelli, Dan Cammish – the double champion of Porsche Cup Britain, and by the Turkish driver Ayhancan Guven.
At the same time, so many events were happening on the 13-kilometer lap (it is Le Mans!), that one could dream to clone in at least a dozen viewers each of them to watch a certain group of drivers. As far as we had no copier at hand, we focused on the leaders.
On the 23rd minute of the race, Dan Cammish overran both Zamparelli and Rovera with a dynamic maneuver and reached the first position. Thomas Nicolle was the 20th.
In 25 minutes after the start, the top-10 summed it up in 4 seconds! It is Le Mans!
After flying off of two more drivers from the British classification the "80 regime" – overruns forbidden and the speed limit of 80 km/h – was implemented. It was time to take a breath.
The 33rd minute. Restart. Zamparelli, ready at hand, overran Guven who would not know what hit him, Rovera was pressing Cammish. The live cameras were mainly spotting the front part that was visually hiding the speed, but in fact, the average speed was 197 km/h! The average one! It is Le Mans!
The last lap – more than 13 kilometers – made the heart jump out of the chest, and the viewers – of the armchairs in front of the screens. It was something incredible! Cammish was skidded, but managed to turn back on track having kept Rovera on the second position. Alessio overran the British driver and became the leader! Cammish attacked and won the position back! Dino Zamparelli tried to overrun Rovera with a desperate dash, and at that moment the Tsunami RT driver landed a slippery coverage – there was either oil or simply water spoiled there – and let Dino overrun him!.. It was a breathtaking competition! It is Le Mans!
The checkered flag was already seen in front... And the three drivers passed it with the difference of less than a second: Cammish – Zamparelli – Rovera. The Tsunami RT driver came to the overall classification podium of the race in his first time on the legendary circuit having given the way only to the two British Cup leaders. Yes! Alessio Rovera became the best among Porsche Carrera Cup France drivers!
Alessio Rovera: «I'm very happy about the race. Of course I wanted to win but the 3rd place is very good. Also I want to thank the team because the car was very good from the beginning till the end so I think we did a great job.
At the end of the race my heart was really exploding! There was a lot of pressure from the guys behind me and I really wanted to win and that was very difficult. I didn't take any crazy risks, I was controlling the car and the situation. But I went on the oil or maybe water and couldn't keep Zamparelli behind.
But I had a lot of fun. Being on the podium is a special result, especially for the first time on this track».
Thomas Nicolle finished on the 17th position in the overall classification having won 17 (!) positions, and on the fourth position among the French Division B drivers.
Thomas Nicolle: «The race was very intense. It was very difficult to overcome but I managed to do that. I've been to Le Mans but only on Bugatti track, I drove BMW, it was raining heavily and I became second. And the long version of the circuit I like even more, it's more pleasure, more sensations. It's a mystic track! I did my best today and I'm happy!»
Porsche Carrera Cup France 2017, round 2, Le Mans
1. CAMMISH Dan (Redline Racing) 9 laps
2. ZAMPARELLI Dino (JTR) +0.605
3. ROVERA Alessio (Tsunami RT) +0.806
17. NICOLLE Thomas (Tsunami RT) +34.306
50. MCKAY Dan (Team Redline) +3 laps
Porsche Carrera Cup France 2017, round 2, Le Mans
1. ROVERA Alessio (Tsunami RT) 9 laps
2. AUHANCAN Guven (Toksport WRT) +0.836
3. DE NARDA Joffrey (Sébastien Loeb Racing) +4.236
10. NICOLLE Thomas (Tsunami RT) +33.500
16. BLANK Howard (RMS) +1'49.741
Porsche Carrera Cup France 2017, round 1, Le Mans
PCCF, Division B
1. LAPIERRE Christophe (Sébastien Loeb Racing) 9 laps
2. MISSLIN Nicolas (Martinet By Alméras) +5.071
3. LINDLAND Roar (Sébastien Loeb Racing) +9.857
4. NICOLLE Thomas (Tsunami RT) +18.559
8. BLANK Howard (RMS) +1'34.830
There are unforgettable days. These are the days the mind travels over with care and pleasure. That is what happened to this crazy, inimitable, faerie race...
Yes, it is Le Mans! And this is already a history! Summer goes on, the racing season continues. We are ready for new adventures!
Text: Irina Boyarskaya
Photo: Porsche - Alexis Goure