We left to the Spa race with very positive energy. Don't think that we go to other races without pleasure, taking into account that Tsunami RT is translated as the "essence of positive" from Odesa language, but the gold we had recently won in Imola was keeping warm not only the team at large, but also Alessio Rovera who was to defend the colors of out team in Porsche Carrera Cup France.
Of course, both competitors and fans were waiting for Rovera's participation in the French Cup impatiently. It was not only about the title of the reigning champion of the Italian Porsche series, but also about the unforgettable performance of Alessio in Spa last year.
Here we are in Belgium. Rovera earned the first qualification point even before the start having won the pole position among the PCCF participants. As there were also Benelux Cup racers in the peloton, Alessio got the first row in the classification – the second position on the starting grid. We are talking about the Saturday race, and on Friday Rovera was to start from the third position in the overall classification.
This Friday start was totally unforgettable! Rovera overruns two competitors at a time in the very first turn and becomes the leader. Both Julien Andlauer and Ayhancan Guven left behind have no intention to let him go. Within the first half of the race they are trying to trade their position for the leader's one in every way, but Rovera likes being the leader a lot, so he remains completely impersuadable.
As in the most season-opening races, the safety car came into the picture: the drivers who have been missing their favorite job in the midseason sometimes let the adrenaline pour over the top, and then they had to think about their behavior waiting for the towing from a gravel trap.
The peloton is ceremoniously parading behind the safety car within the next eight minutes and does not forget to draw sine waves for not to let tires cool down. It looks very funny, as if inpatient children were hanging out of the line to one side or another to rubberneck what is happening ahead. Meanwhile, the other machines work on the track: Didier Van Dalen's car dug in the gravel is being returned to the track with a crane. He gaily rushes to chase the others shaking down as a dog after swimming and abundantly showering the track with the gravel flying around and above.
Five minutes left to the finish, and we have a restart! Here such a tough, spectacular and exciting fight for each position begins, so the live broadcasting directors don't know which camera to switch to: whoever you watch, it is impossible to tear off eyes of him or her! All the road width, kerbs, grass and, not infrequently, a competitor's car happening to be on the trajectory are used for maneuvers.
Our attention, of course, is locked on the car with the Ukrainian flag on the roof. Alessio Rovera is brilliantly countering Andlauer's threats, and the latter, in his turn, has to cover from Guven. We will know how complicated it was for our driver only after the finish: he collected on the right wheel some rubbish spilled on the track, and it became very complicated to enter left turns. Don't forget about the fact that a substantial part of the track was still lavishly covered with gravel and slippery!..
Despite all the difficulties, Alessio Rovera passes the first under the checkered flag! The start of the season brought us the victory in the overall classification of the race! Plus we got a point for the best lap! That's the race!
Porsche Carrera Cup Italia 2018. Round 1. Spa-Francorchamps.
1. Alessio Rovera (Tsunami RT) 10 laps
2. Julien Andlauer (Team Martinet by Alméras) +1.210
3. Ayhancan Guven (Attempto Racing) +1.456
32. Edward Grouwels (RaceArt) +2 laps
Alessio Rovera: "It was a very good race but difficult. I did a start like I had never had in my career. It was a great start of the season. For tomorrow I would really like to repeat this".
However, we will remember the race of tomorrow as one of the strangest, and certainly the shortest races.
Start, first turn, and at this moment Julien Andlauer and Valentin Hasse-Clot overrun both Rovera and the pole position holder, Xavier Maassen, with an instantaneous motion. Alessio loses two positions, but these are the first seconds, there is a half-an-hour race ahead, he has time to fix everything...
A great lot of events is compressed within the next few seconds: some cars fly off on the gravel, another one that has started at the end of the peloton has no time to reach even the beginning of the starting grid and finishes into the fence. The safety car appears, of course.
Nobody expected that the safety car would remain on the track for almost all the race! Come to think of it, the restart remained doubtful up to the last minutes. Ultimately, the stewards decide to launch the peloton in the racing mode... But only five minutes left to the finish.
The track in Spa is very long, 7 kilometers. It means that the whole race took only two laps. However, this time was enough for Rovera to overrun Maassen. While Alessio was competing for the third position, Andlauer and Hasse-Clot got two more seconds of gap. Rovera manages to catch up with these seconds and begins to attack Andlauer, but the race time is up. Finish?..
Not at all! There is no checkered flag, and the cars proceed to the next lap without slowing down. However, the timing is completed!.. After the race the organizers, puzzled with such a blunder, make a decision to count the results based upon the penultimate lap. So, Alessio Rovera rises on the bronze podium!
Porsche Carrera Cup Italia 2018. Round 1. Spa-Francorchamps.
1. Valentin Hasse-Clot (Sébastien Loeb Racing) 9 laps
2. Julien Andlauer (Team Martinet by Alméras) +0.185
3. Alessio Rovera (Tsunami RT) +0.523
31. Bas Barenburg (RaceArt) +2:04.289
Alessio Rovera (very disappointed by the race consecution): "This is not a race, it was only 2 laps. I pushed as I could in the last lap to overtake to second".
Of course, it is bitter when you came to Belgium and had no possibility to drive at your pace! However, the results speak for themselves: Alessio Rovera leaves Spa as the Porsche Carrera Cup France overall classification leader, and Tsunami RT adds two beautiful cups to its collection!
This week we line up on the start on Paul Ricard circuit where we will compete with the Italian Porsche Cup participants this time. We can only dream on some rest...
By: Irina Boyarskaya
Photo: Akis Temperidis and Porsche - Alexis Goure