At the end of 2008 season Tsunami RT team phased out the program of participation in the Ukrainian Rally Championship and definitively switched to the Russian competition. At this the Odesa team completely preserved its first team that consisted of three crews – Aleksandr Zheludov and Irina Kolomeitseva, Igor Storchak and Andrei Nikolaev, Ruslan Kucher and Natalia Franchuk.


New projects required substantial changes in the park of the Ukrainian team. If Zheludov stayed with his usual Subaru Impreza WRX STI N12, Storchak and Kucher changed Lada 112 Kit Car to more discreet option – N-group Ford Fiesta ST and Citroen Saxo VTS. Thus, Tsunami RT had to compete for the highest places on the Russian Championship in four classifications simultaneously – team, absolute (Zheludov), R2 (Storchak) and R1 (Kucher) classes.



But there was no serious fight for the title in absolute classification – the Swedish pilot, Patrick Flodin appeared in the Russian Championship that overplayed the home team and spoiled the game. Anyway, Patrick won four stages consequently from the start of the season and clinched the title of the Champion of Russia in the absolute classification, and then skipped two remaining rounds.


As the result of it, Tsunami RT tasks changed a little – fight for the second place in the absolute classification (Aleksandr Zheludov vs Andrei Zhigunov) and also for the highest titles in other classifications (team classification, R1 and R2 classes). However, in the midst of it there was an attempt to impose the fight to the invincible Flodin – Zheludov and Kolomeitseva crew changed their car to more high-class one, Peugeot 207 S2000 from Munaretto Group, before the third stage (Russia Rally in Vyborg).


The first showdown took place in June on Rally di San Marino, one of the most interesting gravel races in Italy. There weren't any significant tournament tasks – the crew had to familiarize with the new rally car that essentially differed from the previous one of N4 class. The main goal was achieved – the Russian-Ukrainian duet got over the whole rally distance improving the results step-by-step at any subsequent pass of the track (the route consisted of the three passes of one section).



Appearance in Vyborg on Peugeot 207 S2000 was ambiguous. From one hand, the pilots didn't manage to choose optimum pace that caused noticeable losses of time on the start of the race. From the other hand, in course or the rally Zheludov managed to impose the fight to Flodin and became a leader in the Russian classification at one point. But a full stop in the duel was made by a technical failure – oil pump failure three additional legs to the finish caused the immediate breakdown of the powerful high-power engine (of about 280 HP with 2 liters of volume without turbo). Offending fall-out in rather successful race...


Return in Subaru Impreza WRX STI N12 changed nothing – the main competitor in the fight for the title of vice-champion, Andrei Zhigunov, was faster in two next races again. So, the three prize winners in the absolute classification were defined one stage before the finish. Patrick Flodin became the champion, Andrei Zhigunov took the second place and Aleksandr Zheludov with Irina Kolomeitseva provided themselves with the third place.


Though Tsunami RT was represented in three different categories at a time in the team classification (absolute, R1 and R2 classes) that led to the required result – the Ukrainian team won three rounds (in Peno, Lahdenpohja and Gukovo) and anticipatorily became the Champion of Russia, one stage before the finish. So, Tsunami RT demonstrated that balanced and flexible team brings success in the team classification notwithstanding the other defeats for the second consecutive year (firstly in Ukraine, then in Russia).



The team used the long interval (more than 45 days) before the final stage in Novorossiysk for a new study performance on Super 2000 car. This time Aleksandr Zheludov and Irina Kolomeitseva started on Skoda Fabia S2000 on Sardinia, where Rally Costa Smeralda Sardegna took place, and had noticeable success having finished with the ninth result in the absolute classification on the unknown track and a new car! Thirty crews started in N4 class, including 11 participants on S2000 cars.


The rally season was finished in the middle of October with Novorossiysk rally where Tsunami RT crews had several serious tasks. Firstly, Igor Storchak's and Ruslan Kucher's crews were the main applicants for the titles of champions in R2 and R1 classes. Secondly, Irina Kolomeitseva had the possibility to rise to the second place in co-drivers' classification in case of success in Novorossiysk.


It is interesting that the season took completely different shape for Igor Storchak and Ruslan Kucher – two crews seemed to move in the opposite directions. Kucher began the season successfully (victory and two third places in R1 class), whereafter a train of misfortunes started – two fall-outs due to technical problems. Storchak had completely different story – leapfrog with co-drivers (four different co-drivers in six starts – Andrei Volkovishskii, Andrei Nikolaev, Marina Danilova and Evgenii Kalachev!), two fall-outs in the first half of the season, lost victory in R2 class of South Ural Rally because of enormous 14-minute penalty... Everything had to be decided in Novorossiysk – and the race demonstrated its character almost at once with a range of misfortunes.


The first incident laid the team wait on shakedown, when Igor Storchak had the serious accident – damage of a brake disk caused the speedy somersault of Ford Fiesta ST from the track. Fortunately, the car wasn't significantly damaged and the mechanics managed to adjust the car quickly and the crew of Igor Storchak and Evgenii Kalachev could be on the start of the rally.


The crew of Zheludov and Kolomeitseva had an advantage on the start and they win in three additional legs of four and leaded with the gap of more than ten seconds from the Italian pilot Marco Tempestini on Peugeot 207 S2000 (Novorossiysk Rally was also the stage of Eastern Europe Cup). But Subaru Impreza WRX STI N12 engine failed on SU5 – the second fall-out due to engine in the season... But the main misfortune expected in the future – on the penultimate special section the crew of Ruslan Kucher and Natalia Franchuk, leader of the category, had the serious accident. The consequences were the worst – the pilot had back injury, the crew lost the chance to obtain the title and finished the season on the third position in R1 class.



The final period in such a multivarious and ambiguous season was put by Igor Storchak, who managed to win for the second time consecutively in R2 class, overran his competitors on final straight and became the Champion of Russia! At that Storchak had the same number of points as Evgenii Rogov (62) but was in advance of the Russian pilot in the additional feature – the Ukrainian pilot had two victories on his account compared to one of the competitor. So, Tsunami RT finished the season on podium in all the classifications where it was announced – the victories in the team classification and in R2 class, third places in the absolute classification and R1 class.