August 18-19, 2012, Smolensk
Last weekend saw the sixth stage of the Lada Granta Cup at the Smolensk Ring circuit within the Russian Racing Championship weekend. A dozen teams on identical 240-strong turbocharged Grantas put up an exciting racing show that turned to a real thriller on the track wet from the rain. Nevertheless, the two races ended with fair results and the prizes went to the most skilled and experienced.
The Saturday race surprise was the pole start of a young Spanish racer Paul Rossel Costa (Russian Bears), who celebrated his 21st birthday by winning the qualification. For the Spanish carting champion invited as a co-driver into Mikhail Maleev’s team it was the first experience of driving a Lada Granta, but he proved to be surprisingly fast and skilled.
The Barcelona racer managed to maintain the lead until the mandatory pit stop, fighting off the attacks of his pursuers - Vladimir Sheshenin (Almaks Major), Viktor Antonov (Arloid Racing), Mikhail Mityayev (Sberbank-Plastic) and Boris Shulmeister (Aeroexpress).
As it is often with teh Lada Granta Cup races, positioning of the leaders changed dramatically after the mandatory pit stops. Maleev, who replaced Rossel behind the wheel, flew off the track. Albert Iliazov, Sheshenin’s co-driver, veered round on the track. As a result, Alexey Dudukalo (AutoVAZ-PROO) moved up to the first position overtaking all the rivals ahead of him.
The racing WTCC driver replaced injured Pavel Kalmanovich in this stage, as Alexandrа Kobenko’s co-driver, and immediately brought the AutoVAZ-PROO team the first victory in the season 2012.
The results of the first race of the 6th stage of the Lada Granta Cup 2012 in Smolensk:
- Kobenko/Dudukalo (AutoVAZ-PROO) 53:20.206
- Antonov/Shalunov (Arloid Racing) +2.071
- Shulmeister/Akiniyazov (Aeroexpress) +3.860
- Simonov/Bragin (Sberbank-Plastic) +5.490
- Mityayev/Sitnov (Sberbank) +30.450
- Nikolaev/Ladygin (Russian Bears) +46.929
- Granatovich (Autocom-AFSO) +1:02.084
- Nagaytsev/Karasevich (NAMI) +1:07.411
- Iliazov/Sheshenin (Almaks Major) +1:37.894
Three teams never made it to the finish in the Saturday race.
Alexey Dudukalo overtook the pole man Vladimir Nikolaev right after the start in the Sunday race. However, Dmitry Bragin from Tolyatti did not let the Moscow driver keep the lead for a long time. He got ahead of the World Touring representative already on the first lap and managed to gain a significant lead from the competitors.
Bragin who replaced Maxim Simonov after the pit stop was able to keep the position acquired by his co-driver and came first. At the finish Mikhail Loboda (Aeroexpress) got very close to the winner, and took the second place eventually, which allowed the Moscow team to remain first in the Lada Granta Cup team event.
It must be noted that Loboda brothers’ team did not reach the finish in the first race – Mikhail’s car was sent off the track by Viktor Antonov in the first part of the circuit. In the second race the teams seemed to swap their roles – Loboda brothers came in second and the team Antonov/Shalunov exited the race.
Vladimir Sheshenin was the third to cross the finish line after several impressive overtakings on the fial laps. Unfortunately, at the end of the race, the Tolyatti racer received a 30-second penalty for an untimely exit from the pit lane and he and his co-driver lost the prize on the podium.
The results of the second race of the 6th stage of the Lada Granta Cup 2012 in Smolensk:
- Simonov/Bragin (Sberbank-Plastic) 52:02.825
- М.Loboda/Y.Loboda (Aeroexpress) +2.257
- Nikolaev/Ladygin (Russian Bears) +29.482
- Shulmeister/Akiniyazov (Aeroexpress) +29.813
- Kobenko/Dudukalo (AutoVAZ-PROO) +53.364
- Mityayev/Sitnov (Sberbank) +54.017
- Nagaytsev/Karasevich (NAMI) +1:08.444
- Iliazov/Sheshenin (Almaks Major) +1:25.803
- Degtyarev/Chaban (RT-Trans) +1 lap
Three cars never reached the finish line.
The Lada Granta Cup 2012 classification after the five scoring stages:
- M.Loboda/Y.Loboda (Aeroexpress) 138 points each
- Simonov/Bragin (Sberbank-Plastic) 124 each
- Antonov/Shalunov (Arloid Racing) 84 each
- Vladimir Nikolaev (Russian Bears) 83
- Iliazov/Sheshenin (Almaks Major) 82
- Alexandr Kobenko (AutoVAZ-PROO) 82
- Rustam Akiniyazov (Aeroexpress) 81
- Mikhail Maleev (Russian Bears) 73
- Boris Schulmeister (Aeroexpress) 65 ...
The seventh stage of the LADA Granta Cup will also take place within the RRC 2012 weekend on September 15-16 at the NRING circuit in Nizhniy Novgorod.