"NRing”, Nizhniy Novgorod
Today the first rainy race of the 2013 season was held at the NRing circuit. The Aeroexpress team Gryazin/Shulmeister won with confidence for the first time in this season, Nikolay Gryazin at the same time became the youngest race winner in the history of the Cup.
Another racing day began with the Saturday race ratings publication. The judges examined the protests and applications deep into the night. As a result, the KSC assigned 46,660-second penalty to the team #14 Chaban/Dudukalo for the early pit stop exit. Thus, Nikita Misyulya occupied the sixth position in the Race 1 protocol and Chaban/Dudukalo from «AUTOVAZ PROO» moved down to the seventh.
Shortly before the start the judge announced the race to be rainy, which means that all the cars are to take the start on rain tires. Nikita Misyulya, who was supposed to start from the pole position according to the qualification results, arrived at the starting grid after the five-minutes announcement and, in compliance with the rules took the position in the end of the peloton. The same happened to the teams #17 (Kalmanovich/Kobenko), #14 (Dudukalo/Chaban), #74 (Sheshenin/Nezvankin), #1 (Ryabov/Melnikov), #5 (Tyagunov)
Therefore, Maxim Simonov was the first to take the start, followed by Boris Schulmeister (#15), Rustam Akiniyazov (#7) and Sergey Shalunov (#77).
The struggle in the first turn allowed the more experienced racers to move to the leading positions. So, Boris Schulmeister took the lead, closely followed by Nikita Misyulya. By the 9th minute Vladimir Melnikov (#1) moved from the 9th position to the 3rd. Then a serious fight started in the middle of the group between the teams #4 (Maxim Simonov), #14 (Alexey Chaban) and #77 (Sergey Shalunov). Mikhail Tyagunov retired on the 8th lap.
After the mandatory driver change, the three leaders remained the same, all the teams managed to keep the positions they achieved. Alexey Dudukalo who replaced Alexey Chaban felt comfortable under rain. After several effective overtakings, he moved up to the third position. Alexey attacked Nikita Misyulya until the last moment, but the young driver did not let him break to the second position.
No intense fight was to be seen in the middle of the peloton. Sergey Ryabov who started third from the pit stop was pushed to the 4th position, but had to exit on the last lap due to a technical failure.
In the end, the Aeroexpress team Gryazin/Shulmeister won the Cup, Nikita Misyulya finished in the second position, Alexey Chaban and Alexey Dudukalo came in third. The first place in the LADA Granta Cup team event went to Nikita Misyulya with 186 points, the team Bragin/Simonov gained 179 points. Sergey Shalunov took the third place with 131 points, his main rivals Loboda/Akiniyazov scored 9 points less. The penultimate stage has clarified the racers’ positioning in the ratings, but did not allow any team to secure their positions by gaining a lead in terms of points. Thus, the intrigue continues and the most intense battle for the medals is going to unfold in Tolyatti, where the final stage will take place on September 28-29.
The ups and downs of fate or how the 6th LADA Granta Cup stage went at the NRing
The third annual LADA Granta Cup competition stands out from the other Russian auto racing series because of its unpredictability. Combination of the professional racers’ experience and business-drivers’ passion, mandatory pit stops with driver changes, time handicaps – all these give the racers an opportunity to show their best sides, and allow any possibilities of reshuffle in the competition table. And when the weather intervenes...
That’s what the Nizhniy Novgorod stage was like. Tense and awfully interesting.
It all started with qualifying races, where Nikita Misyulya, one of the championship leaders, showed the fourth lap time for the start in the first race on the difficult N-Ring circuit. Meanwhile one of his rivals, Dmitry Bragin, secured the pole position. The other starting positions from the second to the fifth were occupied respectively by Pavel Kalmanovich, Alexey Dudukalo and Sergey Ryabov - the drivers posing no serious threat for those fighting for the gold medal.
On Saturday the professional drivers started the battle first. After the start the leading positions in the peloton did not change except for one: Alexey Dudukalo did not warm up the back tires well enough during the froming lap and as a result started dropping the rankings gradually, which allowed Nikita Misyulya to move up to the third place. Bragin, Kalmanovich and Misyulya took the lead and drove in this order until the pit lane at a comfortable distance from one another. But Alexey Dudukalo, who lost the more than the others at the start, started aggressive attacks on the rivals and became one of the race biggest heroes. Already on the first lap Nikolay Gryazin fell victim to his attacks: Dudukalo slightly pushed the newcomer making him lose control and he exited the race clashing into the concrete fencing. Dudukalo finished the race on the fourth position giving his sportcar over to Alexey Chaban.
After the pit stops Alexandr Kobenko, who replaced Pavel Kalmanovich, took the lead, and was followed by Vladimir Melnikov, the AUTOREVIEW Russian Bears representative, the LADA Granta series debutant Mikhail Tyagunov came in third. Nikita Misyulya who had to wait his 40 second handicap, which is almost half a lap, was in the rear position. And there he remained – he only finished in seventh position. Mikhail Tyagunov lost control and exited the race on the 22nd lap, and the team Nezvankin/Sheshenin could not start due to technical problems.
The final laps of the Saturday race were decisive in the battle for the leadership. Vladimir Melnikov in the second position and Alexandr Kobenko exchanged maneuvers practically until the last turn, keeping rather accurate. However, eventually Vladimir Melnikov made an overtaking claiming his first victory in this season. The third place went to Dmitry Bragin and Maxim Simonov.
Sunday saw a change of weather. A drizzling rain, rather predictable for Central Russia climate in September, started on Sunday and turned the competition into a real racing kaleidoscope giving the spectators many thrilling moments.
Only yesterday the team Gryazin/Shulmeister was pushed off the track by a competitor, and Nikita Misyulya finished only in 7th position. But today the yesterday losers have become the main heroes of the rain race.
As always, the ten sportcars took the rolling start. Boris Schulmeister occupying the second position on the starting grid took the lead from the first seconds overtaking Maxim Simonov who started first in the fight for the championship.
Nikita Misyulya who failed to maintain the leadership had to let his rival Maxim Simonov take the best position. But only for several seconds. After several turns the LADA Granta Cup and auto sport beginner regained his position. Moments later Maxim Simonov himself was attacked by his co-dreiver from Syzran Racing Team Sergey Shalunov and soon found himself behind Rustam Akiniyazov. There was a real life-and-death struggle for the middle positions, Sergey Shalunov and Rustam Akiniyazov were gliding on the slippery track, which helped Boris Shulmeister to increase his lead over the peloton.
However, neither rain nor rivals’ attacks bothered Nikita Misyulys any longer, as he rushed after Shulmeister. Having cought up with the famous competitor, Misyulya overtook Shulmeister with a severe maneuver and took the lead moments before the pit lane, where a 30-second handicap was awaiting him. The same 30-second handicap was assigned to the team Simonov/Bragin.
After the professional drivers entered the game, the second part of the race seemed calmer than the first. But it was only the appearance, until the yesterday hero Alexey Dudukalo put a start to an intense fight and overtook Sergey Ryabov who was then immeditely passed by Mikhail Mityayevа as well. After that the actions among the three subsided and they began to attack young Nikita Misyulya, tired from a long race, while the rest of the peloton lagged behind. The three turned into four for some time, but Alexey Dudukalo pressed the year’s novice too hard and the four fell apart forming two duos. And while the second pair switched positions, Alexey Dudukalo was unable to overtake his opponent, although he was practically pushing his bumper.
Meanwhile Nikolay Gryazin easily and confidently drove his sportcar to the victory meeting no obstructions on his way, bringing the long-awaited victory for Aeroexpress. Nikita Misyulya came in second. The third place went to Alexey Chaban/Alexey Dudukalo team.
Nikita Misyulya became the leader with 186 points. Bragin/Simonov team gained 7 points less. The third position was occupied by Sergey Shalunov with 131 points, Akiniyazov/Loboda had 122 points. Will the new sensation become the new champion? The Nizhniy Novgorod stage made some clarification in the racers lineup, but will it be the decisive race? We will know it soon enough, in less than two weeks, in the final LADA Granta Cup stage in Tolyatti.