THE 1ST RACE OF THE UNITED 2000
Alexey Dudukalo wins the Touring, Lev Tolkachev wins the Super-Production.
The start was more successful for the Granta drivers – the pole position holder Mikhail Grachev gave the way for Alexey Dudukalo and Pavel Kalmanovich with no resistance. This was the end of the intrigue in the 1st Touring race: the three leaders finished in the same sequence.
But there was a serious fight between the next three racers on BMWs. It seemed that Oleg Chebotarev would maintain the 4th place - Artem Kabakov on his tail was not only attacking but also tried to fight off Roman Golikov pressing him from behind. Shortly before the finish, after the last and most highspeed turn of the Smolensk Ring on the wet asphalt the racers lineup changed: Artem Kabakov’s car veered around, Golikov took the advantage of the situation and overtook the two rivals!
Mikhail Stepanov had bad luck in the race – he couldn’t make it to the finish. The Super-Production race saw significant losses: Andrey Maslennikov exited the race after the 1st lap, shortly followed by Pavel Yashin, Alexandr Tupitsin barely made it to the finish – although at the beginning it seemed he could claim the bronze medal. However, Alexey Belogolov came in third eventually, Sergey Shalunov finished in the second position, and Lev Tolkachev took the third prize.
The Russian Circuit Racing Series 8th stage determined the Russian Championship and Cup winners.
The Russian Circuit Racing Series final stage held on September 27 and 28 at the Smolensk Ring drew a great audience. It was the Sunday race that determined the winners of the Touring-Light championship class National Cup event, but the audience’s patience was rewarded by the spectacular fight on the track, an air show by “Rus” aerobatic team and a pop concert.
The winners of the 2-liter classes were determined in the previous stage in Sochi. Mikhail Grachev secured his title in the Touring, but did not skip the final racing. The first race on Saturday brought him only the third place – he was overtaken by LADA Granta drivers Alexey Dudukalo, who won the race, and his co-driver from the Lukoil Racing Team Lada Pavel Kalmanovich, who came in second.
The second race went at a usual pace for Grachev– having taken the start from the 4th position according to the reverse grid rule, the Omsk racer took the lead leaving no chance for his rivals up to the finish. The silver medal went to Pavel Kalmanovich, and the third prize became a pleasant conclusion of the season for the NPK Elliron team driver Roman Golikov.
Andrey Maslennikov had also secured his Super-Production title beforehand, but participated in both 8th stage races. The Saturday race finished with an early retirement for him – the victory went to Lev Tolkachev, followed by Sergey Shalunov and Alexey Belogolov. But Maslennikov proved that he is worthy of the Russian Cup in the Sunday race: he moved up from the last position to the first, passing his LADA Sport INNOCENTI clubmates Vladislav Nezvankin (2nd place) and Lev Tolkachev (3rd place).
The Suspense in the 1,6-liter classes was at the highest notch. The traditional battle did not leave the safety cars, provided by “Volkswagen Group Rus” and “Skoda AutoSpecCenter on Taganka” without a job. Nikolay Gryazin won the first race in the Touring-Light class under drizzling rain, the B-Tuning leader Andrey Sevastianov came in second, Vasiliy Gryazin, performing for Sports Racing Technologies like his brother, finished third. On the following day the reverse starting order gave a chance to the B-Tuning drivers – but Nikolay Gryazin managed to press Andrey Sevastianov and his co-driver Dmitry Kaluzhsky back and finished in the first place again. The points he gained would bring the 17-year old Nikolay Gryazin the Russian Champion title, but… His car inspection by the RAF technical delegation showed gear ratio inconsistent with the homologation card – and Nikolay’s result in the 8th stage was nullified. Therefore, Boris Schulmeister from the same team Sports Racing Technologies became the Touring-Light class winner of the season!
Egor Sanin could win the Russian Cup in the National class for the second year in a row – he had a chance to pass ahead of Vladimir Sheshenin before the final race. However, Egor’s bronze medal and early retirement in the weekend’s race did not help his claims, and Vladimir’s victory in the first race and 2nd place in the second one brought him the chamionship.
The Russian Circuit Racing Series final stage press-conference was attended by the season’s winners, RCRS manager Oleg Petrikov, SMP Racing Chief Executive Dmitry Samorukov, RAF Chief Executive Sergey Ivanov and RCRS racing director Alexandr Sotnikov.
Dmitry Samorikov, SMP Racing Chief Executive:
«When we started the circuit sports development program, we had doubts. But this Russian circuit racing series season showed that this is exactly the SMPRacing format. Now, at the final stage, I understand that the decision to support Russian Championship and Cup was avsolutely correct».
Oleg Petrikov, the Russian Circuit Racing Series manager:
«Thanks to the SMP Racing support we gained an opportunity develop the National Championship. By the end of the season the Russian Circuit Racing Series obtained the recognition of both racers and spectators. We raised the standard rather high and we will maintain the level next year. We will provide a more detailed description of our plans in a special press conference».
The drivers also expressed their gratitude for the past season. In particular, Vladimir Sheshenin expressed his appreciation of the new level of interaction between the drivers and spectators, and Mikhail Grachev mentioned the work with the Media.
Marcelo Lotti, the WTCC ex-promoter and new racing project TC3 author, visited the RCRS 8th stage by the invitation of the Lukoil Racing Team Lada. He made a positive assessment to the Russian Circuit Racing Series: after watching the previous Sochi stage recording, he admitted that the RCRS organization level corresponds to his team’s level. At the Smolensk Ring Lotti noted effective sponsorship – the branding of the track with flags and banners, according to him, it was done better than in many other national championships.
Traditionally, apart from seeing final racing of the season, the fans had an opportunity to meet their favourite drivers in person during the authograph session or buy an exclusive hand watch from Pilot Nesterov, designed in collaboration with the Smolensk Ring, and witnessed a real show closing the weekend event. The Rus aerobatic team aircrafts’ inversion traces, lining the sky over the autodrom, had hardly dispersed when The RCRS Best Mechanic awards ceremony began – Evgeniy Omelin from B-Tuning team won the title. The Russian pop-singer Glyuk’oZa’s hits opened the Touring-Light and National events awards ceremony, Mark Tishman’s performance was followed by the Touring and Super-Productin awards. Kristina Orbakaite’s performance and impressive fireworks closed the concert.