Extra-ballast makes for a challenging weekend for Ira Sidorkova
Updated: 6 days ago
In the third round of the RSKG season, Irina Sidorkova had to face new challenges to fight for important points for the championship.
Coming from a fantastic performance in Nizhny Novgorod, where she took her first victory in 2022 at the second round of the National Touring Cars Championship, young driver Ira Sidorkova had to deal with a new challenge. As per regulations of the competition, an extra weight of ballast was added to her Subaru BRZ, making things a little more difficult last weekend.
Initially scheduled to have 5 race meetings between June and October this year, the RSKG calendar has gained an extra round, to be held in Kazan. Unlike the previous events, this time the schedule was compressed to two days, as it was in the 2020 season. With the free practice session and qualifying planned on Saturday, Sunday July 31 became a very intense day, with the two races taking place just four hours apart.
Despite the short time to adapt to the new weight of the car, Irina showed a regular performance on Saturday. In the morning free practice session, she completed 7 laps around the Kazan Ring Canyon track, with a best time of 1:34.048, finishing in 5th place. During the afternoon qualifying for the first race, Sidorkova managed to increase her pace, reaching a 1:32.752 on her best lap - which gave her 6th place on the starting grid.
The first race of the 'Super-Production' class started at 12:05 on Sunday, and the thermometers read 25°C on the circuit. Starting in 6th place and having the heaviest car on the grid, Ira Sidorkova would not have an easy life. When the lights went out, Irina managed to maintain her starting position, when at the exit of turn 3 Nikolay Vikhansky received a touch from Katerina Boyarinova and lost control of his Honda Civic Type R. As a result, Irina moved up to 5th place.
On the following two laps Irina Sidorkova and championship leader Leonid Panfilov had a beautiful duel, where for a moment the two switched positions. But Sidorkova managed to regain 5th place, where she remained until the end of the race. Before seeing the checkered flag, she continued to put pressure on her teammate Katerina Boyarinova, in a duel between the two women on the grid for 4th place.
At the end of lap 8, Irina had a good run and seemed in a position to try to overtake. However, at the end of the main straight, the Subaru BRZ of both drivers were overtaken by Pavel Kalmanovich from the 'Touring' class that shares the race track with the 'Super-Production' category. They would have to give way to Kalmanovich's Audi RS 3 LMS - which allowed Boyarinova to distance herself a little.
Despite the difficulties that the extra weight in her car imposed, Sidorkova still kept pushing for as long as possible. Until the final laps, she would ultimately manage the situation and settled for 5th position. Katerina Boyarinova finished the race in 4th place, which had Roman Golikov as the winner.
Just over 3 hours after the end of the first race, the drivers were back on the Kazan Ring Canyon track for Race 2, which brought a historic fact in the 'Super-Production' class. For the first time, the first row grid was occupied only by women! With the result of Race 1 – which determines the starting positions, the two teammates Katerina Boyarinova and Ira Sidorkova shared 1st and 2nd place respectively.
In the first stages of the race, Boyarinova had a good start and managed to retain the lead, while Sidorkova - who had the heaviest car - lost 2 positions. By the end of the first lap Leonid Panfilov had taken the lead, which would then be taken by Roman Golikov. Ira Sidorkova was noticeably affected by the extra weight in her #51 Subaru BRZ, and ended up losing a few positions over the first few laps.
Irina was still struggling to keep up the pace with the drivers in front, until, as in the previous race, she again had the chance to compete for position with Katerina Boyarinova, who was in 6th place at that time. Unfortunately, on lap 7, Sidorkova ended up making contact with Boyarinova's car, which left the track and got stuck in the gravel. Irina was given a drive-through penalty by the stewards for the collision, but completed the race, taking 6th place.
"In the first race, there was no acceleration at the start. The slip stream did not work on straight lines" - Sidorkova explained. "It was very hard to fight, because on all exits and directs, Phil (the name given to the Subaru BRZ) and I were much inferior in pace."
"In the second race, the weight of the car again did not allow us to make a decent start for the fight. Breaking away from rivals on all breaking, I lost a lot on straight lines and acceleration, which did not leave me a chance to fight."
"Yes, I lost 3rd place in the overall standings, but this is only half of the Championship!" - she continued. "Now the maximum concentration on Moscow. We will be lighter, which means faster!" - Ira said about the last races in Kazan.
After the weekend in Kazan Irina Sidorkova now sits in 5th place on the leaderboard with 98 points, 34 less than the current leader of the championship Roman Golikov (132 points). Nevertheless, the young driver showed her maturity in managing each race and her ability to face the challenges, especially in race 1, where she managed to fight for positions.
The next round of the RSKG will take place on the 19th and 21st of August, at Moscow Raceway.