Ira Sidorkova takes her first win in 2022 season in a thrilling race
In the second round of the national touring car championship, held at Nizhny Novgorod, Irina Sidorkova had another brilliant weekend and scored her first win in the series.
The second stage of the RSKG championship, held in Nizhny Novgorod, brought a roller coaster of emotions for Irina Sidorkova. The young driver, now 19 years old, experienced extreme situations in the two races held at the NRing.
Back at the circuit where she had won for the last time in her career to date - in the Touring Light class in 2020 - Sidorkova had free practice session in the morning of last Friday and had the opportunity to get back to grips with her Subaru BRZ..
In the afternoon, cars hit the track for the qualifying session that would set the grid for race 1 and Sidorkova proved that she was in great shape to compete for a big result over the weekend: Irina's best lap, 1:25.067, gave her the 3rd place on the starting grid and raised the expectations for the following days.
However, not everything went as expected on Saturday, when some unpredictable situations arose in race 1 of the Super-Production class. Nevertheless, Sidorkova remained focused and even more motivated to continue fighting for the top of the standings in Sunday's race.
Saturday's race came with positive feelings for Ira Sidorkova. Starting from 3rd place on the grid, she had great chances to fight for the podium and even for her first victory of the season - but when the red lights went out, things started to change very fast.
In the first corners of the Nizhny Novgorod circuit, the fight for second position was intense between the Sofit Racing drivers and the Lada factory team, when Irina's Subaru BRZ #51 was voiced by the cars #33 of Roman Golikov, #53 of Leonid Panfilov and by the #18 of Katerina Boyarinova as well.
Irina kept it on track for a while longer, however, the strong lateral contact received on the first lap damaged the car's steering rods, compromising its drivability. On lap 6, she entered the pits and the team's mechanics worked quickly so that the young driver could return to the track.
After returning to the race on lap 8, Sidorkova still drove a few more kilometers, but the car issue was more complex than it had looked and, on lap 10, she had to retire.
Despite the frustration of not being able to finish the race, Irina Sidorkova remained focused to continue in the competition the next day.
On Sunday afternoon Sidorkova had another opportunity to continue her participation in the second round as the car was fixed. If the day before luck seemed to have abandoned the young driver, this time it gave her an extra helping hand on the first lap.
Starting from 6th place on the grid, Sidorkova started her climb up to the top three right at the first corner, after rookie Sergey Gorbatenko had ran off the track. The first lap of race 2 was also very busy among the drivers ahead of Irina, with several position changes.
On lap 2, Ivan Chubarov took the lead of the race, meanwhile one of Sidorkova's teammates, Sanvel Skolyants, suffered critical damage to the front right wheel of his #44 car and had to return to the pits for repairs. Irina gained one more position and, by lap 3, she was already in 4th place.
But it was not all about luck, obviously, as Ira Sidorkova showed great pace aboard her Subaru BRZ #51, setting the fastest lap of the race for the first time with a time of 1:26.173, and she caught up with the leaders. On lap 5, she hunted down Nikolay Vikhansky's #88 car and after overtaking him she finally reached a podium spot.
In the following laps, Sidorkova continued her hunt for the top positions, further increasing the pace and closing the gap to the leading duo. On the seventh lap, she performed a brilliant overtake over championship leader Leonid Panfilov.
A young driver fighting against very experienced touring car drivers, Irina continued to showcase her talent and determination to take her first victory of the season: with some fast laps, she reached race leader Ivan Chubarov, from the Lada Sport team.
Right at the beginning of lap 11 Sidorkova tried to overtake her opponent on the outside line - between turns 1 and 2 - but Chuvarov defended well. However, nothing could stop Ira Sidorkova in her intense fight for victory, when at the beginning of lap 12, she took the lead on the main straight, only to complete the maneuver on the inside of turn 1.
For the first time in this season, Irina Sidorkova was leading a race, and remained at the top until the very end when she reached the highest step of the podium - rounded out by Leonid Panfilov and Nikolay Vikhansky.
Irina Sidorkova told us a little more about her successful weekend in Nizhny Novgorod, the contact with fans and her plans for the remainder of the championship.
RACERS: Firstly, congratulations on your first victory in the RSKG, achieved with an impressive performance from start to finish of the race.
Unfortunately on Saturday things didn't go so well, where you had to retire from the race due to a mechanical issue. How did you mentally manage this situation to stay strong the next day?
IRA: "Thank you! Saturday was an upsetting day since some drivers in touring cars never had any experience in open wheels and don't have that feeling that you have to be very accurate not to touch other driver's wheels not to fly up to the sky. They feel more aggressive - there's a lot of contact driving which I believe even in touring cars should be penalized more often by the judges. However, it is motorsport and things do happen here. So, you just forget it and get ready for tomorrow."
R: To the general public, it may not seem immediately clear how physically demanding a race is, but it was possible to see your physical effort before the podium ceremony. What contributed more to this - the intense pace of the battles or the high temperatures in Nizhny Novgorod?
I: "Racing is a very physically demanding sport, since any loss of attention caused by your tiredness, even just for a thousand of a second, can cost a fortune. Especially when the temperature outside your car is extremely hot. It was about 35C that day, with a high humidity. So, I remembered my formula races, where the open air blows into your face playing the role of an air-conditioner. It is absolutely different in a closed car. But it is just another real example why you need an intensive gym course to be a competitive racing driver!"
R: There were many kids at the track over the weekend and surely, despite being only 19 years old, you are a reference for future generations. How was the contact with the public during those days?
I: "I am racing for a team from Nizhny Novgorod, so last weekend was a 'home run'. The fans were incredible. I was out of my signature cards planned for the weekend but I am happy with that! And that feeling when the crowd makes the noise when you climb the podium - it is fantastic!"
R: This time, the gap until the next stage in Kazan will be shorter compared to the first two, with just 18 days in total. How will your preparation be until then? And after that first win, how are your expectations changed for the rest of the season?
I: "The weekend in Kazan will not be an easy one. I will gain the 'champions weight' [BOP] of 30 kg to my car to become one of the heaviest. But every race I try to be the winner! As for the plans, I will do some gym and some sim sessions."
The result obtained in the Nizhny Novgorod round kept Ira Sidorkova in third position in the Super-Production class, with 72 points collected, 21 points behind leader Leonid Panfilov and just 1 point behind runner-up Ivan Chubarov.
Now, Irina will have 18 days of preparation for the next RSKG races, which will take place at the Kazan Kanyon Ring, on 30th and 31st of July.