Ira Sidorkova wins the final race of RSKG season
Unstoppable in the race, Irina Sidorkova took her second victory of the season in the closing event of the 2022 season of the RSKG National Touring Cars Championship.
The sixth round of the RSKG was marked by the 'Super Production' class title decider – as well as the redemption of Ira Sidorkova in the final race of the season.
The previous round in Saint Petersburg left a feeling of frustration, where mechanical problems prevented her from scoring important points for the championship, after a long pit in race 1 and an early retirement in race 2.
However, at the Fort Grozny Autodrom, the 19-year-old was able to smile again after achieving her second win of the year – which was also her sixth appearance on the podium.
Despite the victory, Irina described the last round as "difficult", as her #51 Subaru BRZ had shown a good performance in the practice session on Thursday but could not repeat the same results the following day.
With a different schedule than most of the previous rounds, qualifying at Grozny was held on the same day as the first race, on Friday, with only five hours in between the two sessions.
The best lap time in qualifying – a 1:25.362 – put Ira Sidorkova in 6th position on the starting grid, forming an all-female row alongside her Sofit Racing teammate Katerina Boyarinova. When the lights went out, the race scenario started to get difficult for Sidorkova, who lost a position and, on lap 3, she had to build her way up from 8th place. However, it didn't take long for her reaction to start her charge up the field.
At the beginning of lap 6, having overtaken Alexander Garmash at turn 1 of the Fort Grozny Autodrom, Irina Sidorkova regained a position and on the next lap the chances to fight for the top 5 were more realistic. When Roman Golikov lost pace, she could regain her starting position – which was not yet representative of her relentless recovery drive.
The chase to Katerina Boyarinova in the #18 machine gave Sidorkova the chance to attempt a pass – which eventually happened at the end of lap 12, at the end of an intense battle between the two Subaru BRZ. On lap 15, Sidorkova was already 6 seconds behind Garmash, but over 10 seconds behind fourth-placed Ivan Chubarov. With the 5th place practically consolidated, it was up to her to manage the pace until the end of the race.
On the last lap, Chubarov's Lada Vesta hit trouble and left the track for a few moments – but he managed to rejoin and drag his car to the finish line. It wasn't enough for Sidorkova to reach him, but she still secured the top-5 and 14 more points for the championship. Nikholai Vikhansk was the race winner in the Super-Production class.
In the early afternoon of Saturday 8th October, the drivers took to the track for the last time in the 2022 RSKG season – in the race that revealed the Super-Production class champion and brought back Ira Sidorkova to the top step of the podium. Starting from third place, she managed to complete a great overtake in the first corner and passed Nikholai Vikhansk's #80 car, thus taking the lead.
However, still on the first lap, the Lada Sport's yellow cars appeared again in her rearview mirrors, indicating that she would need to fight to the chequered flag in order to secure the victory. Ivan Chubarov passed Irina and, at a strong pace, he recorded the fastest lap of the race. The 19-year-old driver then showed her determination and, on the following lap, she topped the fastest lap time and approached Chubarov.
On lap 5 Sidorkova finally regained the lead – which she never left until the checkered flag. Her teammate Sanvel Iskolyants took the extra point by recording a new fastest lap and, by finishing in fourth place, he earned the title of class champion.
Despite the pressure from Ivan Chubarov, Nikholai Vikhansk and Leonid Panfilov – who pursued her throughout the race – Ira Sidorkova remained consistent throughout, driving her #51 Subaru BRZ to victory; she therefore climbed the top step of the podium for the second time this year, ending her participation in the RSKG season on a high.
"It is great to finish the season with the win, but the final result is not exactly what we aimed for and what our speed allowed to be at."
A series of unfortunate technical troubles meant that, despite having the pace to consistently finish at least in the top three – and contest for victories – Sidorkova finished sixth in the championship standings.
"I am sure that we could have competed for the win in the championship if it were not for the technical issues." – she told us after the final round at Grozny.
"It is great to finish the season with a win, but the final result is not exactly what we aimed for and what our speed allowed us to be at."
While it might be too early for a definitive plan for the upcoming season, Sidorkova hinted at the interest to increasingly explore TCR machinery.
"[It's] too hard to predict anything in the current times", she said. "But if it depends on me, I would definitely prefer to be in the TCR class."
Irina had the potential to finish the championship in the top 3, but unfortunately the results of the fifth round – influenced by mechanical problems – directly impacted the final standings, as she totalled 176 points. Nevertheless, her participation in the 2022 season in the Super-Production class undeniably deserves recognition for her performance.
Over 12 races, Sidorkova collected 6 trophies, 2 for victories – in Nizhny Novgorod and the most recent one obtained in Grozny. Obviously, there were also challenging moments – such as two retirements for mechanical problems; that's where Sidorkova's ability to overcome adverse situations came into play and allowed her to bounce back and finish on a high.
This was Ira Sidorkova's fifth participation in the RSKG, across 4 different categories, where she collected 1 championship title – in 2018 – 9 wins and 13 more podiums. From now on, she will continue to work on personal projects and continue her intense physical preparation while waiting for a new opportunity to return to the tracks in the future.