"Racing is clearly better than sitting on the couch" - Ira Sidorkova gears up for racing season
Irina Sidorkova shares her point of view on her motorsport experiences after a sudden forced change of plans in the 2022 season and also on her new focus on GT car racing from 2023 onwards.
At only 19 years of age, Irina Sidorkova has already faced some unpredictable situations in her racing career and 2022 has perhaps been one of the most evident examples.
From a denied visa that prevented her from competing in the last two rounds of her W Series rookie season, the young driver had her second appearance in the all-female series suspended, due to circumstances outside of her control. Now, on the eve of her debut to the competitions in 2023, Sidorkova talks about her recent experiences.
RSKG - Super Production Class
With an uncertain overview on the immediate future of her career, Sidorkova was given a chance to continue racing and stay active on the race tracks. About a month before the start of the National Touring Car Championship season, the young driver landed a seat in the "Super Production" class, where she raced a Subaru BRZ.
While Sidorkova was not completely satisfied with the final result of her season, she saw the opportunity to keep driving as positive one despite the circumstances: "There's definitely nothing useless, racing is clearly better than sitting on the couch at home".
Overall, Ira Sidorkova entered 12 races, conquered 2 victories and 4 more podiums – but also had 3 technical problems that eventually had a decisive impact on her classification at the end of the championship: "The season went on with varying degrees of success" – she said. "I am satisfied with how quickly I got into a new car and in a new class for me, because the decision to enter the competition in the Super Production class was taken at the last moment."
"Let's start with the fact that initially everything turned out very spontaneously. Nobody thought that it would be possible to race in the Super Production class and even in a Subaru. It all happened just a month before the season, and it is clear that there was not much time for testing. Hence some problems as there was not enough understanding of the settings, the car and in general." – explained Sidorkova.
Even facing some adversities throughout the championship, the young driver was able to demonstrate her ability to overcome issues and was competitive in most of the races, performing intense battles and memorable overtakes, especially against the drivers of the Lada Motorsport factory team. Until the first half of the season, Sidorkova was steadily in the top 3 and fighting for the title, but the results obtained in the fourth round ended up weighing negatively on her points tally.
"I'm glad that I still achieved such successes this season, but there were negative points."
"For example, in St. Petersburg, we can say that it was a decisive stage. Everyone was close to each other on points. We understood that whoever lost the more, most likely, will not fight for anything further."
The mechanical problems presented by her Subaru BRZ in the two races held at the Igora Drive Circuit cost her a lot of time in the pits in race 1 and forced her to retire from race 2. As a result, for the first time in the championship she was left without scoring points in a round.
"I retired twice for technical reasons because of the engine. I didn't score points while my opponents scored 50. Of course, it's the penultimate round of the championship that immediately takes you out of the fight."
She continues: "So I'm disappointed with the final result of the championship. With my pace and time, I could expect on more. And if we talk in general, then some of those moments in terms of individual races, the fight, I was very satisfied."
4 Hour akhmat race
Before the end of the season, 2022 also brought an unprecedented opportunity. With a professional background developed in karting, single-seaters - Formula 3 and Formula 4, and in touring classes - aboard the Volkswagen Polo, her first participation in a long-term race with a TCR car took place on October 9, in the traditional local event , the 4 hour Akhmat Race. Sidorkova shared a #51 Audi RS3 LMS TCR with other RSKG 2022 drivers, Sanvel Iskolyants – who was one of her teammates on the Sofit Racing Team, in the Super-Production class and Timofei Buyanov – who competed in the S1600 class.
"It was especially interesting to experience the 350hp Audi RS3 TCR, a touring car that is considered to be the fastest front-wheel drive car in existence."
"Let's start with the fact that it was a 4 hour endurance race - before that I had never tried myself in such long races and, at first, I didn't think I would be able to drive well enough. Anyway, we had several difficulties and, although we didn't win that race, everything was not bad in terms of pace, interaction with the car and with the team."
"In total, I spent just over an hour and a half behind the wheel, and first of all I was interested in testing my physical strength. Will I be able to endure the whole distance or not? After all, at the same time you need to manage your tyres, communicate with the team, and I was very happy when I did all of this. I got out of the car and said: - Guys, I'm not tired! - It was probably the brightest of last season." - concluded Irina.
Ira Sidorkova drove the Audi RS3 LMS TCR for over an hour, managing tyre wear well and maintaining a good pace throughout the stint. In addition, she still took the #51 car to the highest place in the standings, ending her stint in 5th place. After the race, the young driver revealed on her social media that she had an extra problem - a shoulder injury, but that did not compromise her performance: "Driving the Audi TCR in the Akhmat Endurance Race, where I spent about 80 minutes behind the wheel, was much easier for me than driving Subaru in the RSKG, where a race lasted max of 40 minutes. Why? I raced the season' 22 with a shoulder injury. Before every race, I got an injection of a strong painkiller."
"The main problem is that in Subaru I was driving with a manual gearbox and shifting to 6th gear caused severe pain due to the specific position of the shoulder at that moment. This was especially felt on fast tracks. But in the Audi there were paddles on the steering wheel and my shoulder felt completely unloaded... I could completely focus on the car and turn on the thrill of driving!"
The team finished the race in 8th place overall and showed a very consistent performance. Perhaps they could even have achieved a better result, if would not for the replacement of the extinguisher on board, which had activated itself unexpectedly during the first pit stop, meaning that the mechanics had to come into action quickly to replace it.
2023 - first Full season in endurance racing
Off the race tracks since October, while waiting for a new opportunity, Ira Sidorkova has followed an uninterrupted and intense physical training routine at the gym, sessions on racing simulators and since the last few months, boxing has also become part of her preparation, helping her recovery from the shoulder injury that suffered and as a cardio exercise.
Now, being in great physical condition, the young driver waited to discover her 2023 racing plans – which are subject to her sponsor. The wait is now over, as Sidorkova has now announced a new adventure in her career path – her first participation in a full season of endurance racing,, with the focus on future opportunities to race in Gran Turismo car series.
On the eve of her RSKG Endurance debut, Sidorkova had her first contact with her new car - a Ferrari 458 GT3, in practice sessions held at the Sochi Autodrom and spoke about her impressions behind the wheel of the machine:
"First of all, I would like to note that this car is the fastest racing GT car I have ever driven."
"Before the first lap, I did not even know what to expect, well, of course, except for a bunch of positive emotions from driving such a 'demon'. After I got into the car, my teammate for this season, a very experienced and fast Alex Skryabin told me the main nuances of its driving. The car is very pleasant to drive, obeying the steering wheel and clearly responding to every command."
She continues: "It took me a while to get used to it since before that, I had driven such powerful racing cars only in formula classes, and formula cars are fundamentally different. As soon as I more or less rolled in, I began to get the same buzz from control and speed, from the sound of the engine. And now I can say for sure that it is the car that made the maximum impression on me."
The first round will also take place at the Sochi Autodrom, between March 31st and April 1st in a race of 3 hours + 1 lap and Irina said she is confident to show a good performance: "Of course, there is still much to strive for and learn, the first race is near and you need to be in the best shape, but I am sure that with my team and teammate Alex Skryabin we will succeed!"
2023 RSKG - ENDURANCE CALENDAR
R1 – Sochi – March 31 - April 1st
R2 – Saint Petersburg – May 26th to 27th
R3 – Grozny – October 7th to 8th
R4 – Sochi – November 3rd to 4th