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SMP RSKG: Irina Sidorkova working on "squeezing every point out"

W Series star Irina Sidorkova entered the third round of the SMP Russian touring car championship at KazanRing with the "conquer yourself" motto in mind, as she battles with a technical gap on fast and dry tracks.

Photo credits: Marat Daminov / SMP Racing

SMP-supported driver Irina Sidorkova entered the third round of the RSKG - the Russian Circuit Racing Series - behind the wheel of her Volkswagen Polo at KazanRing last weekend.

The 17-year old star of the W Series Esports League is currently 11th in the points standings, following a challenging start of the season where she found herself battling with less competitive equipment compared to her first participation in the series two years ago.

Her light blue Rally Academy car - "Smurf", as she has nicknamed it - has shown a general lack of straight-line speed and pace in dry conditions: "Smurf does not like sunbathing and tracks with long high-speed straight lines." - she said before the KazanRing event.

"But I have already said that this year I have my own tasks - I have to defeat myself and squeeze out of the Smurf what he did not even imagine he could!"

Sidorkova qualified eighth on the grid for the first race of the weekend, 0.9 seconds adrift poleman Vladimir Sheshenin in the #11 Lada Sport Rosneft, while her gap to fourth-placed Karamyshev was only three tenths - a promising result for Sidorkova on such a circuit, characterized by long straights.

In Sunday's Kazan races, the Touring Light class was joined by the Super Production, with classify remaining separate. Sofit Racing Team's Vadim Antipov started from overall pole, with Dmitryi Lebedev sharing the front row for the rolling start. Antipov had a great sprint and pulled away, while Sidorkova was swallowed by the Touring Light field on the straights - confirming the challenges the young Russian had predicted.

Despite a lock-up that allowed the pursuers to close in, Antipov led Lebedev and Meites after the first lap, while Sheshenin led the Touring Light class. Behind him, the two TBRacing Peugeot of Shushakov and Akhmetvaleev swapped positions for the podium.

Sidorkova ran in P15 overall and P9 in class, before a great move on the third lap which gained her two positions - but she quickly had to defend again on the long straight preceding Turn 8.

There were battles all over the field - with the track width allowing 4 or 5-wide action. Among them, Panfilov and Fridman traded positions for sixth in Touring Light class, just as Meites and Petukhov fought hard yet clean for the lowest podium spot in the Super Production category.

Antipov in the #78 Subaru could again sign off and win with an over 4-seconds advantage over Lebedev and Meites, while Vladimir Sheshenin claimed Touring Light victory ahead of Simonov and Karamyshev following a stunning last lap battle that saw Shushakov losing out two places. Irina Sidorkova dropped back to P17 overall and P11 in class in the final stages, despite giving it her all on the fast-flowing KazanRing circuit.

In the second race, Aleksandr Garmash started from overall pole position, alongside Vladislav Nezvankin. Artem Fridman led the Touring Light field, with Irina Sidorkova in second place. It was Nezvankin to fire straight into the overall lead, with the second Lada Rosneft of Petukhov close behind. The latter had a better exit out of Turn 1 and gained the top of the leaderboard.

Sidorkova had a great start off the line but was caught in the middle of some contacts, dropping to third in class. But, soon after, another tough race was again presented in front of her: out of Turn 7, the young lady was passed by most of the field on pure straight line speed.

Just as Akhmetvaleev went wide and onto the grass at the last corner, Sidorkova tried to hold on and made a few places back, completing the first lap in sixth.

On the third lap, Rakhmatullin and Karamyshev made door-to-door contact, opening a gap for Sidorkova. The Rally Academy driver, though, was pushed onto the grass and dropped further down the order in P8.

A few metres ahead, there was more drama in the Super Production class as race 1 winner Antipov found a way around the #50 Lada of Nezvankin, but the leading pair made contact that left the Lada Vesta with heavy damage at the front.

Akhmetvaleev's Peugeot 208 R2 suffered an engine blow and was the first retirement in the Touring Light class.

Further down, Sidorkova got plenty of TV airtime due to her many battles: she tried to hold off Shushakov, but the driver of the #19 Peugeot got past, sparing no contacts. They both closed in on Cherevan when he just about saved a sure spin at the last corner, but Irina couldn't find a way past his Rally Academy teammate.

In the overall classify, Meites was off on lap 13 - likely suffering from mechanical troubles - and Petukhov in the second works Lada parked his car with two laps to go.

Antipov held on to his lead, but Lebedev was quickly catching up with him. As the two navigated the lapped traffic, Antipov just about managed to cross the finish line ahead, claiming his second Super Production victory. Sheshenin made it two out of two in Touring Light as well and preceded Fridman and Karamyshev at the chequered flag.

Sidorkova was P9 in class - her car bearing the scars of the hard battles and crossing the line with no front bumper. This result secured her eighth in the combined race results.

"The main thing is not to lose your head" - she commented after the race.

"I've finished the race weekend at KazanRing P8 in total. And then it is not the place that causes surprise, but the fact that I fight and stay in the peloton even on such a fast track in dry weather! This makes me happy, it means that we are doing everything right with the coach and the clarity of my work allows me to keep the pace at a level even on this car."

"There is another important training aspect - psychological resistance to stress. The hardest thing this year is knowing that you are not competitive and will fight not only for leadership, but for every single point, somewhere in the tail, just work with a cool head. Conquer yourself is my motto this season!"

The Russian touring car championship will hit the track again on 22-23 August at Moscow Raceway for the fourth round of the championship, but Sidorkova's next commitment will be the final round of the W Series Esports League next Thursday, as she will try to defend third in the final standings.

Photo credits: Marat Daminov / SMP Racing



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