2016 RDS ROUND 2 - ATRON
The second round of the Russian Drift Series, which took place on May 27-28 on Atron International Circuit near Ryazan city, surprised many fans of the Russian drift. New participants, whose number allowed to arrange the traditional Top-32, new winner, failures for acknowledged leaders, freak weather. But let’s put everything in order.
As it always does, the second round started off with Friday qualifying runs, and the weather meant much here. Despite the forecasted clouds, the warmup runs took place on a dry surface, and it looked like things could remain that way, but just as the cars lined up in a starting area for qualifying attempts, the storm broke. Heavy rain poured onto the track. The referee tent established on the roof of the sports complex rushed towards the parking lot for spectators in flashes of lighning (but was successfully caught). Only three drivers could set up a ‘dry’ result, and after the others started to spin in puddles, the decision was taken to suspend the session. But the storm has passed, the rain stopped, and the drying track saw the sportscars again. The best in qualifying was a 2013 Ukrainian champion Alexey Golovnya on Autoprofi Team Nissan 200SX. The driver from Kiev gained as much as 96.33 points, but it would be wrong to say that he has smashed the opponents. Drivers from 1 to 12 achieved the result of 90+ points - a rare consistency! The second place came to Evgeny Satyukov (Toyo Tires Gorilla Energy Techno Cartel), Andrey Pesegov (Tuning Factory / Goodride / Aimol) was third. Surprisingly weak result in qualifying came from Yaroslav Gavrikov, whose white Supra became a must on the top of the list: only 24th with 81.33 points. An equal result for Artur Melkumian, who ended up 25th. But Saturday’s tandem runs in Top-32 format, as was declared earlier, meant that many drivers would go through, leaving behind only two of them: Alexey Blokhin (technical) and Felix Chitipakhovian, who did not start for medical reasons and joined the commentators on the referee post.
On Saturday the track remained dry during the whole day, and the spectators could see the clean battle from start to finish. Pretty expected, in the first runs Alexey Golovnya, Andrey Bogdanov, Evgeny Satyukov, Evgeny Ruzheynikov, Andrey Pesegov and Nikita Shikov won from their less skilled rivals. An interesting and rather unpredictable was the fight between ‘Gocha’ - a very experienced Georgiy Chivchian from Krasnoyarsk, and Yaroslav Gavrikov, who couldn’t stop amazing us last year. The winner in this battle was Gocha, while Yaroslav had to accept the 25th position in the end of day. It was also hard to predict the winner before the fight between Nikolay Tigaev and Artur Melkumian. But in this pair, despite the unconvincing qualifying result, judges chose Artur on a white Silvia S13.
Bright, in every sense, was the contention between Ekaterina Sedykh and Ivan Nikulin. In the first attempt the car of Ekaterina, acting as a pursuer, suddenly caught fire. Female driver from Vladivostok successfully drove to the end of the track, where marshals immediately bathed her car in a soap from fire extinguishers. Nevertheless, after a brief inspection a white Silvia S15 came out for the second attempt, and this time spectators saw the repeat of the fireworks: leaving the burning trail on a tarmac behind, Ekaterina’s car ran the final turns with a rear bumper on fire. Despite the great result (three points advantage after the first run), Ekaterina had to declare the technical retirement, and Ivan Nikulin passed on into the next round. And the reason for ignition became clear later.
‘On the finish I tried to analyze, what did I do wrong, why the pursuer straightened, and it turned out that this time the bumper of Silvia literally ignited, and Ivan Nikulin had to hold the safe distance’ - Ekatina told afterwards. ‘It turned out that during the direction changes fuel spilled on the rear bumper, exhaust pipe and tarmac. The exhaust is very hot, so the ignition started, and the fire thread stretched through the tarmac. My Nissan Silvia S15 is prepared in accordance with all safety requirements: fuel tank is made of specific material, which rules out the inflammation, and it is separated from the driver's compartment with a fireproof plate. So, when the fire has been extinguished, the car was again in full commission. But the fact that the technical fluid spilled onto the track is strictly punished, and, according to the rules, the pactiripant is disqualified… Such a shame.’
But the competition didn’t end there, and another surprise came from Artur Melkumian: in his second appearance the Moscow driver left behind no one else, but Gocha Chivchian. Ivan Nikulin suffered from another offense from the rivals. During his One More Time run with Pavel Busygin the driver of the white Toyota Mark II was hit into the front bumper entering the first turn: Pavel, running behind, was simply faster, and the car travelled right into the leading driver, which meant that Nikulin passed to the next leg, while Busygin ended up ninth. Arkady Puchinin, who qualified very well, was left behind the best 8, Vitaly Polischuk, Anton Svarinskiy, Andrey Bobnev, William Gukasyan and round 1 hero Fedor Dzezhits also couldn’t pass.
But inside the Top-8 the tension did not ease. While the victory of Andrey Bogdanov over Ivan Nikulin was predictable, as was Andrey Pesegov’s win from Nikita Shikov, Artur Melkumian knocking out of competition quali winner Alexey Golovnya amazed the spectators on grandstands yet another time. But the most intense was the battle for Top-4 between Toyo Tires Gorilla Energy Techno Cartel teammates Evgeny Satyukov and Evgeny Ruzheynikov, with One More Time coming after Ruzheynikov’s off-track travel, but after that Satyukov was better again.
He came on to win the duel with Andrey Pesegov, while Andrey Bogdanov stumbled upon Artur Melkumian, who fought like a lion and earned himself the road to final. In anticipation of the day’s main run, Pesegov and Bogdanov had to decide the faith of P3, but that battle turned out to be crumpy.
Andrey Pesegov: ‘The cardan, installed on Friday, lived through the warmup runs, tandem passes but this time the drive unit let us down. I was running first, and while changing into fourth gear I felt a hard impact: lots of grip, high power, and the drive unit broke down, torn right in the middle. Andrey hooked me, as I dropped the pace, and his car was also damaged.’
Ironically, Tuning Factory / Goodride / Aimol team were first to declare the technical retirement, and that promoted to third Addinol Drift Team’s Andrey Bogdanov, whose car was also seriously damaged and would not continue without a long repairment.
Possibly, prior to the final run Evgeny Satyukov was fully prepared to the winner’s champagne, but Artur Melkumian surprised everyone again: without any collisions and re-runs the white Silvia driver beat the standing RDS vice-champion. Tradidionally, though, the organizers kept the intrigue until the podium ceremony. The victory in Ryazan became the first one for Artur, while the second podium this season let Andrey Bogdanov and Evgeny Satyukov built a solid gap in general rankings: their points advantage over third-placed Fedor Dzezhits is nearly a double.
The third round of the Russian Drift Series will take place on June 17-18 on many drivers’ favourite NRing circuit near Nizhny Novgorod.
2016 RDS Round 2 Results