Having missed the Togliatti stage, the main forces joined the fight for the championship awards at Seliger. Plus, this rally was included in the standings of the new “Citroen Cup”. In short, the start list was 51 crew and looked quite solid.
Once in the unwritten laws of the Russian motor sport there was a rule according to which not a single race could claim the status of a stage of a national championship in its first year. The first year is “indicative,” then you can submit an application for inclusion in the Cup, and only with positive feedback – a candidacy for the stage of the highest national series for the third year. But the time has come for revolutionary change. The first sign was “Snowy Ladoga” – having passed last year for the first time, it is already becoming the Championship stage this year. Rally “Seliger” broke into the realities of today even faster – it was awarded the highest status in the year of its birth. Everyone understood that “behind the back” of the new race was the chairman of the RAF rally committee, the country’s multiple champion Sergey Uspensky.
Having missed the Togliatti stage, the main forces joined the fight for the championship awards at Seliger. Plus, this rally was included in the standings of the new “Citroen Cup”. In short, the start list was 51 crew and looked quite solid. The most powerful was the group of “serial” all-wheel drive cars N4, the main characters of the championship. “Small” class N2 gathered all the “Citroen”. The A6 test, for the fate of which there were concerns after the ban on the performance of VAZ “eights” in it, did not disappoint either. The obvious favorites – Timofey Vorobyov on whale-car Citroen Saxo Super-1600 and Anton Zakharov on Peugeot 206 – were joined by two brand-new Moscow “two hundred sixths” and Petersburg’s Igor Gromov on “one hundred and sixth”.
The 22-kilometer “prologue” on Friday evening allowed the crews to set up at the start of the main part of the race according to real forces. And at the same time, he demonstrated that serious speeds are outlined – the leaders raced through the SU1 with the average “over 130”, in some places even the powerful Lancers walked at maximum speed, accelerating to almost 200 km / h. At the prologue and determined a group of favorites. Which is not surprised. The chances of Ouspensky in places familiar to him were regarded as objectively high. And the main rivals, as usual, were called Andrey Zhigunov (“PRO-Sport”), Stanislav Gryazin (“Lukoil Rally”), Maxim Novikov (“E-Art”). The second group of “applicants” of awards consisted of both experienced pilots – G. Denisov, V. Prokhorov, and representatives of the “new wave” of racers – R. Fedik, A. Kurmasheva, Y. Trutnev, as well as talented young people, who were impressed with rapid progress – D. Korsakov and A. Dorosinsky. The latter generally could be considered the main “dark horse” of the rally – he spoke at the Subaru Impreza “from Prodrive”, the most modern preparation, and the car was rented and served by Balts from Cueks Racing.
The beginning of the main part of the race met expectations. The first two special stages (about 30 km at such speeds!) Ouspensky and Gryazin raced off with times equal to tenths of a second! But the fourth “extra”, in fact, decided the fate of the race .. An endless series of turns, due to the high snow blade of the practically “blind”, relatively low (average – “only” about 100 km / h) speed. A track which is rapidly broken almost to the ground, a lot of snow applied. Here I made a mistake and put my Lancer on the roof of Maxim Novikov. Literally half a kilometer after him, Gryazin stopped too – the engine exploded, and the only thing the ex-champion could do was throw the car on the parapet, so as not to interfere with the passage of the others. “I did not agree” with the new Evolution VII Prokhorov – it took a lot of time to remove his car from the snow “pedestal”. Zhigunov was driving cleanly, but he could not catch up with Ouspensky, and the team at the end of the first day decided to abandon unnecessary risk. The bets on youngsters went to ashes on the following special stages – Korsakov lost more than 2 minutes in a snowdrift (“at the same time” depriving Fedik of all chances – he had to dodge viewers who helped pull the car out of Dmitry, and in the end Ruslan himself attached to the parapet).
In the A6 standings, it was difficult to compete with Vorobiev – it was painfully a good combination represented by an experienced Yaroslavl pilot and his supercar. Even in spite of the fact that the crew had to endure several unpleasant minutes – the motor mount broke off, and in order to get to the service, it was necessary to construct a mount from … branches of a roadside tree. Nevertheless, at the finish red Super Saxo was the seventh in the overall standings, ahead of a good half of all-wheel drive.
In the “mono class” N2 (here all the participants are competing at the Citroen Saxo and participating in the corresponding Cup), Petersburgers Andrei Buneyev and Alexander Zolotar confirmed their claims to the status of favorites, finishing first with a confident margin. The most “subcompact” class P9 (“eight” with motors of 1400 cubic cm) turned out to be completely Petersburg.