Smolensk Ring Circuit, July 11-12, 2020. After the 2019 season that was full of ups and downs, GTE Racing Team decided to concentrate on S1600 class and sent two branded LADA Granta FL S1600 cars prepared by Lada Sport with clearly recognizable green, yellow, and blue colors to the start of the first stage of 2020 SMP RCRS Championship. The pilots for the 2020 season did not change: the colors of the GTE Racing Team will be represented by the main pilot Philipp Tuponosov and his young colleague Vasily Vladykin, who had already spent one season in the Super Production class.
It is worth reminding that the S1600 class is one of the most popular, competitive, and spectacular classes of the SMP RCRS Championship, offering specially prepared racing cars of up to 170 hp.
GTE Racing Team arrived at the Smolensk Ring Circuit well-loved by many pilots to participate in a long-awaited opening of the 2020 SMP RCRS season in a good mood and with a high competitive spirit, as the off-season of 2020 was record-long because of the coronavirus pandemic, while the GTE Racing Team staff and pilots missed the real racing and wheel-to-wheel competition.
The first qualification of the season was successful for both GTE Racing Team pilots. Philipp Tuponosov took a brilliant 4th place, and Vasily Vladykin was the 9th on the starting grid of 19 cars in his debut S1600 Class qualification.
The first race began with a rolling start, and given the configuration of the track with short acceleration to the first corner in the form of a right hairpin, it promised intense battles in the entire peloton of 31 cars of S1600 and Touring Light classes.
Philipp took the start confidently, avoiding possible contacts in the first corner, where at one moment 5 cars were driving in the same row, and managed to keep his position. By the end of the first lap, thanks to smart overtaking and mistakes of his rivals, Philipp managed to reach 2nd place. Vasily Vladykin was a bit cautious at the start of his first race in the new class, and managed to avoid collisions, but lost many important positions already in the first corner, getting some of them back by the end of the first lap and finishing it the 14th. On lap 2, after Ilya Gorbatsky's crash, a safety car was deployed and the race resumed only on lap 6.
The restart brought no surprise, both GTE Racing Team pilots kept their positions. By the beginning of lap 7, Vasily managed to win back 4 positions and took 10th place in his class. On the next laps, Philipp Tuponosov confidently held the second position, showing good pace on every lap, while Vasily kept the 10th place. On lap 12 it started to rain, which promised new intrigue on the final laps. That's exactly how it happened – mistakes and crashes followed one after another until the race director hang the red flag in lap 14. During these laps, Vasily managed to win back four positions and finished the 6th, while Philipp managed to take the 2nd place and achieved his first podium in the SMP RCRS Championship. An additional bonus for the GTE Racing Team was the victory in the team classification after the first race, which was possible through the amazing piloting of both racers.
The second race with a standing start was started by Philipp in the 4th position and Vasily in the 9th. The start and the first lap of Philipp were above all praise, the main pilot of the GTE Racing Team was able to react perfectly to the starting signal and break into the leaders of S1600 class. Vasily's second start in his new class was not the best either – several positions were lost. GTE Racing Team pilots finished the first lap in the 2nd and 13th places, respectively. At the beginning of lap 5 Vasily Korablev, taking advantage of the higher speed of his car, at the end of the starting straight attacked Philipp and the main pilot of the GTE Racing Team dropped down to 3rd place. Vasily Vladykin finished lap 5 in the 13th place without any changes in his position. By lap 8, Vasily was able to win back one place, rising to the 12th, Philipp was showing a cheerful pace and continued to be the 3rd. On lap 9, Philipp had to give way to Boris Shulmeister in the battle for the podium, dropping out of the top three, but the main GTE Racing Team pilot didn't give up and made continuous attempts to attack Boris. At the same time, Vasily made two more overtakes and managed to break into the top ten. GTE Racing Team pilots spent the second half of the race at a stable pace without changing their positions, but in the last laps, the audience could watch a beautiful battle between Philipp Tuponosov and Peter Plotnikov for whole three laps, where Peter was able to pass Philipp only a couple of corners before the checkered flag. The final positions of GTE Racing Team pilots in the second race: Philipp Tuponosov took the 5th place and Vasily Vladykin was the 10th.
After the first stage of the 2020 SMP RCRS Championship, Philipp Tuponosov is 2nd in the S1600 class individual classification with 31 points, Vasily Vladykin is 9th with 15 points, and GTE Racing Team is 2nd in the team classification.
Globaltechexport Ltd. congratulates its team and pilots on the good results of the first stage and wishes them to consolidate their success gained in Smolensk in the future.
Stage 2 of the 2020 SMP RCRS Championship will be held on July 25-26 at the newest Igora Drive track in the Leningrad region. The live telecast of all races will be broadcasted by Match! Group of Channels.