Sochi Autodrom, August 31 - September 2, 2018 — after the first-ever podium of the Autoproduct MATCH TV GTE RT at Moscow Raceway, they arrived at the legendary Sochi Autodrom in high spirits and with a firm desire to repeat and build on their success.
Since the Sochi Autodrom track was originally designed to be surrounded by the picturesque facilities of the Olympic Park, it has a very unusual configuration with a lot of long corners and relatively short straights. In addition to the long lap distance of 5,853 meters, another serious challenge awaited the racers — a terrible heat that had struck Krasnodar Territory a few days before the stage. This factor seriously affected both the balance of forces, the work with tyres, and the spiritual welfare of drivers — many of them went off the track, and the number of false starts broke all records for the past few years.
Friday's qualification for the Autoproduct MATCH TV GTE RT pilots was quite successful, and our pilots Philipp Tuponosov and Evgeny Meites took the 6th and the 4th places on the starting grid, which promised good chances for a new podium in the first Saturday's race.
Saturday's start was not good for Philipp and Evgeny. By the first turn, both drivers lost a few positions in close competition and had to start winning back right away. Evgeny Meites showed an excellent race pace and quickly caught up with the group of leaders, but even with that speed, Evgeny was not able to get higher than 5th place —he lacked only 1.5 seconds to reach the second podium in the history of our team! Philipp Tuponosov in his racing Lada Granta managed to take 7th place and earned important points for his team.
Sunday's race started much more successfully for our pilots. Philipp Tuponosov confidently took the lead, and Evgeny Meites managed to keep the position in the spurt to the first corner, and after a few laps, Evgeny confidently took 3rdplace in the race.
Unfortunately, the stewards detected a small false start of Philipp Tuponosov, as well as of two other drivers on the starting grid. Since a false start is punished with a pit lane pass, Philipp had to change his tactics and turn up speed as much as possible to minimize losses caused by the upcoming penalty. After the pit lane pass, Philipp returned to the track in fifth place while Evgeny was under constant pressure from his rivals, and repulsed attacks when defending the 3rd place in the classification. Tough struggle kept until the checkered flag and Evgeny Meites managed to defend his position, bringing the Autoproduct MATCH TV GTE RT team its second podium in history! Philipp Tuponosov made an intense battle with Alexander Garmash driving Volkswagen Scirocco. The pilots changed positions several times and as a result, Philipp saw the checkered flag 6th in his class.
At the end of the 6th stage of the SMP RCRS Championship, the Autoproduct MATCH TV GTE RT team took 2nd place in the team classification, yielding only to the Lada Sport Rosneft factory team. Such a result was possible thanks to the excellent piloting of our drivers. Our congratulations on their success!