Oleksandr Gaidai was completely frustrated after the second Porche Carrera Cup Italia Race at Misano, last Sunday. The Ukrainian driver could only spell a blame for himself because in his strongest ever race, he committed a fatal mistake. Alex was 2nd overall and faster than provisional leader Berton. while fighting to keep behind Cairoli. He spun in Quercia corner and missed the opportunity to fight to the last lap for his first ever win in PCCI.
The missed podium was only the bitter finale of a remarkable weekend for Gaidai and Tsunami RT. On Friday, nobody could predict what was supposed to happen in the Misano weekend. The team wanted to keep high the Ukrainian flag for more reasons. On the engine bonnet of the car there was a new sticker with an important motto: “UKRAINE BE STRONG”, which referred to the hard moments the country survives this period. Alex didn’t impress with his speed at Free Practice 1 & 2, Liberati and Postiglione where those who dominated the two sessions respectively. Gaidai couldn’t get a perfect lap on FP1 but improved by 1,2”on FP2, with exactly the same car setup.
Alex had a good start and arrived 4th on the first corner. The Tsunami RT pilot had a strong pace not far from the fastest three – Postiglione, Liberati and Cairoli – for most part of the race. He fought back the initial attacks from De Giacomi and Berton and committed no mistakes. The result was a deserved 4th overall finish. This was the maximum the Ukrainian could achieve given the circumstances. Alex was happy but complained about engine power: “Surely this was the best result of my career but still I could be on the podium today If I was a little bit faster on the straight line”, Alex said. The driver asked from Giovanni, the team engineer, to check the telemetry data. The driver’s feeling was verified. The engine had many hours of running and was not on its peak any more. A productive debate followed, in regard of a possible engine replacement. Finally, it was decided to skip the job that would keep the mechanics busy overnight. Replacing the engine was not considered safe, given the timeframe. According to the PCCI rules, where the first six drivers of Race 1 start Race 2 in the opposite order, Alex would start from 3rd and should fight with the fastest pilots not only in front but even behind him.
This was definitely the strongest race in Gaidai’s career. So far. Alex had a decent – but not perfect – start from 3rd on the grid, kept his position decisively during the first lap, resisted Cairoli’s attacks and he pushed enough to overtake De Giacomi for 2nd. Subsequently he tarted pushing Berton for 1st, while Cairoli was again behind him. It
was on Quercia, the left corner No8 at Misano, where the Ukrainian dream vanished. Alex smoked the tyres during braking, felt losing the front end and spun, remaining on tarmac. The Ukrainian restarted 9th and arrived to the flag 8th overall. Cairoli won the race 7,6″ ahead of De Giacomi. Everybody in the team was disappointed for the missed podium. Alex was comfortless more than anybody else. But this is not the end of the world. It is not the end of Gaidai’s career either. After Misano, everybody in the Italian PCC is convinced that Alex has raised his game dramatically since last year. He seems to be capable of podium finishes and – why not – of an outright win. Remember that Oleksandr spun while he was fighting from 2nd to win. So, this is actually a new beginning for Gaidai and Tsunami RT. Stay tuned. More to come next weekend 17-18 May at Imola for the 2nd round of Porsche Carrera Cup France and on 30-31 May at Monza for the 2nd round of the Italian PCC. Alex be strong!