Zheludov takes win on WRC candidate

From General Article [ 28/09/2008 ].
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Alexander Zheludov has won the first ever Russian WRC candidate event – “Novorossiysk Rally of Russia 2008”- to clinch his second title of the national champion – in addition to the one he got back in 2006. The driver, competing in a Tommi Makinen Racing-built Subaru Impreza N12, took the lead on the evening loop of Friday stages, and since that has never looked back, despite numerous problems hitting both him and his rivals. This victory became third in a row and fourth in the season for the experienced driver, and once again showed his unique ability to combine great performance with high reliability.

The final day of “Novorossiysk Rally of Russia 2008” consisted of six stages divided into two loops over territory to the west and north of Novorossiysk – all held on high-altitude and twisty mountain roads. The wind, which had been so strong during the rally, dropped by Sunday afternoon, as if it wanted drivers and spectators enjoy the final kilometers of the distance in a perfect atmosphere. In total, the crews covered 107,16 kilometers of competitive distance during the second day of action in the resort region of the south of Russia. Overall, 20 crews finished this rough and difficult rally.


Zheludov and his co-driver Irina Kolomeitseva didn’t have an easy run, though, as by the end of SS10 the brakes on their Impreza were finished, hence they had to complete the rest of distance in a cautious manner so that not ruin everything on the last kilometers. Fortunately, the crew was left alone far ahead of other competitors still in the fight, and while Alexander couldn’t relax because of the technical problems, at least was he able to maintain his advantage without any risks. The victory of Arkadiy Bogomolov in A6 category became a good icing on the cake for the Protech M-Sport team, who took the lead in the team’s standings.


The main sensation of the rally came from Group N3 competitors, who managed to occupy 4 places in top6 of the general classification! The newly crowded Russian champion in N3 category Sergey Naryshkin (who also won A6 titles in two previous years) demonstrated his champion’s abilities in a perfect fashion by finishing 2nd overall, seven minutes behind the top spot holder and 4 minutes ahead of his closest persecutor – Mikhail Milov in a similar Ford Fiesta ST car. It was a historic result, as for the first time in modern history of Russian rallying front-wheel drive competitors made it to the podium.


Victories on all afternoon stages were taken by Alexander Gavrilov from Red Wings Rally Team (the same which competes in the PWRC with Evgeniy Aksakov). Overall, he won 4 out of 6 stages of Sunday, as he approached them as a good possibility of testing for future gravel events. The training proved to be really successful, because in addition the young driver finished 5th in the rally. The driver in a blue-white Impreza was fighting for victory and even leading the previous event of the Russian Championship, and there he showed his talent and fighting spirit once again. The amount of young Russian stars is growing… Alexey Ignatov, finishing 2nd on the rally in N2 category, saw another confirmation of it. The 25-years old driver took the title in the group, as well as in the Citroen Cup**.


Alexander Zheludov (winner, Novorossiysk Rally of Russia 2008; 2008 Russian Rally Champion**): We were one of only few crews to complete the rally without using the SupeRally system on this difficult rally. There’s no point of talking what could be, had our rivals have stayed in the fight. But they failed to preserve the car and make it to the finish, while we did and succeeded. Our victory is deserved.


Sergey Uspenskiy (Chairman, Novorossiysk Rally of Russia 2008; first vice-presodent of the RAF): Compared to the WRC rounds, the roads here were completely smooth, so the problems many crews experienced, were connected with the level of their preparations. I’d say that many of our drivers are just not ready for such a difficult route. The roughness of roads we could witness today, was somewhere below average level for world rallies, so the roads were in a perfect condition. Those, who want to compete at the world’s level, must understand, that this rally isn’t anywhere as tough as some of legendary world rallies are. And still, we put huge efforts into the route’s preparation. For example, we used about 300 tones of gravel to prepare only one SS – Neberdzhay, and the FIA’s observers were pleasantly surprised with the way we had approached the organization of the rally. We have two more years to prove we deserve a place in the WRC calendar, and we’re confident we can make this event even better and meet all the requirements and expectations.


Unofficial results after SS12, Novorossiysk Rally of Russia 2008*:


General classification:


1. Zheludov/Kolomeitseva Subaru Impreza N12 1:25:17.7


2. Naryshkin/Trostin Ford Fiesta ST +7:02.6


3. Milov/Kolomiets Ford Fiesta ST +11:00.4


4. Goncharov/Baranov Ford Fiesta ST +18:33.2


5. Gavrilov/Zinoviev Subaru Impreza N12 +21:53.9


6. Galkin/Maslevskiy Ford Fiesta ST +22:24.1


7. Bogomolov/Zimin Citroen C2 VTS +22:24.8


8. Nazarov/Larens Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI +23:00.1


9. Malakhov/Petrovskiy VAZ 21083-37 +26:05.9


10. Kruzhkov/Kuzminikh Ford Fiesta ST +29:38.3


N3 winner: Sergey Naryshkin (2nd overall)


N2 winner: Alexey Ignatov (14th overall)


A6 winner: Arkadiy Bogomolov (7th overall)


*All results are provisional until declared officially

**Subject to confirmation by the RAF


Please check the official website of “Novorossiysk Rally of Russia 2008” www.rally-russia.com