“And where are we going?” It is not only a question of a driver of a cab you caught at night in a strange city. It is the main question that poses itself a sporting team before the beginning of every racing season. Who can answer it better that the team director? We pass the word to Irina Kolomeitseva.
We had some time to consider various options and weigh all pros and contras during the off-season. Now our plans took their final shape.
First of all, let me talk about our plans for the season. The main goal is to remain on the leading position in PCCI in the team classification and put a winning period in the individual classification. I hope the marshals will not throw sand in our wheels, as (there is nothing to keep from you) it was the previous year. We want to win, and it is not just a wish: we have a certain responsibility already. We will not repose on our laurels because we became the No. 1 team in Italy; otherwise, we have to work even harder to… not to confirm, there is no confirmation needed, but to continue on the course. You know, it happens that a team works on cine curve: ups and downs go in turn. What I want to say that we will have no downs.
So, we want to preserve our leadership in Porsche Carrera Cup Italia, and Oleksandr Gaidai will fight for the Champion’s title in the Division B of the French series. These are our tasks and plans for the season.
Let’s proceed with the new Porsche GT3. Immediately after the end of the previous season we planned to take this car, made tests with Oleksandr Gaidai, and began to discuss the possibility of participation in endurance races.
We expected that we would take the car as soon as possible and go to Dubai with it, but Porsche had some delay with the delivery of consumer vehicles. Than we started to discuss with Porsche the possibility to take the vehicle for this season, go to GT Italy and long races, but the main thing we needed was the Porsche technical support: a factory engineer and a truck with spare parts for each race. It is obvious that wear parts like drive gears and pads are required anyway. But homologation is not simple: sometimes even the slightest touch on the track may cause the need of a small detail, and if it can’t be replaced instantly, a driver won’t be able to continue the race. Unfortunately, Porsche company could not guarantee that it would provide a truck with spare parts for each race in the calendar of this season.
So the decision was made to take the GT3 vehicle in the end of the season of 2016 and make a test session for the drivers and mechanics then. The point is that the Cup vehicle and the GT are two different cars. It is more simple for the drivers: the car is pleasant to drive, but it is slightly more difficult for the mechanics to work with. And it is not our style to leap into action of the new series and to learn from our own mistakes. That is why we will take the car this autumn, perform the tests, teach the staff to work with it, and then we’ll go to the competition and pretend to the high ranking positions at once. This is a new project of Porsche, a rather ambitious one, and we want to comply with it and with our reputation.
The “Mugello 12 Hours” race will open the season for us. We will be able to make conclusions in the result of the race on how good we are at the long races, whether each team member is located properly. We have our first start in endurance races with such a team squad, with these mechanics, managers and drivers, and it will be very telling for me. Many decisions for the season of 2017 will be made taking this experience into account.
- Do you ever watch such a long-term perspective?
Not always. I have already told that I often take spontaneous decisions, and I am often emotional. But even in the moment of impulse the part of my brain responsible for the logic is active. I listen to my heart, but the brain makes its calculations on the options.
Of course, I try to see the perspective, but it is difficult for me as I am a non-systemic person. I just know that it is our way. I am a co-driver, you know. The explanations on the reasons for the direction will come later.
- How the strategic decisions are made in the team? Do you make them by yourself or listen to the drivers’ opinions first?
Certainly, the drivers’ considerations are taken into account. They must be interested, they must have motivation. However, if tomorrow our drivers decide that they want to participate in the Championship of the Moon, I will consider it a cool opportunity but we won’t go to the Moon. It is because the team consists not only of the director and the drivers. When the driver finished the race, he goes home, and minds his affairs or just sits on the sofa. But mechanics continue to work. Our schedule may require to assemble, for example, Gaidai’s car which Fulgenzi hit the last Sunday, in three days. Then the managers are rushing to find all the necessary spare parts to bring to the workshop, and mechanics assemble it all. We have to understand and to respect their lives: they have families and the right to spend some weekends with them. Sometimes they have to leave work at 6 p.m. and drink wine during the family dinner, and not to work until 2 a.m.
I can want whatever I want, but it is not me to twist screws or to drive of about fifteen hundred competition kilometers a week. That is why I first of all listen to what the people around talk, and not just spray with ideas. That is the way the decisions are made: the interest of each team member are taken into account. Because if something is wrong, everything will collapse. My task is to build a strategy from the rational point of view and not to ruffle everybody in process.
- What is taken into consideration except the team members’ interests when the plans for the season are made?
Everything is very logic and simple. Firstly, we assign a task to strengthen our leadership and win in the season. But you can win nothing without any effort. It is possible, maybe, in Zambezi Championship. Bit if we talk about haute motorsports, every victory has its way. Let’s have a look: we have a Cup vehicle, so, we can choose one of the Cup series. We are located in San-Marino, and it would be a sacrilege not to participate in the Italian series, given that it became so interesting. France is not very far from us, and the French Championship is interesting itself, and it will have even more competitors this year. England is distant already, that means significant transportation expenditures. We can see that, having a certain car, our geographical choice of series in which we can participate is rather limited.
The next year, when we have GT3, new decisions will be made on our further development. We will discuss it with the team management, mechanics, Porsche, to adjust the calendars, resolve financial issues and certainly take into account that the human capacity and working efficiency are limited.
- You have said that the Italian Cup will become very interesting. Do you like the changes expected for this year?
I am delighted by the format I have seen in the regulations. Being the rally soul, I got used to the non-stop action. I already said that the most difficult thing in circuit races for me is the period of waiting between the qualification and the race… And in this season the Italians filled the three racing days with intense action. It gives everybody a lot of pleasure. We get a long race and two sprints, drivers get more driving hours, mechanics get the possibility to practice actions that will be needed in the endurance races. On paper, I like everything, the Italians are great, they managed to enliven the series, put new steam into it. It creates an intrigue in the Championship, a beautiful picture. I am waiting impatiently for the start of the season to see how it will be implemented.
The French organizers also forge ahead. They will have only two weekends on the territory of France and decided to open up new tracks. This means new emotions, it is a challenge for the engineers who make the vehicle settings. Maybe, it will be a more expensive version, but it will definitely give the teams a possibility to develop and become better. It is very important for us that the French organization agreed to consider only five races of six in the Division B classification this year. It is very important for us because one PCCF round coincides with the Italian one, and now we have the right not to participate in this race.
- What do you feel before the beginning of the season as a head of the best team in Italy?
I am eagerly waiting for the beginning of the season. The process is tiring, of course, there are a lot of worries. But if your blood has high octane rating, you can’t remain without motorsports for a long time. When thirty cars are lined up on the starting grid ready to jump into action, everything is forgotten at the moment. So I can say that I am looking forward to the first start.
As for the Champion’s title… We won the Ukrainian Championship since I had founded the team, then I became the Overall Champion of Russia, in 2009 we won the team classification of the Ukrainian Championship both in rally and in circuit races… So, our next step is always more difficult that a previous one. My foretaste of the new season as a champion team can be presented in one phrase: We are not going to stop! Never look back!