In a rainy journey, Christian Ledesma (Chevrolet Astra nº 9) claimed on sunday the title of the Argentinian Touring Car Championship (TC 2000) at the thirteenth round disputed at Rafaela Raceway, where his teamate, Marcelo Bugliotti (Chevrolet Astra nº 10), took the victory for the factory team.
It was just a formality. Ledesma's championship in TC 2000 was almost a fact since the season started with the overwhelming perfonmance shown. However, this sunday came the final day when the 28 years old driver could say to everyone: champion!
"it must happen a miracle to loss this championship", commented Ledesma after the Bahía Blanca comeptition. The miracle never showed-up and Ledesma took his championship.
Only for the record we must know that Ledesma started from 12th. place and drove cool until arrived on seventh at the end of the wet race.
The brand new champion achieved his first big title in Argentina. Ledesma was close on 2003 to take the crown in Turismo Carretera (TC), but he ended with the sub-championship after all.
His other two championships were in 1994 with the Formula Honda and in 1997 in the Formula Renault. Ledesma also tested a Formula 3000 car in '98 at Magione, Italy. But, as many other argentinians dirvers, the budget put a limit to his aspirations. "I needed a million dollars and at that time it was all set to sit (Esteban) Tuero in Formula One with Minardi. When he latter left the team, I wanted to kill him....", remembered Ledesma.
Things weren't came up bad for Christian. It took a few years, but he is now between the top dirvers in a place so competitive as it is Argentina in racing cars.
As it happened with Norberto Fontana's victory last week when Omar Martínez took the TC title, Bugliotti's excellent perfonmance at Rafaela under the rain was almost unnoticed.
From his fifth place on the starting grid, Bulgiotti sailed to the victory with the Astra. Driving as he knows, when he leaves the mistakes appart, Bugliotti shown all his potential with bad track conditions. After five laps, in the first Pace Car appearence, the winner was already second and looking for more behind Nicolás Vuyovich (Toyota Corolla nº 4).
Bugliotti, who will retire at the end of the season, pushed hard and on lap 12 passed Vuyovich, who a lap latter spun off leaving his chances outside the road.
From that point, the Astra driver comfotably led the competition, only bothered in the last part by Juan M. Silva (Honda Civic nº 6), who, betraied by the wet track, also spun when was in the heels of the leader.
Silva finally arrived third and took a good result from a complicated weekend. With dry conditions, Sivla qualified 17th. Under the water he used all his driving skills to put the Honda ahead.
Gabriel Furlán (Mitsubishi Lancer nº 8) scored second place and cut like this several races without good results.
Furlán, winner this year at San Juan, could recovered from a spin in the start of the competition and added important points that leaves him now sixth in ths standings.
Who couldn't save his weekend was the 2003 champion Gabriel Ponce de León (Ford Focus nº 1). The winner two weeks ago of the 200km of Buenos Aires along Patricio Di Palma inciated the race from 23th. position and retired on lap 28 after several mistakes. Ponce de León, the only with chances for the championshp after Ledesma, needed the victory at Rafaela. All the weekend was far away of get it.
A great perfonmance shown both privateers drivers Esteban Tuero (Volkswagen Polo nº 30) and Emiliano Spataro (Volkswagen Bora nº 27). Tuero was the main protagonist of the first part of the race. The former F1 men led the field until a small mistake, reasonable to the conditions, put him on third. Tuero continued fighting until on lap 21 electrical problems left him out.
Different luck had Spataro. The former factory Peugeot driver completed a fantastic race in his first apperance with the Bora and scored best fifth.
The standings after thirteen races has the already champion Ledesma with 150 points. The dispute for the sub-championship has Silva with 110; Bugliotti 101; Ponce de León 105; and Fontana (fourth with the Corolla) with 93 units.
The round close to the 25th. season of the TC 2000 will have place at Mar del Plata on Decembre 5th.