LADA SPORT CONTINUES TO MAKE SOLID PROGRESS IN GREAT BRITAIN The Lada Sport team has made more improvements to the new Priora, as the team bids farewell to its current 110 2.0 touring car. Englishman James Thompson, a two-time British...
LADA SPORT CONTINUES TO MAKE SOLID PROGRESS IN GREAT BRITAIN
The Lada Sport team has made more improvements to the new Priora, as the team bids farewell to its current 110 2.0 touring car. Englishman James Thompson, a two-time British Touring Car Champion, drove the new Lada Priora for the second time at round eight of the series, on his home territory in Brands Hatch. Previously, he gave the car a promising debut in Porto, Portugal, underlining its potential for the future.
In the meantime, his team mates Jaap van Lagen (n.18) and Kirill Ladygin (n.19) have been driving the existing Lada 110, but from the next round in Oschersleben at the beginning of September, all three drivers are expected to have the new Priora at their disposal - meaning that Brands Hatch was the curtain call or the Lada 110.
The races at Brands Hatch, a former home of the British Grand Prix, gave Lada Sport another valuable opportunity to develop the Priora further on a track that is well known for being highly technical with difficult conditions. Proof of the progress that has been made with the car, which has not yet been able to benefit from any testing to date, came from an eighth place for Thompson in the Sunday morning warm-up, against a highly-competitive field of 27 competitors.
Qualifying for Brands Hatch was a closely-fought affair, with the total lap distance being only 3.70 kilometres. Van Lagen was the fastest Lada qualifier, lining up on the grid 17th. Thompson was 20th, having been delayed by traffic on his flying lap, while Ladygin was 22nd.
The first race, from a rolling start, got off to a dramatic beginning with several competitors hitting trouble following a light rain shower just before the green light. Thompson was one of the people who had to take to the grass to avoid a spinner in front of him. Unfortunately this caused one of his car's dampers to break - which led to severe handling difficulties later on in the race. Nonetheless he bravely finished 18th.
Under the rules of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, this was the position from which he started race two. Thompson enjoyed a combative race during which he was able to fight with some privateer BMWs but he was again affected by handling difficulties towards the end, eventually finishing 22nd.
James Thompson : "The main thing is that we are in the mix and fighting, which is putting on a good show for everyone and getting Lada's name out there. I'm also very pleased that we were able to bring the car home in one piece on both occasions, meaning that the team can now concentrate on development in the period leading up to the next race, rather than worry about fixing any sort of damage. Our warm-up time on Sunday morning - where we were eighth - was the first time that we have been inside the top 10 during any session, so that's definitely more proof of our potential."
Van Lagen was also off to a flying start in race one, setting a strong pace to climb up to 13th overall and make serious inroads towards the top 10. His hard work was undone when on lap five of the race his car's engine temperature began to rise as a result of a coolant leak. He chose to retire and have his engine replaced for race two, where he started at the back as the rules dictate. He made progress throughout the second race and eventually finished 18th.
Jaap van Lagen :"On the whole it was actually quite disappointing as our pace throughout the weekend definitely deserved a better set of results," he concluded. "We were really hopeful of a good result in race one until we had an engine problem without warning. That obviously compromised our position for race two, but we still managed to have some enjoyable battles with our rivals. The fact that we can fight is encouraging."
Russia's Kirill Ladygin finished 19th in race one behind Thompson, after struggling with handling problems. He was forced to make a pit stop during race two after detecting a problem with a suspension component, but re-joined to finish 24th.
Kirill Ladygin :"At the end, I'm happy," he concluded. "We had some problems, but in terms of pace this was one of the most competitive outings that we have had all season. When my car was working well, I felt real confidence in it: probably the best feeling I have had all season. The current Lada 110 has done a good job for us, but now we are all looking forward to the next chapter with the new Priora."
The WTCC contenders are looking at a 5 weeks gap now as the next race is in Oschersleben (Germany) on 5 and 6 September.