Rob Huff, James Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy prepared for Marrakesh street circuit challenge.
A trio of new LADA Granta Sport TC1s are en route to Morocco, where the Circuit Moulay El Hassan Marrakesh street circuit will host the opening round of the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) this weekend (11-12 April).
Last week, LADA Sport LUKOIL carried out a final pre-season test with its trio of drivers – Rob Huff, James Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy. They shared their pre-season thoughts and impressions of the new Granta WTCC challenger.
“The new tyre compound allows you to drive in a more racy manner and you can attack quite hard. However, while the car feels great, we have a lot of work to do throughout the season because, having completed limited pre-season testing miles, we don’t quite understand what the car is capable of and how to optimise the setup. The very first race will give a reference point and, one thing’s for sure, it’s gonna be an exciting and eventful year!”
James Thompson: “After the 2014-spec Granta’s first shakedown in mid-March, the team struggled with some early teething problems that are an inevitability when building a brand new car. The entire team has worked tirelessly and, having completed so few testing miles, it's still too early to have an accurate impression of the car’s competitiveness. What I can say is that the car is significantly faster than the old model, although it can be faster still and we are working on it.
“The braking is markedly different to the previous year, as the aero is now a powerful tool. Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not LADA Sport LUKOIL has an advantage – some of the team’s chief competitors have very aggressive aero packages – but, maybe the car’s relatively small dimensions will help in terms of top speed. I would also like to reassure those motorsport fans who are afraid that the new aero packages will hinder the close racing the FIA WTCC is famous for. I have no doubts that the spectators will continue to be treated to some classic touring car battles, but at much faster speeds!”
Mikhail Kozlovskiy: “We can judge the pace of the new Granta Sport only in comparison with the previous version, because we didn’t share the circuit with other teams during the pre-season tests. The car has received more power, has improved dynamic abilities and the aerodynamics are much better due to a reduction in height and an increase in width. The car’s balance is also better due to significant suspension improvements and the weight of the car was reduced by using more carbon fibre parts.
"I would like to thank all of the LADA Sport LUKOIL team for the job it has done! The first half of the season is going to be very tough. Only one week after Morocco’s event, we will have an FIA WTCC round in France. It means the drivers have much responsibility to preserve the cars in Morocco, bringing them to the finish, as we say, "in one piece", because there will be no time to correct serious mistakes and repair heavy damage.”
LADA Sport LUKOIL