LADA Sport LUKOIL drivers James Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy will take part in round eight of the FIA World Touring Car Championship this weekend, from 3-4 August. The race takes place in Argentina: the first time that the South American country has ever featured a round of the WTCC.
The circuit where the WTCC crews will race for the first time is located in the touristic area of Termas de Rio Hondo, in the Santiago del Estero province, 1300 kilometres from the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. The 4.8-kilometre circuit was inaugurated in 2008 and has already hosted motorbike and national car races. But the WTCC round will be the very first international event of this stature to be held at Termas de Rio Hondo.
Next year, there will in fact be two races in South America: Argentina again and Curitiba in Brazil, so this is a significant event. As LADA Sport LUKOIL team principal Victor Shapovalov comments: “The fact that the organisers are putting such a strong emphasis on this region is not a coincidence.
The South American market is interesting for many car manufacturers, including LADA. AVTOVAZ has resumed exporting cars to South America after a 15-year break, and the participation of LADA cars in international races throughout this region is very important for the LADA brand and the manufacturer’s image.”
Eager to get stuck into the action once more, LADA Sport LUKOIL drivers James Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy spoke about their impressions of this weekend’s race in Argentina: a first for them as well as the WTCC.
Two-time British Touring Car Champion James Thompson said: “The Termas de Rio Hondo circuit will be new for all the WTCC drivers except for the local Argentinean driver who is making his WTCC debut on this round. So it’s a step into the unknown, which means that all the drivers will actually start on a level playing field when it comes to knowledge of the track.
Friday practice will be very important, as it will help us to adapt to this circuit and understand its peculiarities. During the summer break we made some changes to the car – as we usually do from race to race. So this round is going to be an excellent opportunity for us to test a few new parts and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into some good racing again!”
His team mate Mikhail Kozlovskiy added: “I’ve already learned the track visually and had a chance to walk and study the circuit on foot. I don’t think you can really compare it with any other circuits we’ve raced on in the first half of the WTCC season. It’s very wide and fast and all of the corners are quite quick. It looks like a typical motorbike track I suppose.
There’s a long straight, which goes on for more than a kilometre, and that definitely presents us with some good opportunities for slipstreaming. There’s still construction going on around the circuit infrastructure, which affects the surface as there is some dust and sand still on it. The local weather conditions and any wind will also have an effect on how the track cleans: we’ll just have to see how that impacts on the performance of the car. But I’m sure we’ll be able to cope with all these obstacles: it’s why we are here after all!”
LADA Sport LUKOIL