BEST EVER RESULT FOR LADA SPORT IN MOROCCO! The Lada Sport team has clinched its best ever result with 12th place in race two at Marrakech: the third round of this year's FIA World Touring Car Championship. Russian driver Kirill Ladygin took...
BEST EVER RESULT FOR LADA SPORT IN MOROCCO!
The Lada Sport team has clinched its best ever result with 12th place in race two at Marrakech: the third round of this year's FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Russian driver Kirill Ladygin took the result for the team at the newly-built street circuit, which was making its FIA WTCC debut this year. Despite some extremely tricky conditions, caused by a narrow circuit with little run-off area, Ladygin steered clear of trouble to underline Lada's potential for the future. With a new car planned for the Porto round of the championship in the middle of the season, Lada's prospects for the year ahead are looking bright.
Flanked by 2500 concrete crash barriers, the Marrakech street circuit left no room for error. Qualifying on Saturday turned out to be tricky for everyone. The three Lada Sport cars driven by Jaap van Lagen (n.18), Kirill Ladygin (n.19) and Viktor Shapovalov (n.20) had mixed fortunes. Several cars got caught out by the traffic, including Shapovalov's Lada 110 2.0 -- which brought out the red flags after a spin. This unfortunately meant that van Lagen was not able to complete his flying lap, while Ladygin experienced no major problems to end up 22nd on the grid for race one.
Nonetheless, the pace of the entire team was underlined by Saturday morning's warm-up, in which van Lagen was 14th and Ladygin was 16th. This was despite the long straights of the Marrakech circuit, which did not ideally suit the current Lada 110 2.0 World Touring Car.
All the cars got off to a good start in race one, but van Lagen had no choice but to go straight on over a chicane when two cars in front of him touched. This earned him a drive-through penalty from which he struggled to recover, eventually finishing 20th. Ladygin enjoyed a steady race to finish 17th while Shapovalov was 22nd after clattering a tyre wall following some overheating problems with the brakes.
The grid for race two consisted of the finishing order of race one, with the top eight places reversed. van Lagen suffered bad luck once more when he picked up a puncture and some damage caused by somebody else's accident in front of him, while the Dutchman was running 16th after a great start. The Lada mechanics replaced the tyre and carried out bodywork repairs to his n.18 car during a safety car period, but the time lost was too much to recover but van Lagen still ended up 15th. Shapovalov was on course for a solid finish before sliding into a tyre wall at the end and being classified 18th. Lada Sport's hero though was Ladygin who avoided all the pitfalls of the Marrakech circuit to end up in a highly creditable 12th place despite a notable power deficit to the opposition: Lada Sport's best-ever WTCC result.
"I'm very pleased with this result and it is made all the more better by the fact I had to work for it: halfway through the race I lost my power steering!" said Ladygin, a Lada Cup champion back home in Russia. "I made it to the end but I was completely exhausted. It's been a very tricky weekend and this is one of the most difficult circuits I have ever raced on, particularly as we are still struggling for power compared to some of our rivals. It's been a great race with only one negative point: somebody actually stole one of my race overalls as a souvenir..."
van Lagen commented: "It was an unlucky weekend for me: I was never quite in the right place at the right time. In racing you always need a bit of luck as well and this weekend I just didn't have it. But it's clear that we are making some very useful progress with the car, which is pleasing to see."
Shapovalov, who is also the boss of the Russian Bears team as well as the driver of the n.20 Lada, concluded: "We've got mixed emotions at the end of this weekend. On the one hand, we're delighted with Kiril's 12th place: our best-ever finish in the WTCC. On the other hand, it's a shame that Jaap was handed a penalty and that we sustained some damage to his car. From my personal point of view it wasn't so good either. In the first race I was nearly out of brakes and then in race two I waited a bit too long before changing the brake balance. In the end I had too much bias to the front, so I locked up and went straight into the tyres. My mistake, but this happens sometimes in racing. The important thing for us at Lada is that the potential is clearly there for the future, so we are going to keep on working hard."
The next race in the FIA World Touring Car Championship is on another street circuit in Pau, France, from May 15 - 17.