Nicolas Lapierre will replace Dutch driver Jaap van Lagen for the final four rounds of the World Touring Car Championship at Lada Sport, becoming the sixth different driver to compete for the Russian manufacturer this season.
The 31-year-old French driver tested the team’s Vesta WTCC at the Paul Ricard circuit following the seventh round of the championship back in June, joining regular drivers van Lagen, Nicky Catsburg and Rob Huff during the test.
Van Lagen was drafted in to the team at the Nürburgring, replacing James Thompson after the British driver had been dropped during the previous race weekend in Hungary.
The Dutchman, who made his WTCC return after a six-year absence, scored points in race two of his comeback round.
Van Lagen also picked up points in each subsequent race meeting, with a best finish of sixth in the second race at the Slovakiaring, and played a key role in securing a drive at the team for countryman Nicky Catsburg, who replaced Mikhail Kozlovskiy from the Moscow Raceway meeting onwards.
Lapierre, who also has a long-standing relationship with Lada's technical partner ORECA, was the 2015 LMP2 class champion in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and a former Toyota factory driver in the World Endurance Championship, will make his WTCC debut at Twin Ring Motegi.
"Driving the Lada Vesta TC1 in the FIA World Touring Car Championship is a very exciting challenge for me,” said Lapierre. "I have driven a lot of single-seaters and sportcars, but I’ve never been seated behind the wheel of a touring car.
"Turbo-engined, front-wheel-driven cars are new to me and I had a lot to learn when I initially stepped into the Vesta, but Lada helped me a lot. I will do my best to learn how to race in the WTCC as quickly as possible and I hope to be able to grab some serious points for Lada."
Lapierre will see out the year with the Russian manufacturer, with only two driver changes permitted in a season for full-time entrants under Article 48 of the FIA WTCC Sporting Regulations.