LADA HEADS FOR PAU WITH CONFIDENCE Following the heat and dust of the first ever FIA World Touring Car Championship race in Morocco two weeks ago, the series and the LADA Sport team now heads to the well-known street circuit of Pau, in the...
LADA HEADS FOR PAU WITH CONFIDENCE
Following the heat and dust of the first ever FIA World Touring Car Championship race in Morocco two weeks ago, the series and the LADA Sport team now heads to the well-known street circuit of Pau, in the south of France near the Spanish border for round four of the series.
LADA Sport achieved its best finish in Morocco, so the three-car team now heads to Pau in an upbeat mood. Once more, Russia's biggest car manufacturer is represented on the FIA WTCC by the usual line-up of Jaap van Lagen (n.18), Kirill Ladygin (n.19) and Viktor Shapovalov (n.20).
Ladygin finished finally 11th in race two at Marrakech, underlining the gradual but consistent improvement that LADA Sport has made since the start of the year, which is only the team's first full season in the FIA WTCC as a registered manufacturer.
The Pau circuit is the closest that the FIA WTCC comes to Monaco, both geographically and in spirit. Some drivers have even rated Pau as a bigger challenge than racing around the twisty streets of the glittering Principality.
Like all street circuits, Pau is characterised by extremely variable levels of grip. With the streets open to normal traffic throughout the year, the road surfaces are bumpy and rutted, calling for extremely good suspension travel on the cars. Furthermore, there are several slippery features on the road such as manhole covers and painted white lines to catch out the drivers.
Pau is also steeped in history: the race was originally held in 1901 and was the first motor race ever to be called a 'Grand Prix'. However, it has only been on the World Touring Car calendar for the last two years. The LADA team has had a busy couple of weeks since returning from Africa: after an incident-packed weekend the mechanics had to repair and rebuild a number of parts on the three Russian race cars.
The drivers will take to the track for the first time in Pau with two half-hour free practice sessions on Saturday morning, before qualifying on Saturday afternoon. Race one in Pau takes place at 13:00 (local time) on Sunday and is expected to last just over half an hour before race two gets underway at 15:20. As usual all the races will be broadcast live on Eurosport: Europe's largest television channel.
Dutch driver Jaap van Lagen is aiming to bounce back from an unlucky weekend in Morocco with a strong performance on the streets of Pau. "This circuit should be a lot of fun and maybe it could suit our car because it is not so much about straight line speed," he said. "I had some bad luck in Morocco so I am hoping that this time luck will be on my side. The good news is that the car is improving all the time, and it is clear that we are making consistent progress over the course of the season."
Russia's Kirill Ladygin commented: "I was very proud to score the best result for LADA in Morocco and I hope we can continue that successful form in Pau. However, once more we will be at a circuit where the other teams have more experience than us, so this is a handicap that we will have to learn to overcome. In particular, street circuits often have some very specific peculiarities, which take some getting used to. I'm very much looking forward to the weekend though: I think it should be a fascinating race."
Viktor Shapovalov drives the third Lada 110 2.0 but is also the team principal of the Russian squad. He concluded: "Marrakech was definitely a race of mixed fortunes for us, so that has led to a certain amount of work to re-prepare the cars. However, this is now all done so we are in a positive frame of mind heading to this next big challenge. Pau is bound to be one of the most difficult races of the year, with an impressive reputation, but as always we will be aiming to do our best and steadily improve the car over the course of the weekend."