James Thompson to join LADA in WTCC Two-time British Touring Car Champion and established World Touring Car Championship race-winner James Thompson is to join LADA in the World Touring Car Championship 2009. The 35-year-old Englishman will make...
James Thompson to join LADA in WTCC
Two-time British Touring Car Champion and established World Touring Car Championship race-winner James Thompson is to join LADA in the World Touring Car Championship 2009. The 35-year-old Englishman will make his debut with the team in Oporto from July 3-5 and he will continue the WTCC campaign afterwards in Brands Hatch, his home event, followed by Okayama and Macau. Unfortunately the races in Oschersleben and Imola currently clash with commitments James has already made in the beginning of the year.
The signing of Thompson is a major coup for the LADA team, which will introduce its new Priora touring car in Portugal as well. Thompson's credentials are second to none, having taken 35 touring car race wins and 110 podiums during his distinguished career to date.
His most recent win in the World Touring Car Championship came in Italy last year, and Thompson is aiming to put his experience to good use as LADA begins to develop the new Priora. As part of the integration process, Thompson will be bringing his former engineer Marco Calovalo to the team.
"I'm very excited to be back in the World Touring Car Championship and I feel very privileged that LADA has asked me to be the first person to race their new car," said Thompson. "It's a great challenge to be involved in a new project like this from the beginning and I am looking forward to it very much."
Thompson had his first glimpse of the new Priora at the team's European base in Belgium earlier this week, but the Englishman admitted that there was still a long learning curve to tackle ahead. "We just have to take everything as it comes and make progress step by step," he added. "I have no particular expectations, so we will just have to see where we are in Oporto and take that as our starting point."
Thompson will take the place of Viktor Shapovalov in the driver line-up, who is stepping down from his driving role in order to concentrate on management.
"As we take the next step forwards, it's only right that I should focus fully on running the team," said Viktor Shapovalov, who has combined his management role with driving the third of the trio of LADAs to date. "I am sure that James will be a huge asset to the team, and we look forward to making the most of his extensive experience both now and into the future."
Thompson's team mates will be Dutch driver Jaap Van Lagen, in the number 18 car, and Russia's Kirill Ladygin, in LADA number 19.