LADA ready for a new chapter after Czech Republic The LADA Sport team has bid farewell to the current LADA 110 2.0 touring car, which will be replaced by the new Priora model at the next round in Porto, Portugal. One example of the new car...
LADA ready for a new chapter after Czech Republic
The LADA Sport team has bid farewell to the current LADA 110 2.0 touring car, which will be replaced by the new Priora model at the next round in Porto, Portugal. One example of the new car will run in Portugal, alongside two of the existing cars. Rounds 11 and 12 of the series this weekend took place at the historic circuit of Brno in the Czech Republic, a fast and technical circuit that is a favourite of all the drivers.
As usual, the WTCC race weekend got underway with free practice and qualifying on Saturday, before two half-hour races on Sunday. Following some rain in the build-up to the races, race day itself was held in sunny conditions with light cloud. LADA came to Brno with several engine modifications that will also find their way onto the new car, but qualifying did not entirely go the team's way. As usual, the line-up consisted of Dutch driver Jaap Van Lagen (n.18), Russia's Kirill Ladygin (n.19) and team owner, as well as driver, Viktor Shapovalov (n.20).
Van Lagen was the highest LADA qualifier, lining up 22nd on the grid for race one. When the lights went to green, there was plenty of drama with a multi-car incident at the start, but Van Lagen survived the carnage to finish 14th, which under the World Touring Car Championship rules also formed his start position for race two. The second race proved to have also a good start for Van Lagen. Having run strongly in the early stages of the race the Dutchman found himself dropping back with understeer, possibly due to slow puncture on the left front. Eventually he finished 18th, having been forced to let his team mate Ladygin past him.
The Dutchman said: "One of the big things we saw this weekend once more is just how close and competitive the WTCC really is. Although we were towards the back, the times are not so different. This is the sort of series where just a small deficit can make a big difference, so we hope that the new car can help us close the gap to our rivals. These races in the Czech Republic were not easy for us, but together we are making progress."
Kirill Ladygin qualified in 24th place for race one on his Brno debut, making up six places to finish it in 15th place just behind his team mate despite also some understeer. This performance was made all the more impressive by the fact that the Russian arrived at the circuit late due to visa problems, missing the first free practice session. During the second race Ladygin adjusted the tyre pressures to partially cure the understeer problem, finishing 17th.
Kirill Ladygin commented: "The LADA 110 2.0 has served us well, so in some ways it is a little bit sad to see it go. On the other hand, we are all very excited about the future. The new Priora really represents the next chapter of our motorsport history, so we are all looking forward to driving it."
Viktor Shapovalov, one of LADA's most consistent finishers, had no major problems during free practice and qualifying. Having qualified 25th, he completed the train of Ladas in race one by finishing in 16th place behind Ladygin. He too complained of understeer, which also affected him in the second race where he finished 20th.
He concluded: "Brno was a tough race for us, but we managed to get all our cars to the finish without any incidents and we accumulated plenty more information, which will be absolutely vital for the future. It is a concern that we all experienced understeer, but we have to work on this to find a solution. Now we look forward to the next race and the appearance of our new car."
The next round of the World Touring Car Championship, and the debut of the new LADA Priora, will take place at the Oporto circuit in Portugal from July 4-5. The car's long-awaited launch will mark the start of a new development programme for LADA Sport, as the Russian company aims to make its mark in touring cars.