Lada takes first steps in 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship The three-car Lada team has safely qualified for the opening race of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship: the first season for the Russian team as an official manufacturer...
Lada takes first steps in 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship
The three-car Lada team has safely qualified for the opening race of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship: the first season for the Russian team as an official manufacturer in the global series.
The 3 Lada 110 ready for action!
The first and second rounds of the FIA WTCC are held on the challenging Brazilian circuit of Curitiba: a bustling city with two million inhabitants south of Sao Paulo. The Curitiba track contains a wide variety of technical corners and flat-out straights, testing the performance of the cars to the utmost.
For Lada, the only Russian car manufacturer to be competing in world-class motorsport, the Curitiba adventure turned into a race against time before the start lights even went to green. With the new 2009-specification engines for the three cars only arriving in Brazil on Monday, the team had to work hard in order to be ready for the first practice sessions on Friday. These were vital to prepare for this afternoon's all-important qualifying session, which determined where the cars would start from on the grid for race one tomorrow. Nonetheless, as everything is still very new, Lada is treating the opening races as just a life-sized test for the challenging season ahead.
Dutch driver Jaap van Lagen (n.18) was quickest of the three red cars to place his Lada 110 2.0 in 20th spot on the grid for tomorrow's race one at 13:00 (local time). "This was actually pretty much where I expected to be," said van Lagen. "Thanks to the new engine our gap to the cars at the front has reduced slightly, but we still have a lot of work to do and plenty of ground to make up. That's the reason why we are here, as the lessons learned in competition are more valuable than those you find anywhere else. We're going to keep working hard with the aim of making decent progress throughout the season."
Russia's Kirill Ladygin (n.19) suffered a small setback when he went off into the tyre wall during the second free practice session this morning, but the Lada mechanics soon ensured that his car was back to full health for qualifying. He eventually qualified 23rd after a trouble-free run. "We lost a bit of track time with our excursion in the morning, but it shows we are trying!" he reported afterwards. "Bearing in mind that these races are more of a test for us than anything else, I just concentrated on doing a solid job during qualifying ."
Team leader Viktor Shapovalov (n.20), who is also from Russia, qualified in 24th. "We had a bit of a fuel pressure problem in the morning, but thankfully we were able to solve it in time for the qualifying session," he commented. "The car felt fine, but of course it's clear that we have a lot of work ahead of us in what is only our first full season as a registered manufacturer. We need to keep our expectations realistic and just focus on improving our performance step by step. But we also race because we enjoy it, and we all had a lot of fun driving the car today on this great track."
Following race one, the top eight finishers will be reversed to form the front of grid for race two. The cars that finished from ninth downwards will start race two in the order that they finished race one. The second race will take place at 16:00 (local time), with a crowd in the region of 50,000 expected to watch the action live throughout the day. Both races will take in 14 laps of the 3.695-kilometre Brazilian circuit, in warm temperatures that could well exceed 30 degrees Centigrade.