Lada gets off to colourful start in Brazil Lada has kicked off its debut season as a full manufacturer in the FIA World Touring Car Championship with a series of promotional appearances prior to the opening round in Curitiba, Brazil. Lada will...
Lada gets off to colourful start in Brazil
Lada has kicked off its debut season as a full manufacturer in the FIA World Touring Car Championship with a series of promotional appearances prior to the opening round in Curitiba, Brazil.
Lada will enter three cars this year, for Jaap Van Lagen, Kirill Ladygin and Viktor Shapovalov, on all 24 rounds of the prestigious World Touring Car Championship, which is broadcast live on Eurosport: Europe's biggest television channel.
The three Lada 110s will take to the track in anger for the first time this year on Saturday, at the qualifying session that will determine the grid for the first of two races on Sunday. Before then though, the Lada drivers had the chance to meet enthusiastic local fans at an autograph session in the centre of Curitiba on Thursday afternoon, prior to a press conference and championship presentation in the evening.
Brazil is one of the spiritual homes of motor racing, having produced a number of great champions in the past, and consequently the sport enjoys a huge following all over the country. A massive crowd flocked to the centre of Curitiba, which is south of Sao Paulo, in the afternoon to meet their heroes and ask for an autograph. Russian driver Kirill Ladygin, a two-time winner of the Lada Cup back in his homeland, was amongst the drivers who enjoyed meeting the local motorsport fans face to face.
"We received a fantastic welcome," reported the 30-year-old. "It was really nice to give something back to the fans that lend us so much support at every race. This was one of the best ways possible to start the season, and it's very exciting that we begin our career as a full works team in a country that has such a strong and proud tradition of motorsport."
In the evening, the distinctive red Lada 110 2.0 was displayed alongside the other contenders in the World Touring Car Championship, including marques such as BMW and reigning champions Seat, at a press conference on the outskirts of Curitiba, which is one of the biggest cities in the region with more than two million inhabitants.
The 32-year-old Dutchman Jaap Van Lagen represented Lada at the press conference, saying: "It's absolutely fantastic to be here, but of course we have a tough weekend ahead. Our priority now is to focus on the task in hand and to develop our equipment consistently and methodically throughout the season. I think we already start off from a good base and I'm just looking forward to the action."
Viktor Shapovalov, who runs the team as well as driving the number 20 Lada 110 2.0, concluded: "There's been a real buzz around the opening round of this year's World Touring Car Championship, and we are all absolutely delighted to be part of it. We need to keep our expectations realistic though, and through plenty of hard work we hope to put ourselves in a position where eventually we are comfortably able to run in the middle of the pack, providing a solid foundation from which to move forwards. I'm sure that we're all going to enjoy this weekend in Brazil tremendously, thanks also to the tremendous local support we have experienced today."
The three Lada 110s will qualify for race one between 16:00 and 16:35 (local time) on Saturday. Race one takes place at 13:05 on Sunday, and the results from this race (with the top eight finishers reversed) will determine the grid for race two, which gets underway at 16:05. Each race lasts a maximum of 30 minutes, and a crowd in the region of 50,000 people is expected at the Curitiba circuit on Sunday.