LADA HEADS FOR AFRICAN ADVENTURE The FIA World Touring Car Championship, where LADA Sport is represented as a registered manufacturer, heads to Africa for the first time this weekend, for the Marrakech Grand Prix in Morocco: round three of ...
LADA HEADS FOR AFRICAN ADVENTURE
The FIA World Touring Car Championship, where LADA Sport is represented as a registered manufacturer, heads to Africa for the first time this weekend, for the Marrakech Grand Prix in Morocco: round three of the series. This brand new street circuit will be an entirely novel experience for everybody, and this can only help the fledgling LADA Sport team, consisting of drivers Jaap Van Lagen (n.18), Kirill Ladygin (n.19) and Viktor Shapovalov (n.20).
Although the LADA Sport team has a lot to learn, it has already shown plenty of potential for the future. With a new car scheduled for July's Porto round, LADA Sport is looking forward to some exciting times ahead.
The all-new Marrakech circuit is 4.6-kilometres long and located just to the south of the Medina, Marrakech's historical centre. Unusually for a street circuit there are some quite long straights and fast corners, with just one hairpin bend close to the paddock beside the Royal Garden. This makes Marrakech a power circuit, which may not be ideally suited to the current LADA 110 2.0's characteristics.
However, some recent engine evolutions have aimed to bridge the gap to the opposition, and with none of the other drivers having previous experience of the new circuit LADA Sport is hoping to capitalise upon a level playing field. Under this year's success ballast rules, the LADA Sport cars will also be running 20 kilograms lighter than some of their rivals.
The drivers will get their first taste of the new street circuit, which is lined with more than 2500 concrete impact blocks and debris panels, with a 30-minute test on Friday 1 May, before the two half-hour free practice sessions on Saturday morning. Qualifying takes place between 15:00 and 15:30 on Saturday afternoon for race one, with the grid for race two determined by the result of the opening race. The top eight race one finishers however are reversed on the grid for race two, guaranteeing a thrilling spectacle and giving as many teams as possible the chance to taste success.
Race one in Marrakech takes place at 13:00 (local time) on Sunday 3 May and is expected to last half an hour. The drivers and teams then have just a 45-minute break before race two begins at 14:15. As usual all the races will be broadcast live on Eurosport: Europe's largest television channel.
Dutch driver Jaap Van Lagen, who has been at the forefront of LADA's campaign so far this year, said: "This should be a new experience for everyone! It's really hard to know what to expect, although realistically I think we will still be at a disadvantage down the long straights as we are lacking in top speed compared to our rivals. Anything can happen on a street circuit like this though, so we will be trying our hardest and looking to take full advantage of any opportunities that come our way."
Russia's Kirill Ladygin added: "It's nice to go somewhere completely new as it means that nobody has more experience than us, which is something that we struggled with at the first two rounds of the season in South America. I think this circuit should be a lot of fun but it will be important not to make any mistakes: if you go off I do not imagine there will be many nice big run-off areas and gravel traps! So the key is to be clean and precise."
His compatriot and team principal Viktor Shapovalov also drives the third LADA 110 2.0 as part of the eye-catching Russian squad. He said: "It's going to be a very exciting weekend: I'm going to be interested to see how much effect our latest engine evolutions and a little less weight has on the car. I think this weekend will be a big challenge for the entire LADA Sport team as well as just the drivers: we don't have much practice time before qualifying so we will have to get used to this new circuit very quickly. With such a short gap between races there will be no room for error, so reliability will be an important factor as well."