MIXED FORTUNES FOR LADA AT PAU The LADA Sport team has had a weekend of mixed fortunes at Pau in the south of France, the fourth round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. Conditions on the well-known street circuit were dry and ...
MIXED FORTUNES FOR LADA AT PAU
The LADA Sport team has had a weekend of mixed fortunes at Pau in the south of France, the fourth round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Conditions on the well-known street circuit were dry and overcast for today's two races, but the respected track lived up to its fearsome reputation. With several hazards and no room for error, Pau is renowned as a massive challenge for teams and drivers.
The LADA team did a solid job in qualifying yesterday, but there was drama for Jaap van Lagen (n.18) who was hit by another competitor, giving the LADA mechanics plenty to do in preparation for today's two races.
Despite extensive bodywork damage to the rear of the car, LADA's technicians worked through the night and were able to ready van Lagen's car in time for the start of race one at 13:00. Sadly, they were not to be rewarded. The Dutchman experienced lots of understeer throughout the first race before retiring with broken power steering a few laps from the finish.
Russian driver Kirill Ladygin (n.18) suffered even worse luck in the opening race today. He made a mistake on the first lap and went off into Pau's unforgiving barriers, damaging the left-front and right-rear corners of his LADA 110 2.0 touring car quite heavily.
The saviour of the LADA Sport team in race one was team principal and driver Viktor Shapovalov (n.20) who brought his car home in 18th after a trouble-free race.
The team was hoping for much better luck in race two at 15:20, which was characterised by incident and drama -- including an accident involving the safety car! Several competitors succumbed to the challenge of the Pau circuit, but the LADAs managed to generally stay out of trouble and salvage a positive outcome from a tricky two days.
van Lagen had no problems at all in race two and finished 13th: the team's best result of the weekend. Ladygin was able to start race two thanks to more swift repair work from the LADA mechanics, but the Russian was ultimately forced to retire with a steering problem. Shapovalov was the only LADA driver to finish both races, backing up his earlier score with a 15th place in race two.
van Lagen commented: "It's been a difficult weekend for us but at least we finished it with a solid result. I couldn't understand what was happening in race one: I had understeer the whole time and in retrospect I think that there must have been power steering fluid leaking onto the tyres. Race two was much better as I had a really good feeling with the car and I was able to make some progress. This shows that we are definitely on the right road for the future. Most of all, I'd like to thank the mechanics for staying up all night and doing a fantastic job to rebuild my car after the accident in qualifying yesterday."
Ladygin reported: "After the high of Morocco, where I took the best-ever finish for a LADA, this was definitely a weekend to forget for me. I made a mistake in the first race that resulted in the car hitting the wall. There was nobody to blame other than myself. The accident also compromised my car in race two, as I did not have the same good feeling as before."
Shapovalov concluded: "This was clearly a very mixed weekend for us but we are learning all the time and Jaap's result in race two hints at our potential. Pau is always an incredibly challenging circuit: particularly for our mechanics who had a very busy time! I'd like to thank them personally for their hard work and dedication throughout the weekend, which enabled us all to start both races despite two significant impacts. Next week we have some important tests, so my priority was to save my car and get through both races without incidents, which I managed to do. My feeling with the car was very good and actually I really enjoyed myself. The learning curve at this level of motorsport is a very steep one, but by concentrating hard and making the most out of our testing opportunities, I hope that we can continue the clear progress we are currently making."
The next round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship takes place at the Spanish circuit of Valencia on May 30-31.