TRICKY START FOR LADA SPORT IN VALENCIA The LADA Sport team from Russia, in only its debut season of the FIA World Touring Car Championship as a registered manufacturer, has got off to a challenging start on round five of the series in...
TRICKY START FOR LADA SPORT IN VALENCIA
The LADA Sport team from Russia, in only its debut season of the FIA World Touring Car Championship as a registered manufacturer, has got off to a challenging start on round five of the series in Valencia, Spain.
This round of the championship held lots of promise for LADA, as it marked the debut of a new engine designed to liberate around 20 more horsepower from the 2.0 litre powerplant.
However, various problems in qualifying today meant that the three factory drivers were not able to sample the new engine's full potential. With Valencia a favoured Formula 1 test venue being an extremely technical track, the LADA team now faces a major challenge during the two races tomorrow afternoon.
Dutchman Jaap van Lagen (n.18) has been at the forefront of LADA's campaign so far, but on this occasion he met with an early setback when his car experienced oil pressure problems during the first free practice session in the morning.
The team decided to change his car's engine, but the time needed to do this meant that the Dutchman missed the second free practice session. He came into qualifying this afternoon practically from a standing start, with it all to do. After an installation lap, van Lagen pitted to fit new tyres for his qualifying lap as usual but then the car refused to re-start. The problem forced him to abandon qualifying and consequently he will start last on the grid for race one tomorrow.
"It's frustrating as we don't really know where we are because we've had little track time," he said afterwards. "However, the only way is forwards from here and the experience we will gain from the races tomorrow is bound to be extremely useful."
Russian driver Kirill Ladygin (n.19) struggled with inexperience, as this was his first-ever visit to the Valencia circuit. After some incident-free practice laps, he found his LADA 110 overheating during qualifying and so was forced to back off. The Russian driver eventually qualified 25th.
"I suddenly found the water temperature rising more than usual," explained Ladygin. "I chose to back off in order not to cause any further damage. We will investigate the problem thoroughly tonight, and I am sure that we can come up with a solution for tomorrow."
Team principal and third driver Viktor Shapovalov (n.20) had no major problems and will line up 22nd on the grid for tomorrow's race one, which gets underway at 12:50.
"It's not been the best start, but we can all understand the reasons why," concluded the Russian. "After the last round in Pau just two weeks ago, we only had very limited testing with the new engine. The engines have come straight out here to Valencia, and we haven't had the chance to do the running that we need to test them. Effectively we are doing all of our development in public now, but it is through competition that the most valuable lessons are learned. We've certainly made a step forwards with power: now we need to work on reliability. I'm sure that we will come away from Valencia with a much clearer idea of what we need to do to continue making progress."