LADA TAKES BENEFIT FROM A LEARNING WEEKEND IN VALENCIA The LADA Sport team comes away from Valencia, round five of this year's FIA World Touring Car Championship, with some valuable lessons learned after running the team's new engine for the...
LADA TAKES BENEFIT FROM A LEARNING WEEKEND IN VALENCIA
The LADA Sport team comes away from Valencia, round five of this year's FIA World Touring Car Championship, with some valuable lessons learned after running the team's new engine for the first time. The new powerplant is designed to release another 20 horsepower from the 2.0 unit, in preparation for the all-new LADA Priora that is set to make its debut at Oporto in July.
Conditions were generally dry and warm throughout the Spanish weekend, with temperatures in the region of 27 degrees Centigrade but also some spots of rain throughout race day. Qualifying did not favour the Russian team, with Dutch driver Jaap van Lagen (n.18) lining up last on the grid after missing most of the qualifying session due to an electrical problem, which was easily solved in time for the race. His team mates Kirill Ladygin (n.19) and Viktor Shapovalov (n.20) from Russia claimed 24th and 22nd respectively.
All the LADA entries got off to a good start for race one at 12:50 in Valencia, which is Spain's third-largest city and a well-known Grand Prix testing venue. The Ladas all got off to a good start with Ladygin and Van Lagen already up to 15th and 16th respectively by the end of an incident-packed lap one. Van Lagen was then able to get past his team mate but on lap three he had to back off as he had oil on his front tyres that was causing plenty of understeer. The Dutchman came into the pits and was forced to call it a day when the Lada mechanics confirmed that there was an oil leak. Ladygin also hit problems when he saw his engine begin to overheat. He too came into the pits, where the mechanics removed a large piece of paper from the air inlet. With quite a lot of time lost, he elected to retire in order for the team to check that there had been no further engine damage. Shapovalov finished the race with no problems in 20th place.
"It was tricky, but we all understand that we are at the very beginning of the development curve," said Jaap van Lagen. "We started off well in the race and I could make up a few places. Then I felt the front sliding as if I had a puncture but when I came in I realised that we had a leak that was making oil come onto the tyres. There's certainly still a lot of work to do, but I'm very happy about the power from the engine and I believe that we can make some good progress in the future."
According to the usual FIA WTCC rules, the drivers started race two at 15:05 in the same positions as they finished race one, but with the top eight reversed. For LADA, the second race was all about testing, in order to establish what the problem had been with the engines in race one. Van Lagen again experienced similar difficulties and retired after three laps whereas Kirill Ladygin was able to finish the race in 24th.
"The issues we have had this weekend are frustrating, as when the car is running well we have a good pace," said the Russian. "We were able to keep up with many of the faster cars and that gives us plenty of hope for the future. Once we solve these teething problems, I'm sure we will be able to see more improvement."
Viktor Shapovalov, who combines his driving duties with running the LADA Sport team, was 21st at the end of race two, having experienced no problems once more. "We had so little testing after the previous race in Pau that it was clear from the beginning of this weekend that our emphasis would be on development for the future," he said. "We succeeded in our primary objective of putting a few more kilometres on the engine and learning more about it. We've now got some very clear ideas about how we can make further progress in the future. I think we can be happy with the speed of the car and the power we gained. But it's clear that we need to work harder on the reliability for the future."
The next round of the FIA WTCC, which will mark the farewell tour for the current LADA 110 2.0 touring car, takes place at the historic Brno circuit in the Czech Republic from June 20-21.