Lada grab pole position on Vesta TC1 debut in Argentina WTCC
James Thompson take pole position for Race 2
A sensational track debut for the all new LADA Vesta TC1 challenger in the heat of the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina saw long time LADA Sport driver James Thompson take pole position for Race 2 in the resplendent yellow machine sponsored by the Russian oil giant Rosneft for the first time in 2015.
From the start of the weekend the LADA Sport Rosneft pit garage was filled with pride as the Russian manufacturer had pulled out all the stops and delivered not only two magnificent racing cars based on the soon to be launched Vesta flagship model, but a team that looked all the part a world class motor manufacturer, with the exceptional presentation of the team drawing plaudits from all in the pit lane.
As the cars took to the South American race track it was clear that the new Vesta was not only a cut above its predecessor Granta TC1 car but a match for all its WTCC racing rivals, setting competitive times from the outset of practice in the hands of returning drivers Rob Huff and James Thompson.
I am full of optimism for the races and season ahead based on what we have seen so far.
Hopes for a good qualifying result were cautiously optimistic, knowing that new cars take time to develop and rarely triumph on debut but for the duration of the first qualifying session that looked to be a possibility as Rob Huff, who took LADA SPORT's first race victories in 2014 delivered a scintillating lap to sit put the LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta proudly in P1. To add to the success James Thompson delivered his Vesta through to Q2 to join his compatriot.
It was from here that the drama unfolded. Huff, on another lap and 3 tenths up on his P1 effort from Q1 was halted in his tracks by a stoppage to the action when Moroccan Bennani deposited hos Citroen in the gravel. Sitting in 36 degrees of temperature the LADA Vesta was forced to wait for the track to be cleared and the session resumed. Immediately upon rejoining the track it was clear that a new car gremlin had appeared and Huffs rise was halted coming back to the pits slowly to start tomorrows two races from P11.
I know what we have for the future is a tremendous prospect...
But from the disappointment came joy as James Thompson positioned his Vesta to secure 10th position and the all important Race 2 pole position.
Emerging exhausted by his effort and the heat Thompson reflected on his first pole position since 2007 with his usual degree of measured optimism: “I am delighted to put the LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta on the pole position on its debut, it will be a proud moment when we line up for the start in front of the worlds eyes” said the Englishman. “I lacked the outright pace in my car that was displayed in Huffy’s as we are still working on a variety of teething problems to be expected with a brand new racing car but I am full of optimism for the races and season ahead based on what we have seen so far”.
Huff had a mixture of emotions to contend with “I haven’t felt this good about a race car I’ve driven since I won the WTCC World Championship (in 2012). We clearly had the pace and the LADA Sport Rosneft team have done a truly excellent job to design build and deliver this machine for me to drive. We could have been at the very front for race 1 if luck had stayed with us but I know what we have for the future is a tremendous prospect and I will start to deliver on this promise in the races tomorrow”.
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