LADA Sport Rosneft leave Argentina with many positives after tough race debut for the VESTA TC1
James Thompson: "There is much to be excited about with this new project, and over the weekend the LADA Sport Rosneft team showed some signs of what will be achieved."
In the world of motorsport you can be as prepared as is possible to deliver results and look every part ready to be world class but no level of preparation can account for the results of battles with other cars on the racetrack, and so it proved for the LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta cars on there completion debut in rounds 1 and 2 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Starting 10th and 11th on the grid for Round 1 in the extreme heat of the day at the Termas Rio De Hondo Autodromo, 1200 kms North West of Buenos Aires in Argentina Thompson and Huff, the experienced LADA Sport Rosneft pairing made clean starts and Huff was soon showing the Vesta’s pace moving through the field to gain 4 places in the first laps, whilst Thompson behind after a less combative start found himself in a tussle with an array of battling TC1 machinery.
The LADA Sport Rosneft team were tremendous this weekend, unfortunately the driving standards of some of our colleagues were not quite so impressive!
For Thompson the battle was a little too intense and having made a nice move to the inside of two cars was unceremoniously thumped in the rear quarter by the Chevrolet of Frenchman Philippe. The Vesta is a refined machine and the impact broke the rear suspension of the Russian built car and Thompson did well to three wheel the race car back to the pit garage.
Meanwhile Huff was chasing down and passing the Citroen of Mehdi Benanni and once past had the Moroccan doing all in his power, and a little beyond , to get on terms with the LADA Sport Rosneft car ahead.
Inevitably after a lap of trying the collision from behind came and in an almost identical fashion to Thompson, Huff suffered broken right suspension from the impact and so it was that both splendid yellow LADA Vestas sat on the pit apron whilst the race continued.
In the limited repair window the Russian LADA Sport Rosneft crew worked clinically to get the two cars back in shape as best was possible to allow Thompson to take up his pole position and the Vesta looked resplendent on debut at the front of the field. Huff however opted to use the additional working time to start the race from the pit lane.
Green light for the start of the race and the Vesta couldn’t capitalize on the pole opportunity, Thompson unable to get the start he needed to lead the field still suffering the effects of the Race 1 damage under the skin of the car. Huff too realized that the repairs were not sufficient to make progress so once again both Vestas sat side by side on the pit apron, their work done for the weekend until the next round of the FIA WTCC Championship in Marrakesh, Morocco in a months time.
Thompson reflected on his weekend “There is much to be excited about with this new project, and over the weekend the LADA Sport Rosneft team showed some signs of what will be achieved. We have to be realistic though that it will take time to bring everything together and when it happens we should be a force to be reckoned with”.
Huff “The LADA Sport Rosneft team were tremendous this weekend, unfortunately the driving standards of some of our colleagues were not quite so impressive! I feel sorry for the guys (LADA Sport Rosneft Team) as they have done a truly tremendous job on the Vesta but I am 100% sure that we will take the benefits from the great work in future races when we get to grips with the car”.
LADA Sport Rosneft Team Principle Victor Shapovalov “We came here without really having the benefit of race information and data on the new cars and were always treating the meeting as an extended test. We now have a better idea of where we are against our rivals and the news is good - the Vesta has the speed to be competitive, now we must work on the fine tuning and the reliability to make it into a contender when we take the grid in Marrakesh”.
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