Lukoil has announced that it is to sponsor the LADA Sport programme in the 2013 World Touring Car Championship alongside Yvan Muller in the RML Chevrolet Cruze.
The Russian oil company heads into its third year in the WTCC, having sponsored the SEAT Leon’s driven by Gabriele Tarquini and Alexey Dudukalo for the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
2013 sees the company sponsor the LADA Sport programme, with the team running the LADA Granta car for drivers James Thompson and Dudukalo, with Thompson making a full time return to the series after two appearances in 2012.
“The new LADA Granta, it’s a logical development of 2012 car we testing at two rounds of WTCC championship. Over the winter, engineers had significantly developed car and engine. I’m sure, it’ll give us an opportunity to be fast and competitive,” explains Thompson, a four times race winner in the WTCC.
Dudukalo heads into his third campaign in the WTCC, having secured his maiden podium finish during the first race in Slovakia last April. Dudukalo secured the Russian Ice Racing title in a LADA Kalina while the Granta became a race winner in the Russian Touring Car Championship.
“The chance to drive the LADA Granta comes to me as a great honour, pride and responsibility, as I’m representing not only a brand with millions of supporters but a whole country,” adds Dudukalo.
“I’m familiar with Granta Sport; in 2012 I was driving car in similar specification in Russian touring car championship. There are some differences in suspension and engine but I’ll try to adapt to it during pre-season test session. We have a lot of work to do, before we can start to fight for podiums and wins but I’m sure we’ll get close to this goal during this season. Now my heart is with this team.”
Yvan Muller in the RML Chevrolet Cruze is the second part of the Lukoil World Touring Car Championship project. The triple Champion heads into his first campaign in the WTCC without a works drive but he feels that he has a chance to challenge for the title.
“After a long winter, I’m especially eager to start new season. We have a beautiful opportunity for LUKOIL and me to fight for the world champion title, even if competition will be difficult. There are again a lot of fast drivers and good teams this year in WTCC. Honda with their official programme is favourite. But we should be focused at 100% to be the first. See you in Monza,” Muller said.