The LADA Sport Lukoil team have secured their best ever World Touring Car Championship qualifying result after 13 drivers were penalised which saw them promoted up the order.
Mikhail Kozlovskiy will line up 4th for round 9 of the season, having originally set the 14th fastest time in qualifying. For the young Russian driver, this marks his best WTCC start to date and the teams’ best qualifying result.
“There wasn’t one particular part of the track that was harder than any other: you have to be strong everywhere if you want a good result here,” explains Kozlovskiy.
“Overall, I would say that the balance of the car was good. Tomorrow it will be a question of finding the right compromise between top speed and managing the tyres. This is a circuit where you really have to be very careful with tyres. Luckily, this is also a track where you can overtake: there are a few good places for that.”
Team-mate James Thompson starts 8th for the opening race having originally finished 20th fastest. With his promotion up the order to 8th, this marks the best ever qualifying result for the LADA squad.
The British driver had shown his pace during the free practice sessions as he placed the #10 LADA Granta 10th but issues in qualifying meant that he was unable to replicate his free practice performance.
“In Free Practice One I was in the top 10 but in qualifying things didn’t quite go as we hoped, until everything changed this evening,” added Thompson.
“I had a throttle problem and that prevented us from putting in any quick laps. Looking on the positive side, it’s easy enough for those problems to be fixed and we’re starting from a much better position than we expected. The overtaking opportunities will really depend on the weather conditions but hopefully we’ll be able to come away with a decent result.”