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LADA celebrates ‘strong’ home performance

LADA sport were celebrating their best-ever result in the World Touring Car Championship on Sunday, after lead driver James Thompson secured a fifth-placed finish in the opening race of the day.

The team’s weekend began on a strong note when Thompson placed his Granta Sport inside the top ten in Friday’s first test session. Thompson then followed this up with a top ten qualifying performance, earning him sixth on the grid for race one.

Sunday once again started positively for the team as Thompson set the fastest time in the morning warm-up for the second consecutive weekend. The Brit put in a fighting drive in race one to earn a fifth-placed finish for the team, whilst team-mate Mikhail Kozlovskiy came home in 16th, which became 14th after drivers ahead of him were penalised for false starts.

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In race two, however, Thompson was fighting for fourth when Tom Coronel made contact with Gabriele Tarquini, pitching the innocent Brit into the barriers on the exit of turn one and damaging his car.

“Despite the incident in the second race, I am happy with how the weekend has gone,” said Thompson. “It was a really strong performance on our home track: sixth in Q2, first in warm-up and fifth in race one. We have a lot of reasons to be feeling very happy and proud! We also really took the fight to the some of the top drivers in the second race and I’m really grateful to the whole team for all the work they have done.”

Thompson, 39, also praised the efforts of his young Russian team-mate Kozlovskiy.

“I would also like to thank Mikhail for his teamwork in Q1 when we used slipstreaming tactics: he was fast enough for me to make the very most of it. On the whole, Russia was a great event for us and I can’t wait for the next race in Portugal now.”

Kozlovskiy was also pleased with his performances, despite being forced to retire from the second race of the day with steering problems.

“Of course, it’s always nice to race at our home track, especially because it is such a prestigious circuit,” said Kozlovskiy, 23. “It’s a pity that I couldn’t finish the second race as I was able to make up some places and it was possible to get a decent result. But on the first lap I had a contact with one of the drivers and the front-right steering joint was broken. The car couldn’t turn left any more so I had to return to the pits.

“On a positive note, every race weekend has given me lots of valuable experience and the Race of Russia was very positive for the team: we showed some very good team-work in Q1 with James. We are also continually improving the car and the evolution of LADA Granta is obvious for all to see. I still believe that our best results lie ahead!”

Viktor Shapvalov praised his team’s efforts and was delighted to see his team mixing it with the more established WTCC outfits.

“These results can’t be down to luck alone – it’s the result of hard work from the engineers, mechanics and drivers,” added Shapovalov. “I am delighted that we have showed that the team and the car are able to fight in the top five with the strongest teams competing on the world stage. We’re feeling optimistic about the future.”

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