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LADA reflects on ‘mixed’ Sonoma weekend

The LADA Sport Lukoil team encountered a mixed weekend at the Sonoma Raceway, the venue for the ninth round of the 2013 World Touring Car Championship.

Neither the team nor drivers James Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy had raced at the California circuit before and prior to the event; the team had fears that the circuit wouldn’t suit their car.

For British driver Thompson, his weekend was mixed as he showed the potential of the LADA Granta with the second fastest time in morning warm up but this wasn’t reflected in race results as he finished 14th and 16th in the two races.

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“This was a difficult weekend that left us with mixed feelings,” explains Thompson. “On the one hand, we improved a lot compared to qualifying, and the warm-up session, where I was second overall, confirmed that. We improved our time over one lap but our race performance could have been better.

“And we were sometimes struggling with the tyres a bit as well. In the end though, we were fighting all the way and trying hard and we managed to put some strong competitors behind us. So that’s the positive side. But after a run of good weekends, when we’ve been consistently in the top 10 and twice in the top six, our expectations have grown, so from that point of view the Sonoma race was quite disappointing.

“Still, there have definitely been some highlights from the weekend and we’ve got a lot of information to prepare for next year now. I’m sure that next year we’ll come back to the USA much better prepared,” he added.

Team-mate Kozlovskiy had an encouraging weekend as he was battling with Thompson but incidents outside of his control saw him drop down the order. He brought the #8 LADA Granta home 19th and 18th in the two Sonoma races.

“Both races were very tough,” the Russian youngster said. “In Race 2 I managed to make a very good start and make up several positions. We were fighting with James and some of the other guys. But then Charles Ng cut Turn 2 in front of me and forced me to go wide. This was used by some of the drivers behind me to get past.

“After qualifying we changed a few things in the set-up and I could really feel the improvement but unfortunately we experienced some problems with the stability of the car during the race, and as I predicted yesterday, this affected our tyre wear. Hopefully the circuit in Japan will suit our car better,” he concluded.

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