LADA’s James Thompson says that he is happy with his performances in Japan, which saw him score his fourth top-six finish of the season in a pair of fiercely-fought races at Suzuka.
Thompson made it into Q2 for the seventh time in ten meetings so far in 2013, and qualified in 12th position after struggling to make an impression in the second part of qualifying. Nevertheless, the Brit fought his way through the field in the opening race to finish in sixth, just one position shy of equalling his best result of the season.
“Race 1 was fantastic: we had very good pace throughout the whole race and the track gave us some overtaking opportunities, so we had a good fight,” said Thompson. “You always have some really competitive guys in the top 10, so I had to be very defensive throughout the whole race and make sure that I kept the door closed to the drivers behind me, but in the end we managed to do that.
“We also experienced a few tricky moments, such as when several cars came together in front of me, and it was a tough job to avoid that. I’m definitely happy with the performance of the car, which felt very stable.”
After such a strong showing in race one, Thompson admits that race two was a disappointment after he was knocked out of a points position on the final lap of the race by Münnich Motorsport’s Marc Basseng. The German later received a time penalty for the incident, but it only elevated Thompson to 11th and a non-points finish.
“Race 2 was disappointing,” admitted Thompson. “I’d got up to ninth but just before the finish Marc Basseng, who was behind me, hit me from the back and so I went down to 12th. This really isn’t sporting behaviour at all, and the stewards have already had something to say about that.”
The two-time British Touring Car Champion added that he was looking forward to the next race in China in just over a month, where the long straights are expected to favour the LADA’s Oreca-built engine.
“Now we go to Shanghai, which is a really quick, and we’re all feeling very upbeat for the future,” concluded Thompson.