LADA’s new World Touring Car Championship challenger, the Vesta TC1, hit the track for the first time at Magny-Cours in France last week, with Rob Huff and James Thompson both getting behind the wheel.
Sporting the team’s new-for-2015 yellow livery, courtesy of title sponsorship from Rosneft, the team continued its pre-season development of the car.
Team Principal Viktor Shapovalov explained after the test that the team were happy with the new car’s performance, including vastly improved aerodynamics over the old Granta model.
“The new car fully meets our expectations for the fact that is boasts higher straight-line speeds, greater cornering stability and much-improved aerodynamics,” said Shapovalov of the marque’s third new WTCC car in as many years. “Of course, the team has a lot of work ahead of it – this is a totally new model which was built from scratch, and it requires much more testing.”
Once again LADA will be forced to complete testing and development of its new car as the season progresses, with the new season starting in less than three weeks.
“Unfortunately, due to the early season start this year we are time-restricted, and it’s obvious that tests will continue during the first WTCC rounds. The team has completed a huge bulk of the work over these two months and we are still working 24 hours a day to be prepared for the first race in Argentina.
“We are all highly motivated and, though the team started tests with a delay, we are ready to get into the fight on the track from the start of the season.”
The team’s lead driver, former champion Huff, believes that the new car is a significant step forward over the previous model.
“Having driven the new LADA Vesta TC1 there is no doubt that this is a proper racecar worthy of a proper effort in 2015,” said Huff. “It’s testament to LADA and what it is achieving as a car manufacturer that it can design and build a car of this quality in such a short space of time.
“Having won in the LADA Granta last year, we knew that we had to make a significant step forward to move to the next level and I believe this is the vehicle to take us there.”
Fellow Brit Thompson also acknowledged the aerodynamic improvements on the car, enthusing about the potential of the car.
“Visually, the new LADA Vesta is a huge step forward compared with last year’s Granta, even to the layperson,” said Thompson. “My first experience behind the wheel of the car confirmed that it drives as well as it looks and suggests we will have a very real opportunity to compete on par with our rival manufacturer teams, although the true potential of the VESTA will become evident over the course of the first few rounds.
“I’m genuinely excited about potentially having a car that can be pushed hard and one that’s significantly faster than its predecessor, even in its most basic trim. Ultimately, the Granta’s deficiencies have been overcome with good engineering and aerodynamics.”
Young Russian Kozlovskiy did not get to test the car himself last week but was present at the circuit to see the car on the track for the first time.
“I am eager to get a taste of the new car on the track,” said Kozlovskiy. “LADA Vesta was built in a very short period of time, and it proves the high professionalism of our team. The engineers created the car based on the two years’ experience with Granta WTCC model, and I believe that Vesta will have its say from the very first start.”