LADA’s Rob Huff says that the team are “gathering momentum” as the team head into the second half of the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) this weekend at Circuit Paul Ricard in France.
The Russian manufacturer scored their best-ever qualifying result last time out in Slovakia, with both Huff and Nicky Catsburg making it into Q3 for the first time.
Although Huff was unable to finish on the podium, fourth in race one was achieved on merit and raw pace, which combined with a strong performance at the event prior in Moscow means that the LADA Vesta carries 20 kg of compensation weight at Circuit Paul Ricard this weekend – the first time in the marque’s history.
“I’m undoubtedly looking to improve on the recent successes and I honestly feel we’re gathering momentum and the LADA Vesta TC1 is coming together nicely,” said Huff. “We’re in a good position. The podium I achieved at Moscow Raceway was amazing and then to achieve the team’s best ever qualifying result by getting all three cars into the top ten was just as remarkable and there’s a huge desire to keep that rolling.”
In 2014, at the wheel of the Granta WTCC, Huff took a strong fifth-place result, thanks to making up the majority of positions at the start of the race. With a stronger car this year in the Vesta, Huff is aiming even higher this time out.
“Of course, I drove from outside of the top ten to fifth position at Circuit Paul Ricard last year and, while that was under very different circumstances and in difficult conditions, I think the track’s fast, flowing nature will suit our car,” added Huff. “I really want to return to the winners’ rostrum in France!”
LADAs two Dutch drivers have differing views on the south of France circuit, with Nicky Catsburg praising the circuit, which he thinks will suit the LADA.
“I have been in Paul Ricard many times before as I participated here in Blancpain Endurance Series and GT races,” said Catsburg. “This is a really cool track and I think it will be good for the Vesta. There is a long straight which is probably not super good for us compared to Citroën, but we will do our best.
“I am really looking forward to the event, as the French fans are great and Circuit Paul Ricard always produces great races. The fans will have a good show!”
However Jaap van Lagen, who has raced on the track three times previously but not since 2006, believes the circuits has too much run-off area, which is characteristically marked by blue and red striped sections instead of gravel traps.
“The layout of the circuit is nice, but there are too many run-off areas,” explained Van Lagen. “I think the track will be good for the LADA Vesta and, having contested so many races in France, I know the fans are really nice and always give a warm welcome to the drivers, so I am looking forward to racing here.”