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James Thompson: ‘It’s really exciting’ to be back in the WTCC

James Thompson admits that he is excited to be back in the World Touring Car Championship for a one-off event in Slovakia, despite having not driven competitively in almost a year.

Thompson is a stand-in for René Münnich at his Münnich Motorsport team this weekend, with the Brit racing a Chevrolet Cruze for the first time.

Not only does the Brit have to acclimatise to a new car and team, but he has also not raced anything since being controversially dropped by the LADA team in Budapest in May 2015.

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“[I’ve been] hibernating a bit like a bear,” joked Thompson. “No, I’ve been at home relaxing so it’s nice to be here. I’ve not raced anything [in the past year] – it’s almost a full 12 months since I was last in the driver’s seat.”

Thompson showed promising pace at times on Saturday’s at the Slovakiaring, being fifth fastest in second free practice before ultimately qualifying in 15th position for both races.

“At least I can remember how to do it. I just need to brush a little rust off, drive the car and get a bit of confidence. That will come through the weekend but whether one weekend is enough to be back on your A-game would be unwise to predict, but it’s just nice to be driving the car.

“I had a smile on my face when I went out and I had a smile on my face when I went in, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

“There are a few things I need to change for my confidence just to make it a bit easier but that’s normal with any car you drive. I’d love to work through things but it’s the race weekend and you can’t do that. But it shows the enthusiasm is there and it’s just a really nice big thank you to the team to invite me to do the race. It’s really exciting.”

Thompson explained that he had only made the decision to accept the offer to race just over one week before the event was due to take place.

“We were on the balcony on Thursday last week,” explained Thompson. “Dominik [Greiner, Team Manager] rang me and after I put the phone down I had to take a few minutes because I’d just been asked to race again next weekend! I had to ring him back and I said “Dominik, 100 per cent I’m in”, so that was brilliant.

“The excitement was there. The team are a happy bunch, they’re working well and it’s a really good environment.

“If I’m lucky enough to be asked to do another round and they like what they see then great but if not we’ll take it as one race weekend that I’ve enjoyed doing, that’s the only way to go about it.”

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