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Nicky Catsburg praises ‘crazy’ LADA progress

Nicky Catsburg has praised the development of the LADA Vesta over the past year, after the Dutchman scored a podium in the opening World Touring Car Championship race on the streets of Vila Real.

Having managed just top ten finishes at the event in 2015, despite carrying no compensation weight, Catsburg improved his results substantially in this year’s brace of races.

After qualifying in ninth position, despite carrying 70 kg of compensation weight, he was then able to score a podium result in the first race with third.

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Catsburg believes that the result and the circumstances show the progress that LADA have made in the past year, even though both of his team-mates failed to make an impact on the points in the Opening Race.

“After last year finished here with a heavy crash I am really pleased to finish both races and score another podium,” said Catsburg. “It’s crazy to think how much we struggled here last year compared to this year, the car has developed a lot.

“The races were tough with the temperatures being very high inside and outside the car and I was grateful that after some battles at the start with Tom Chilton in the Opening Race and Mehdi [Bennani] in the Main Race the laps were mostly uneventful.

“I was able to maintain a rhythm to get the car through to the finish without much trouble.”

LADA Team Principal Victor Shapovalov was also pleased to have an accident-free weekend for the team, who are planning to do further testing in the July break before the next event in Argentina in August.

“Today we can celebrate another trophy for the team and also celebrate that we still have cars to go testing with before the next round in Argentina,” said Shapovalov. “Nicky drove two very good clean races and the cars performed very well despite the heavy weight we carried from our victories in Moscow.”

The only other LADA driver to finish inside the points was Hugo Valente, who took ninth in the Main Race, having retired from the opener, due to a strong start from 13th on the grid.

Gabriele Tarquini struggled throughout the weekend and could only manage to point-less finishes in 12th and 13th respectively in the two races.

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