Hugo Valente admits that he is find his LADA Vesta World Touring Car Championship car ‘harder to drive’ than his previous steeds, as the Frenchman looks to score his first podium of the year in Argentina this weekend.
Whilst Valente has had a consistent start to his first year with LADA, scoring points in ten out of the 14 races so far, he has been out-performed by both team-mates Nicky Catsburg and Gabriele Tarquini, who have both scored podium finishes and race victories.
The Frenchman admits that he has found adapting to the Vesta WTCC car more difficult than he had anticipated, having spent two seasons racing a Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 car.
“After seven rounds I definitely feel more comfortable at the wheel of my LADA Vesta, although I find it much harder to drive than the car I had in previous seasons,” explained Valente. “It definitely makes me work more behind the wheel and should make me a better driver by the end of the year.
“I believe I’m getting there – I’ve been improving little by little on the past races.”
Heading to Termas de Río Hondo in Argentina, Valente doesn’t face a difficult task in improving on his results from previous years, having failed to finish any of the races at the circuit in the past two seasons.
And Valente has set himself high targets for the final five events of the season, as he admits that his first half season as a works driver has been below his own expectations.
“I’m looking forward being in Argentina again,” added Valente. “It has been a long time with no driving for me, but I’m excited to be on a racetrack again.
“There are a lot of positives for LADA to take from the first half of the season, but I expected better performances from myself and I really hope to improve in the rest of the races.
“I look forward to each round on the calendar, but especially Japan and Qatar, where we will have a night race. It makes it exciting for everyone in terms of the schedule and vision, but I also have very good memories from there last year.”
Valente is currently 11th overall in the drivers’ championship standings on 75 points, just five points away from breaking into the top ten.