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LADA aiming to bounce back to form in Japan

LADA is aiming to return to form in this weekend’s World Touring Car Championship races at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, after suffering a pair of point-less races last time out in Argentina.

The Russian team are expecting the Japanese circuit to suit the Vesta WTCC car, with the manufacturer having scored a podium finish at the circuit in 2015 when Rob Huff scored third in race two.

This year, Dutchman Nicky Catsburg is the leading LADA driver in the championship standings and he is expecting the car to be particularly strong in the first of the circuit’s four sectors.

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“Twin Ring Motegi is a nice flowing circuit with a lot of slow-to-medium speed corners where traction is important,” said Catsburg. “The last sector is very difficult because of the last corner – braking into the last corner is very tricky – but I think the LADA Vesta will be strongest in sector one. It depends a little bit on how much the ballast will affect us in Motegi.

“The best place for overtaking is probably in the first sector where you have a couple of big braking zones.”

Hugo Valente was the leading LADA driver in qualifying last time out in Argentina, but the Frenchman was once again on the receiving end of bad luck, failing to finish both races.

The 24-year-old is hoping to be able to replicate the podium finish he scored at the track last year, when he was at the wheel of an independent Chevrolet.

“I love Japan and I was happy to get on the podium at Twin Ring Motegi last year because the previous season I was second until I lost the position two laps from the end,” said Valente.

“Argentina was a frustrating weekend for me with two DNFs. Being the quickest LADA in qualifying was only a very small consolation so I am hoping for a better weekend in Japan. I am confident our pace will improve compared to what we saw in Argentina.”

Gabriele Tarquini was also able to score a podium finish at the track in 2015, albeit at the wheel of a Honda. He remains optimistic ahead of this weekend’s ninth round of the season.

“I think we could be successful in Japan,” added the experienced Italian. “The track suits the LADA Vesta and I like Twin Ring Motegi too; last year I finished third here in race one.

“Of course we will try to do our best to have more wins and podiums until the end of the season.”

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