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Gabriele Tarquini dedicates final LADA victory to team

Gabriele Tarquini has dedicated his victory in the opening World Touring Car Championship race in Qatar to his LADA team, as the Italian once again reiterated his disappointment at the manufacturer’s withdrawal.

Tarquini scored a dominant win in the first race of the evening at the Losail International Circuit, passing early leader Tom Chilton after the safety car restart on lap four and pulling away into the distance.

Thereafter it was relatively plain sailing for the Italian, who scored his 22nd victory in the WTCC with a five-second winning margin.

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“My car was very good, especially on the first few laps and I discovered this just after the start,” said Tarquini. “In the first few corners I felt my car was working very good and probably better than Tom’s.

“On the restart I got the chance. I was completely on the outside, he went a little too long and I used my chance. This was key for the victory because on this track, especially with the sand around the kerbs, it’s very, very difficult to follow another car.

“After that, it was quite an easy race. My pace was very good and at one point I had an eight-second advantage. Then I thought it was probably better to slow down a little bit…”

Tarquin dedicated his win to the LADA team, and re-emphasised his point about how he feels the marque is withdrawing from the championship too early, given the progress made in 2016 which has resulted in three race victories.

“I want to give this fantastic victory to all the guys who work night and day,” added Tarquini. “Everybody knew just before this race that they’ve got to stop. I want to send to all the LADA people in Russia this picture of the last race.

“We have a great car and great potential. The team has grown a lot and it’s really a shame they are stopping at this moment. I feel they have put all this experience and money they have spent during the last five years out the windows; this is not the way to do motorsport.

“Now we are closing the gap. We have a good car and a good team. It’s improving [all the time] and it’s really a shame they are stopping.

“I don’t speak about me but about the situation: the guys, the mechanics, the engineers, they put in all the effort to improve this car. We were working like a normal weekend here to try to improve the car and I want to freeze this picture with the last win.”

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