Race Archive 2015
Another milestone on the streets of Vila Real for LADA SPORT ROSNEFT
The sole Russian outfit in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), LADA SPORT ROSNEFT, delivered all three of its LADA Vesta TC1 to points-scoring positions in Round 15 of the 2015 season on the streets of Vila Real, Portugal, Jaap van Lagen, Nick Catsburg and Rob Huff crossing the line in eighth, ninth and tenth positions respectively.
The start is a crucial part of the street race format, as the narrowness of the circuits tend to make passing near impossible without the help of a mistake from a fellow competitor, and van Lagen and Catsburg both slipped back a spot while Huff made up a handful of places to run line-astern with his Dutch LADA SPORT teammates.
All three drivers drove faultlessly, not putting a wheel out of place to bring the cars home in eighth, ninth and tenth and achieve a triple points haul.
Round 16, the second race of the day, was not to be so rewarding for the LADA SPORT ROSNEFT team, as the Armco took its toll.
There were high hopes on the grid as the Vestas of van Lagen and Catsburg lined up third and fourth, while Huff again had to commence the race from a lowly 13th. The run to the first corner saw a dramatic tussle between the two Dutch LADA drivers and local favourite Tiago Monteiro, which resulted in a three-way squeeze and contact that sent the luckless Monteiro and van Lagen into the barriers.
Catsburg was able to carry on in third position, valiantly defending for six laps from the pressure of veteran touring car driver Gabrielle Tarquini until he ran wide and allowed the Italian Honda driver to make his move by forcing Catsburg to the escape road.
Unfortunately, worse was to come or the promising WTCC newcomer,, as, in an effort to regain places, he succumbed to the close proximity of the unforgiving barriers and suffered a heavy race-stopping collision, although the Dutchman was still sixth in the final classification.
Huff was left as the sole LADA and concluded a shortened race in ninth position for a double points-scoring weekend.
“I had a pretty quiet weekend compared to my usual outings," reflected Huff. “But, on a track where passing is close to impossible, I made several places over the two races and brought the car home without a scratch, so I have to be happy with that after our difficult qualifying.”
Van Lagen, pleased with his race one result, was disappointed not to get a shot at the podium in the second encounter, saying: “In the first race I got a slow start but was able to run smoothly and get a nice eighth place. I was able to pull a reasonable gap to my teammates behind and kept the car fresh for a race two podium attempt. Unfortunately, the accident with Tiago (Monteiro) prevented that, but it’s a narrow street track and these things happen. I shook hands with Tiago afterwards. It’s a shame for us both to have gone out.”
LADA SPORT ROSNEFT Team Principal, Victor Shapovalov, was left to assess the toll of a punishing weekend for his team and cars and said: “We have to see what needs to be done quickly as the cars are due to leave for the next round of the championship in Japan in a week and we had planned a series of tests and developments that may now need revising, although I was pleased that we had good pace on the whole."
The Twin Ring Motegi Circuit is the new host venue for the FIA World Touring Car Championship's Race of Japan and takes place after a summer recess (12-13 September).