Race Archive 2014
LADA Sport LUKOIL in the points as the WTCC gets rough in Russia
LADA Sport LUKOIL concluded rounds 11 and 12 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) with a hard earned point for a tenth place finish for Rob Huff driving his Granta WTCC car at the team’s home event, Moscow Raceway, in Russia.
The Russian team welcomed dignitaries from LADA to the racetrack, including Company President, Bo Anderson, who had enjoyed the experience of a Granta racecar in the hands of Rob Huff earlier in the day and then watched on as a highly combative pair of races took place in the heat of the Moscow day.
“Being a passenger in one of the Granta race cars was a fantastic experience for me,” said Mr. Andersson after having some laps with World Champion Rob Huff at the wheel of Russian Touring Granta. “I think that motorsport is very important for the car manufacturers. It helps us get extra attention to the LADA brand, expand customer audience and encourage all factory employees to feel emotionally involved in LADA’s racing history. Producing road versions of sports cars and making LADA cars faster, more dynamic and sport looking adds fresh meaning for LADA owners”.
The LADA Sport LUKOIL team knew they had a hard battle to move up from the qualifying positions of Saturday, but expectations were high that they could break into the points and put on a great show for the many guests, sponsors and fans looking on.
In the first of the day’s two 16 lap encounters, LADASport LUKOIL’S 2012 World Champion, Rob Huff, got a great start, passing the Chevrolets of Borkovic and Munnich and the Honda of Moroccan Bennani to put his LADA Granta into 11th place. In a frantic opening lap where cars were bumper-to-bumper jostling for positions, Huff saw his chance for further improvement and made a decisive move to the inside of Chevrolet driver and race two pole sitter, Valente, to move up to tenth.
Behind, home favorite Koslovskiy and experienced LADA driver Thompson made solid starts with Koslovskiy leading Thompson as the first lap concluded. Ahead it looked like an accident could happen at anytime with cars continuing to push each other hard making a great spectacle for the sizeable Russian crowd.
Huff was pushing his Granta car to the maximum and it responded well, showing that it could run alongside the TC1 rival manufacturers comfortably as he pressured in a battle for eighth spot with Coronel, Michelitz and Morbidelli whilst comfortably keeping Bennani’s Honda behind him.
A clash between Valente and Borkovic trying to keep pace with the Englishman in the Russian machine elevated the Koslovskiy/Thompson LADASport LUKOIL pairing behind and by mid-race, the team were looking strong in tenth, 13th and 15th. St Petersburg resident Koslovskiy was defending hard from the former F1 racer and previous WTCC race winner, Morbidelli, showing great composure and pace for his years and experience against the seasoned Italian professional. But with Morbidelli pushing the Russian hard, a small mistake cost dearly as Koslovskiy ran wide on the limit allowing Morbidelli and teammate Thompson through.
At the flag, Huff crossed the line tenth and in the points with Thompson 14th and Koslovskiy close behind in 15th.
Race two, Round 12 of the 2014 Championship, followed race one in close succession, another 16-lap sprint would prove to be move combative than the first for the LADASport LUKOIL team.
Things had looked positive for Huff, who had a clear slot on the grid in front of him where the Borkovic Chevrolet should had sat but failed to take up due to the damage sustained in the first race, so Huff looked at the rear of Championship leader Lopez’s Citroen instead. As the lights went green, disaster for Lopez as he stalled the car and Huff jinked right to avoid the stationary vehicle. Morbidelli behind, rammed Huff in the rear and then tangled with the two following Grantas as they attempted to negotiate the first few corners.
At one point, all three LADA drivers were together with Morbidelli pushing them into closer company, the inevitable contact pushed Koslovskiy into Thompson and the Russian was out of his home race. Huff fairing little better after the earlier contact struggled on, but the damage saw him retire to the pits mid-race whilst again on the cusp of some points.
Thompson, who brought his LADA Granta home fifth in last year’s Moscow event, put in a valiant performance, but again, with a car not in perfect shape, was credited with 12th place at the chequered flag.
Koslovskiy was understandably disappointed not to finish the Russian round of the FIA WTCC Championship, where he had looked to be on par with his teammates for most of the meeting, “I wanted to get a good result here and my car was working really well all weekend so I thought we had a good chance to deliver for the Russian fans. One small mistake in race one and the contact in race two took the chance away this time.”
Huff had clearly enjoyed his opening race, “Its great to get the LADA Granta into the points again. I raced as hard as I could here and think that showed, race two was disappointing as Morbidelli hit me so hard it was impossible to recover, I am sure there were more points to be had.”
Thompson said: “Finishing in both races is a small reward for the teams efforts I guess, but 12th place in the second race was hard fought and I am pleased to have avoided the retirement that effected Rob and Mikhail today.”
LADASport LUKOIL now move on to the final race of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Europe at the Belgian F1 venue of Spa Francorchamps on the 21st/22nd of June 2014 where they hope for more points in the Manufacturers’ Championship.