Solid points for Huff and Van Lagen in WTCC Race of Slovakia

22/06/15 Race Archive 2015

Solid points for Huff and Van Lagen in WTCC Race of Slovakia

British LADA SPORT ROSNEFT driver, Rob Huff, took a solid fourth position in the FIA World Touring Car Championship's (WTCC) Race of Slovakia at the Slovakia Ring near Bratislava (20-21 June), which was then backed up by an equally solid sixth place result for Jaap van Lagen. 

It's testament to the development of the LADA Vesta TC1 and the professionalism of the LADA SPORT ROSNEFT team that such results, which would have been met with jubilation in past years, are now expected and, following the podium successes of the WTCC's Race of Russia, the Togliatti-based team may well have expected further podiums in Slovakia.

In race one, Huff did well to hold on to fourth position while tussling with Gabriele Tarquini and Hugo Valente during a fraught start and the 2012 WTCC Champion enjoyed a fairly uneventful run thereafter, unable to challenge the leading Citroens but building and maintaining a small, but adequate gap to the chasing pack.

LADA’s Dutch pairing of van Lagen and Nicky Catsburg didn’t enjoy such a trouble-free race, as both retired to the pits mid-race with technical problems, the former having sustained light damage in a start-line collision with Tom Chilton.

The second race saw van Lagen start from pole position – the second time the Vesta TC1 has started from P1 in 2015 and a great advert for the all-new LADA Vesta road car, which will be launched in September of this year.

The Dutch LADA SPORT returnee got a reasonable start but those around him were quicker off the line and confusion caused by the stalled Citroen of Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua held up both Catsburg and Huff and allowed the other Citroens of Yvan Muller, Jose Maria Lopez and Sebastien Loeb to close in on and pass pole man, van Lagen.

The sight of van Lagen, Huff and Catsburg running line-astern towards the front of the pack in the World’s premier touring car championship was a a picture the manufacturer and racing team had been hoping for and was able to savour.

Sadly, a rogue warning light sent Catsburg to the pits for precautionary checks and Huff soon joined his Dutch counterpart, having sustained damage to his cooling system from an errant piece of debris, thrown up into his Vesta.

Unlike his teammates, van Lagen was untroubled and drove solidly to bring the LADA SPORT ROSNEFT car home in sixth position, his best result in the WTCC to date.

“The car was very good today,” said van Lagen. “It was very consistent and that gave me confidence to push. We lacked a little bit of ultimate speed and need to work on our starts, but we are in a good place.”

LADA SPORT ROSNEFT Team Principal, Victor Shapovalov, said: “We are at the midpoint of the season and we have come from a fresh start to scoring podiums with the LADA Vesta TC1 already and we have shown increased levels of performance again here this weekend with a fast, solid and consistent car. We will continue to push in this direction and I believe we can take the next step and reach the top of the podium by the end of the season.”

Huff was a little disappointed by his best fourth position, believing more was possible. He said: “A few weeks ago we would have been slapping each other on the back with a fourth place finish, but now we expect it and crave more. I’m sure we will get more in the races to come as the team and car continue to develop.”

The LADA SPORT ROSNEFT team now moves on to La Castellet in the South of France on the for the FIA World Touring Car Championship’s (WTCC) Race of France at Circuit Paul Ricard (27-28  June).