Fresh from the Slovakia podium, LADA SPORT ROSNEFT hopes to be celebrating top results in Rounds 5 and 6 of the 2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship at the Hungaroring (23-24 April) to reflect the successful revival of LADA road car sales in Hungary .
The Russian manufacturer outfit and its drivers Nick Catsburg, Gabriele Tarquini and Hugo Valente worked productively during a post-Race of Slovakia test at the Slovakia Ring on Monday (18 April) and it is hoped that a host of engineering solutions will help increase race performance during the forthcoming weekend at the Hungaroring.
There are still some 70,000 LADA cars on Hungarian roads from when the Central European nation was the Russian car maker’s biggest export market more than two decades ago.
Over one million cars were sold in Hungary and LADA made a welcome return to the market in December 2015, with its current range of cars that features new models like the Kalina, Granta and 4×4.
More than 500 orders have been placed by customers from 11 dealerships in the first three months of the year and LADA Auto Hungary expects to double its original sales targets for 2016, particularly following the local launch of the new Vesta in the third quarter.
The stellar on-track performances of the LADA Vesta TC1 since its competition debut at the start of 2015 are a testament to the car’s inherent sporting characteristics.
To date in 2016, Hugo Valente has translated a reversed grid pole into a fifth place result, Gabriele Tarquini has seen off stiff opposition to finish in the top four and Nick Catsburg followed a fifth place in France by qualifying on the front row and finishing third in the WTCC Race of Slovakia.
It is hoped that repeat performances from the LADA SPORT trio of drivers will go some way to inspiring Hungarian motorists ahead of the road-going Vesta’s launch in Hungary later this year.
Nick Catsburg said: A massive weight has been lifted after achieving my maiden WTCC podium in Slovakia and it demonstrates that I’m not only quick over a single lap, but I can also put a race together. With less pressure, I will try to do it again. I feel we made the most of the first two rounds, which presented a great opportunity to achieve great results.
However, the Race of Hungary is going to be very different due to a shift in the Balance of Performance. It won’t be horrible by any stretch of the imagination and I believe we can be well inside the top ten. I haven’t driven the LADA Vesta with weight on-board, so I have no idea how it will impact the car’s performance. Weight always makes you slower, but it might help the balance in some way.
Gabriele Tarquini said: The test in Slovakia on Monday (18 April) was about setup performance over a single lap and a race distance. All three cars ran without problems and with different run plans. I have raced at the Hungaroring many times, from when I was in Formula 1 between 1988 and 1992, but this year the asphalt will be totally new. Overtaking is always difficult and the best chance in a WTCC car is under braking for the first corner.
Hugo Valente added: We had a productive test in Slovakia, working on improving the LADA Vesta’s traction and solving the problem of tyre degradation. As for the Hungaroring, I really like the circuit. I was third in Race 1 and second in qualifying there last year and also was third in Race 2 two years ago and I hope to be competitive there with the LADA, although it won’t be so easy.
LADA SPORT ROSNEFT is a racing team, participating in the World Touring Car Championship since 2015 with specially designed LADA Vesta WTCC cars. The General Sponsor of the team is a global energy company Rosneft. Supporting the Russian team in the World Championship, Rosneft together with the leader of the Russian automotive industry LADA joined their efforts to promote Russian brands at the world markets.