The FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) Race of Russia will be a celebration of LADA’s 50th anniversary, and the LADA SPORT ROSNEFT team hopes to mark the occasion with some big results on home turf (11-12 June).
The WTCC’s fourth annual visit to Moscow Raceway officially sponsored by oil giant ROSNEFT and LADA SPORT brings the 2016 season to its halfway point, but the Russian event is particularly significant for being a major part of LADA’s own 50th anniversary festivities.
The Russian brand will take the opportunity to celebrate half a century of car production with its loyal fan base and supporters of the WTCC, who turn out en masse every year to witness LADA SPORT ROSNEFT do battle with the world’s greatest touring car teams.
A presence on the WTCC grid illustrates LADA SPORT’s ongoing commitment to improving its performance and creating a winning platform with the LADA Vesta TC1 racecar, while also increasing exposure of LADA’s expanding and revitalised range of road cars.
This unquenchable thirst for success has resulted in vastly improved performances; the team reached the podium on its last visit to Moscow Raceway and is now firmly established as a regular threat for top three results, but it’s widely acknowledged that success in the ROSNEFT-backed Race of Russia for drivers, Gabriele Tarquini, Hugo Valente and Nick Catsburg, would feel more like a championship win.
A lot of hope rests with Italian touring car veteran Tarquini, who has a strong record at Moscow Raceway, having finished second there in 2014 and third last year, with Dutch racer Catsburg shadowing him in fourth.
Tarquini said: I’m very excited to be racing in Russia with LADA SPORT ROSNEFT. I like Moscow Raceway and its balance of fast and slow corners. I like the first sector of the track, with the fast first corner and a very challenging downhill braking zone into Turn.4. It’s very difficult to find a braking point there and very easy to make mistakes. However, given my previous experience at this circuit, I feel confident that I can score good results in qualifying and the races.
Valente added: Moscow Raceway is an interesting circuit and it’s one of the best for overtaking. You have to adapt your driving and setup for the low-grip surface and I’m expecting this to be an interesting weekend for a number of reasons. Firstly, we have lost some weight and it will feel like a second home race, with so much LADA SPORT ROSNEFT support.
I think everybody in the team will have a little extra motivation to ensure all three cars perform well and I hope to see a lot of people in attendance. I really hope we can make the fans and sponsors happy and proud of LADA. I’m very much looking forward to Sunday’s races!
Catsburg said: Moscow Raceway is a nice and technical track that compliments a particular driving style in a front-wheel-drive car. The circuit layout is interesting, with some high-speed corners combined with challenging technical sections. I am looking forward to this one. There are some opportunities for overtaking and the best chance is definitely into the last corner after the long straight.
On my previous visits to Russia, I had a little bit of time to explore Moscow. Unfortunately, racing often means simply spending time between airports, hotel and the circuits, but I spent one and a half days near Red Square and got to explore what I found to be a beautiful city during last year’s Blancpain Endurance Series event. Of course, this being LADA SPORT ROSNEFT’s home event, I expect a lot of support from the Russian fans. I will do my best as always and hope for great result for LADA, its fans and sponsors.