LADA SPORT ROSNEFT left the FIA WTCC Race of Argentina at Termas de Rio Hondo today (7th August 2016) empty handed and searching for the reason for a decrease in pace in a season that has delivered so much to date.
The remote Termas do Rio Hondo Autodromo has been a happy hunting ground for the team in past years with 2014 delivering their maiden podium finish and 2015 being the debut for the all new Lada Vesta model and going on to head the timesheets through practice on its racing debut.
The loss of pace was all the more unusual and unexplained given the good results achieved recently but demonstrates the level of an FIA World Championship where small margins in time will have bigger consequences and so it proved this weekend with the teams three Lada Vesta cars a small step back from the front running pace that saw the cars finish just out of the top ten.
Catsburg was the best placed of the teams drivers with a hard fought 13th (Opening race) and 12th place finishes (Main race) but failing to add to his World Championship points tally on this occasion
Actually I am quite happy because I think I am improving as a driver, my starts are getting really good and we improved the car a lot through the races. I think if I had started Main Race in say 5th position I could have held that pace so I am looking forward to Japan (the next round of the Championship) to try and recover the ground I lost this weekend.
Gabriele Tarquini (P14 and P13) did not enjoy the best of his WTCC championship weekends having played catch up with his car following an untimely need for an engine change in Free Practice I think we were better than our results really showed today, we had a bad qualifying and that put us to the back and from their its always hard. I think we probably had the pace for the top 10, ok not to fight for a podium this time but better than we showed.
Hugo Valente was disappointed with two DNF’s to show for his weekend’s efforts, which included being the quickest of the LADA SPORT ROSNEFT drivers in qualifying It was a frustrating weekend for me with being the quickest LADA in qualifying only a very small consolation. In the first race I was battling closely with Nicky having a nice battle but on lap 5 I had a loss of power and had to pit. In Main Race I hoped for better but a puncture (probably caused through contact with Demoustier’s Citroen) saw me once again have to retire from the race.
The words of Victor Shapovalov summed up the team’s weekend We really need to analyze this weekend in great detail. It is hard to understand exactly what it is, one thing or more that affects our pace. The track, the extra weight for sure and perhaps the top speed of others relative to the things that affected us amplified the difference in lap times. For sure we found some things as the weekend went on so we will take these forward and see how things are at the next tracks.
The FIA WTCC now once again crosses continents leaving South America for Asia and the Race of Japan at Twin Ring Motegi on the 3/4th September 2016.