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Apr 05, 2013 - 06:54 AM
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Two LADA Granta Cars To Take The Start In Marrakech
Posted by: newsla on Apr 05, 2013 - 06:54 AM
Sports Cars
Two LADA Granta Cars To Take The Start In Marrakech

The LADA Sport Lukoil Team comes to the second round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, held in the exotic Moroccan city of Marrakech, with renewed ambition and a fresh driver-line up. Russian driver Mikhail Kozlovskiy joins former British Touring Car Champion James Thompson behind the wheel of a LADA Granta for the first time.


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This weekend’s race will take place on a specially-designed street circuit close to the city centre. Since hosting a WTCC round for the first time in 2009, Marrakech has held a permanent place on the calendar, attracting an enthusiastic crowd of spectators. It’s also a race with royal connections: the patron of the event is none other than His Majesty King Mohammed VI. So from the very top down, there’s a huge interest and passion for motorsport in Morocco, which even used to host a grand prix up until 1958. LADA Sport last took part in the Moroccan WTCC round back in 2009, using the LADA 110. Now, four years later, the Russian manufacturer makes an eagerly-anticipated return with the Granta – which already demonstrated its potential at the previous round in Monza with a strong qualifying performance.

The Moulay El Hassan street circuit is located on the southern outskirts of Marrakech, with a track length totalling 4450 metres. The circuit layout consists of some long straights interspersed with an interesting variety of corners. The juxtaposition between the ancient architecture of the city and the ultra-modern WTCC cars never fails to make the Marrakech race a truly spectacular event, which is popular with fans – both who attend the event in person and watch the action live on Eurosport – all over the world.

James Thompson commented: “Marrakech is a really interesting circuit that is quite different to anywhere else. The only place that it has a few things in common with is Monza, because of all the long straights. Marrakech is a very quick track where you need good top speed, good acceleration and a car that is very strong and stable under braking. Having said that, I’ve never actually driven on this particular circuit, so this is just what I’m guessing from looking at the track layout. I think the Granta should be competitive. We already showed that we had plenty of speed in Monza, where we were consistently quick in the first sector of the lap, which is the fastest part of the circuit. So I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to put in a strong performance this weekend. The compact size of the Granta should also make it quick through the corners: it’s quite a nimble car and very good fun to chuck around the chicanes. The only downside of having a small car is that you sometimes lose a bit of high-speed stability, but that’s hopefully where the driver makes the difference. So it’s hard to tell if globally we will lose or gain because of all that, but we’re hoping that it translates into a good overall lap time.”

Mikhail Kozlovskiy added: “Of course I’m really looking forward to this weekend, as it’s my first time driving the LADA Granta in the WTCC. But it’s not all completely new to me, as I already drove a Granta in touring car races back home in Russia. There’s a lot to get used to with this particular specification of car though. It’s got a new engine and other systems that I have never worked with before, but I don’t think that this will cause me any problems: it’s just really exciting! I came to Marrakech several days before the race to study how exactly the car works and get used to the surroundings. On Friday afternoon, I finally get to drive it! By then, I will have hopefully understood a few basic things about the car. I’ve got some experience of driving on street circuits from the past, both in Russia and abroad, but Marrakech will be quite different I think. It’s definitely going to be the fastest of the street circuits I have experienced, thanks to all those long straights. Basically, from what I can see, the track is just a series of straights broken up by chicanes. So I’m feeling positive and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the Granta. It’s been nice to get to know all the team members, although actually I knew most people from before, so it’s a bit like coming home.”

Team principal Victor Shapovalov concluded: “After the unfortunate incident during qualifying at Monza, both our cars are now fully repaired. So we’re definitely ready for Marrakech, where we hope to be competitive. This is a fast track with many long straights, just like Monza. If we look back at our results from qualifying at Monza, they were very good with some promising times: especially in the first sector where the Granta was one of the quickest cars. This leads us to hope that the cars will be fast once more this weekend. So let’s wait and see what qualifying brings…”

Each of the two races that make up the WTCC weekend consists of 11 laps, with qualifying getting underway at 14:30 on Saturday 6 April (local time). The qualifying results will determine the grid positions for race one, which gets underway at 15:20 on Sunday 7 April. Race 2 is scheduled to start an hour later at 16:20. Both races will be shown live on Eurosport, Europe’s largest television channel.

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