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Points In The Puddles As Ladasport Lukoil Create A Splash In Slovakia
Posted by: newsla on May 11, 2014 - 06:08 PM
Sports Cars
Points In The Puddles As Ladasport Lukoil Create A Splash In Slovakia

Rounds seven and eight of the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the state of the art Slovakia Ring will be remembered as much for the weather as the racing as LADASport LUKOIL and their WTCC Comrades struggled in impossibly wet conditions that eventually brought an early end to the weekends racing.


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Inwardly the LADASport LUKOIL team had hoped for wet conditions, but the deluge that eventually brought race one to a premature end and caused the abandonment of race two was more than even the Russian manufacturer had hoped for as the rivers forming on the track made racing treacherous and more of a lottery for the drivers than a performance equalizer where talent could prevail over outright performance of the machines.

As the grid formed up for the first race of the afternoon, with Huff twelfth and team mate Thompson in fourteenth, the bad fortune continued for the Granta of Mikhail Koslovskiy as he was forced to return to the pits after his outlap with a smoking engine, which proved to be terminal.

Focus soon turned back to the track for the team as the lights went green and Huff made a great start propelling his LADA Granta into seventh place by the first corner. Thompson was less fortunate as his get away was compromised and found himself relegated to the rear of the pack.

By the end of the first lap, Huff was in a tussle with the works Honda Civics of Tarquini and Monteiro. Thompson had clawed back some lost ground bringing his Granta up to 16th place.

The rain continued to fall and Huff, having lost out to the Honda pairing to run in ninth spot, was regaining ground and mounting a strong challenge to retake the places lost as his tyres came up to temperature. Thompson, continuing his steady recovery had made it up to 14th, passing Moroccan driver Bennani’s Honda by the end of lap five.

Lap six and the rain was driving harder than the racers and the race officials were left with no alternative other than to deploy the safety car to neutralize the race.

Soon the track was physically under water and Huff, carrying the live feed intercom of the Europort broadcasters, was using his experience and communication link to relay to the officials the danger that was posed by the conditions. Thompson had himself demonstrated this by running off of the track on standing water and through the gravel removing large sections of bodywork from his Granta in the process.

As the race reached three quarter distance, the red flag was thrown and the cars returned to the safety of the pits and the race declared. Huff bringing home welcome points for the LADASport LUKOIL team for his ninth place finish.

Race two was due to start some four hours after the conclusion of race one and LADASport LUKOIL team members, drivers and WTCC officials kept an eye on the conditions for a sign of improvement that never materialised. A clap of thunder at the point when the race was due to start signified the end for the meeting and Round 8 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship was abandoned.

Rob Huff: “That was the right decision (cancelling the race) I think there was going to be a big accident of we had started in these conditions. Obviously I am disappointed on the one hand as we had a chance for another result inside the top ten but I am pleased just the same with the results in race one.”

James Thompson: “I don’t think anything positive would have come from running in these conditions for race two. Race one was difficult enough and I was pleased to recover to the finish we had.”

Mikhail Kozlovskiy: “The team have worked hard on my car for the last rounds but we have just not had much luck, I am looking forward to this week’s test programme so I can get some much needed laps under my belt and hope for a trouble free weekend next time out in Austria.”

The next outing for the LADASport LUKOIL team will be Rounds 9 and 10 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, which take place at the Salzburgring, Austria in two weeks time (24-25 May).

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