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Jun 22, 2014 - 07:05 AM
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Lada Take To Belgian Forest For WTCC Challenge At Spa-Francorchamps
Posted by: newsla on Jun 22, 2014 - 07:01 AM
Sports Cars
Lada Take To Belgian Forest For WTCC Challenge At Spa-Francorchamps


LADA Sport LUKOIL extracted the very best from their Granta Sport TC1s in free practice and qualifying ahead of Rounds 13 and 14 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) on Belgium’s globally renowned Spa-Francorchamps (21 June).

 

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2012 World Champion Huff impressed during the weekend’s opening practice session by setting the fourth quickest time through the first sector, which encompasses the iconic Eau Rogue corner.

Reaping the rewards of setup changes, Huff, James Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy noted a considerable difference in balance and handling with the Granta Sport TC1, especially through the demanding twisty sectors of the 4.35mile circuit.

Having been on the cusp of the top 12 for the duration of practice, LADA Sport LUKOIL went into qualifying hopeful of breaking into the Q2 top 12 shootout.

On initial runs, Huff and Thompson impressed and pushed their cars to the very limits through the Ardennes Forest and positioned themselves ninth and tenth respectively.

Despite having never raced at Spa-Francorchamps prior to this weekend, Kozlovskiy was quick to learn the iconic circuit and went 12th on his initial run, setting an impressive time of 2m27.923s.

Held under sunny conditions, the field continued to circulate the circuit, which entail laid down more rubber and allowed drivers to push their machinery to the very limits as all three LADA drivers returned to the track in a bid for a place in the second Q2 sesion.

Huff continued to impress by going nearly half a second quicker than his previous best and looked set to take part in the second part of the qualifying session, but a late fluster of laps from the rest of the field denied the Newmarket-domiciled driver and meant he finished the session 13th overall. Teammates Kozlovskiy and Thompson also improved on their previous bests and finished the session 15th and 16th respectively. But due to some penalties (Monteiro and Borkovic were demoted on the grid) Huff, Kozlovskiy and Thompson will start 12th, 14th and 15th respectively.

Huff will lead the LADA charge in tomorrow’s two races and lines-up ahead of five TC1 rivals, including Citroën Total WTCC’s Ma Qing Hua and two Chevrolets of Rene Munnich and Dusan Borkovic.

Huff said: “I think I did a perfect lap. We were down on straight-line speed here, and on a circuit where straight-line speed is pivotal to challenge at the front, we had no chance to improve from where we finished. But the car actually has a good balance and handling has improved, so we’ll have to see what tomorrow brings.”

Kozlovskiy said: "In the FP2 I faced some problems with the steering and we didn’t have enough time to repair it before Q session. So, we tried a compromise solution, and it was successful enough to show good pace in qualifying – it was my best lap time during the weekend here. Today I felt more confident at the track. I’ve already got used to it; my pre-event learning helped, when I used the simulator and on-board videos".

Thompson said: “In terms of driving it’s a fantastic circuit, it's nice to be here again. The car in qualifying was faster than in testing and FP sessions though the lack of top speed doesn’t’ let us to improve the lap time. But the race is always unpredictable, so we will try to get maximum from what we have”.

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