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Jun 22, 2014 - 06:21 PM
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Russia's Kozlovskiy Leads The Lada Sport Lukoil Line-Up At Spa-Francorchamps
Posted by: newsla on Jun 22, 2014 - 06:21 PM
Sports Cars
Russia's Kozlovskiy Leads The Lada Sport Lukoil Line-Up At Spa-Francorchamps


Russia’s Mikhail Kozlovskiy grabbed the limelight in Rounds 13 and 14 of the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), when LADA Sport LUKOIL took on the daunting Circuit de Spa Francorchamps in the heart of Belgium’s Ardennes forest (21-22 June).

 

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The picturesque setting hides the secrets of a legendary 7km racetrack that incorporates some of the fiercest corners in world motorsport, including the world-renowed Eau Rouge – a left-right-left sweeper with blind summit.

Performances from young Russian and Spa debutant Mikhail Kozlovskiy grabbed the headlines for the Togliatti-based outfit as, for the first time this season, he outpaced his Champion teammates, Rob Huff and James Thompson, to lead the LADA Sport LUKOIL Granta challenge in both of the weekend’s nine-lap races.

While 14th and 12th-place results didn’t yield points, LADA Sport LUKOIL can be happy with Kozlovskiy’s showing, delivering results on the team’s commitment to young Russian driver development.

Huff’s weekend, on the other hand, was less enjoyable because while the Englishman outpaced his teammates to achieve a pair of 12th-place grid slots, he lost out in both races to the fast-starting Kozlovskiy.

Huff’s performance was something of a watershed moment, as it was the first time a LADA Granta TC1 had outqualified a Citroen C-Elysee – that of Ma Qing Hua – and the former World Champion battled hard to keep the Chinese driver at bay in Round 13, until he was rear-ended into a slide at Raidillon corner.

The Briton emerged from a trip through the gravel with damaged suspension and did well to finish the race 16th, with fellow countryman Thompson 17th.

Sunday’s second WTCC encounter saw Kozlovskiy and Huff go toe-to-toe once again during a frenetic first lap. The two LADA Sport LUKOIL contenders were fully committed to the fight, gently touching as they jockeyed for position.

Kozlovskiy had the upper hand in 12th and led the trio of LADA Grantas as the field crossed the line to complete lap one, and looked racy with the intention of pushing on after the main TC1 pack.

Huff followed his young Russian stablemate home in 13th, although Thompson had another uphill battle and came home in 15th. The Yorkshireman struggled with a lack of grip and was unable to show his and his car’s full potential, but continued pushing to the maximum to safely finish both WTCC rounds on Belgian soil.

Kozlovskiy said: “I am pleased with the weekend, as it was my first time here at Spa-Francorchamps and to beat my teammates is really satisfying. I particularly enjoyed race two, where I came out on top in a great battle with Rob (Huff) and managed a good fight with (Mehdi) Benani and (Rene) Munnich also.”

Huff added: “It has been a very challenging weekend and LADA Sport LUKOIL, my teammates and I all did our best throughout. The car had a great balance all weekend – the team has made progress in the development of the car, we were closer on time to the other TC1 cars than we expected and, in race two particularly, we stayed close to the main pack. Unfortunately, Ma (Qing Hua) running into the back of my Granta and breaking the suspension in the first race didn’t really help and I have to praise the mechanics for getting me to the grid for race two in double-quick time.”

Thompson concluded: “It’s hard for me to find good things to say about my race weekend, as 15th and 17th places are not where I want to be; as a double British Touring Car Champion I’ve proven myself to be a consistent frontrunner and that’s where I want to be with my LADA Sport team.“

LADA Sport LUKOIL now turns its attention to South America and Argentina’s Termas de Rio de Hondo circuit (2-3 August), as the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) heads into the first of the flyaway races in the concluding half of the 2014 season.


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