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Aug 03, 2014 - 06:34 AM
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Huff Takes Race Two Pole For LADA Sport LUKOIL in Argentina
Posted by: newsla on Aug 03, 2014 - 06:32 AM
Sports Cars
Huff Takes Race Two Pole For LADA Sport LUKOIL in Argentina


The tireless efforts of the LADA Sport LUKOIL FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) team finally paid dividends at Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina, where Rob Huff progressed through Qualifying 1 and achieved a season’s best tenth place overall to net a reversed grid pole position for Round 16 (2 August).

 

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A mammoth team effort to develop the LADA Granta Sport TC1 and improve the car’s handling and balance during the six-week mid-season break received high praise from all three LADA Sport LUKOIL drivers – Huff, James Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy – as the progress was undeniable from the very first turns of the wheel in free practice.

The LADA Granta WTCC challenger looked potent from the outset, with Huff, Thompson and Russia’s Koslovskiy all consistently running in and around the top ten places and posing a genuine threat to the Chevrolets and Hondas, previously out of reach.

The heat was quite literally on as qualifying developed in temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius and the LADA Sport LUKOIL team looked on at its drivers’ efforts to breach the top 12 and progress to Q2.

Kozlovskiy was the first to gall by the wayside, ending up 16th fastest with a less than optimal balance, and Thompson sat precariously in P12 just one thousandth of a second ahead of fellow Briton, Huff, who eventually grabbed 11th spot to relegate his teammate to the drop zone with a last-gasp flying lap. James will start both races from 13th place.

There was much anticipation in the LADA Sport LUKOIL camp as Q2 began, aware that pole position for the weekend’s second race, for which the top ten qualifiers are reversed, was a distinct possibility.

Huff, relying on his skill, waited until the final minutes of the session before embarking on a single hot lap that, to the delight of his team, was good enough for tenth place overall and pole position for race two on Sunday (3 August).

Emerging from his LADA Granta to applause from his mechanics, Huff posed with his team for some joyful TV interviews, saying: “I’m delighted for the guys because all the hard work they have put in has given us some reward. We know we are not the quickest yet, but we are going in the right direction and I can’t wait to pull my LADA Granta Sport onto the front row of the grid tomorrow!”

James Thompson was disappointed to miss out on Q2 by such a small margin, having shone for the duration of free practice. He said: “The car has really been great and I’ve enjoyed driving it very much this weekend. It’s a shame we didn’t make it into the second round of qualifying. I didn’t quite get the lap I needed but the LADA Granta was responding well and, with a bit more time, we would have been able to perfect the car.”

St Petersburg’s Kozlovskiy was upbeat for the team, but had struggled to get the best out of the car in qualifying. He concluded: “ I had handling issues and a vibration on the first run of qualifying and we made some changes that didn’t work for me.”

Sunday’s (3 August) races offer an exciting opportunity for the LADA Sport LUKOIL team, as it strives to turn its great qualifying result into a strong race finish.

Rounds 15 and 16 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at Autodromo Termas De Rio Hondo in Argentina can be seen live on Eurosport at 15:15 and 18:25 CET.


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