British World Touring Car Championship racers Rob Huff and James Thompson tested their new Lada Sport Lukoil car for the first time at Magny-Cours last week.
The French circuit has been a base for the Russian marque’s WTCC effort, and their star drivers were able to complete a full programme of development work on Thursday and Friday with the 2014-specification Granta, built to the championship’s new TC1 regulations.
Team principal and former WTCC racer Victor Shapovolov praised the work done by the squad to get the new car ready.
“The team did a great job to make a car in compliance with the WTCC’s new technical rules,” he said. “The Lada Granta TC1 is completely different to its predecessor – both in terms of new parts and elements and in terms of the whole approach to car building from the point of geometry.
“We widely used the experiences we gained during the previous season, but more flexible technical rules allowed us to make the car more competitive due to some innovative suspension development solutions. At the same time, the advantages of the Granta’s short wheelbase are still with us – in particular, its maneuverability.
“With the advent of the new regulations, we have been able to solve some problems we experienced in 2013, while retaining the core benefits of the base car. The new engine, made by Lada Sport Lukoil’s partner Oreca, gives the car even more potential. In particular, the acceleration at the corner exits has improved significantly.
“On the whole, the team is satisfied with the first shakedown. The primary objective was to ensure all of the car’s systems were working in harmony, given the enormously increased engine and braking performance. The initial runs confirmed that the team has managed to find the best balance of the car.”
Lada Sport Lukoil will conduct one more test before the start of the season, with Huff, Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy all in attendance. The team has revealed that the trio will race with the numbers 12, 11 and 14 respectively.