As the start of the season approaches, LADA is getting in tune for its WTCC comeback.
During an event that took place at Togliatti, where the AVTOVAZ factory and headquarters are based, the LADA Sport unveiled the new livery of the Granta car for the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship and launched the production of the Granta Sport road car.
Commenting on the WTCC programme, Artyom Fedosov, AVTOVAZ Vice-President for Sales and Marketing said: Motorsport is very important for AVTOVAZ. We are pleased to be part of WTCC together with some of the worlds best renowned automotive brands. Racing is an efficient marketing tool and we hope the participation in the World Championship will help us promote the LADA brand.
As for the Granta Sport road version of the WTCC racing car, it will be produced in 1000 units in 2013. It is powered by a 120bhp 1.6-litre engine and equipped with specially designed suspension and a racing look, with 16 alloy wheels.
Igor Komarov, AVTOVAZ President explained: This car is for people who love sport and prefer active, dynamic driving style. The engineers did a pretty good job, and I am sure the customers will enjoy driving the LADA Granta Sport.
ITS TESTING TIME FOR THE WTCC TEAMS
As the start of the 2013 is only two weeks away, with the championship kicking off at Monza on 24 March, a number of WTCC teams are
stretching their legs in shakedown and testing sessions.
More testing will happen next week at Monza, on 14 and 15 March. At least half a dozen of WTCC teams will take part, including Liqui Moly Team Engstler, Honda Racing Team JAS, Proteam Racing, ROAL Motorsport and Stefano DAstes new PB Racing.
RML AT SNETTERTON AND BRANDS HATCH
A few days after confirming the programme with two Chevrolet Cruze cars for Yvan Muller and Tom Chilton, the RML team made their first test sessions, Tuesday at Snetterton and yesterday at Brands Hatch.
It was the first time the car has run since the final race of 2012 in Macau, but despite only two hours at the wheel Muller was feeling positive: So that was winter testing it went quick! Thats the first time Ive sat in the car since Macau, but the news is I can still drive! The Cruze handles well and its great to be back behind the wheel. Despite limited running, we have a strong basis to work from and I hope we will keep some of that advantage.
For team-mate Chilton the testing programme was very much focused on adapting to his new surroundings with initial work at Snetterton targeting familiarisation.
He said: Its everything I thought it would be a very well put together car. The balance is very neutral, which makes it forgiving. At the moment I am trying to work out how I can play with the car to understand the handling and set up. Small changes on the Cruze can make big differences, which is a sign of a great chassis. The car has had so much development over the years and it feels good. Im really enjoying being out on track and I feel like I am moulding into the team well so far.
WIECHERS-SPORT AND ENGSTLER AT SLOVAKIA RING
German teams joined in a two-day test session at the Slovakia Ring.
Fredy Barth had his first test in the Wiechers-Sport BMW 320 TC, completing more than 450 kilometres.
Im happy with this first test. I was able to complete a fair amount of laps over the two days and we tried different setup options. I felt very comfortable at the wheel of the BMW 320 TC and with the team. Im very much looking forward to the seasons start at Monza, said the Swiss driver.
Charles Ng and team principal Franz Engstler drove the Liqui Moly Team Engstlers car. The team focused on experimenting different set up solutions. Engstler was also testing new Pagid brake pads that have been specifically designed for Monzas superfast racetrack.
As for Ng, he completed many laps and improved more than one second compared to his own qualifying lap time set in 2012.
ROAL MOTORSPORT AT ADRIA RACEWAY
Darryl OYoung made his first test with ROAL Motorsport at Adria International Raceway, completing more than 500 kilometres over two days at the wheel of the BMW 320 TC car.
Team principal Roberto Ravaglia commented: I was very pleased with Darryls approach to this first test. He proved to be a professional driver and it did not take much to him to get used to the car, which it was not granted as he had never been in a rear-wheel driven saloon car before. We have planned another test at Monza next week and I believe that, afterwards, Darryl will be in the position to fight for the Yokohama Trophy title from the beginning of the season.
OYoung said: I felt very comfortable in the car right from the first laps and my confidence grew throughout the two-day test. I had a full day of dry running and some laps in the rain, so we accomplished a lot. I worked well with Roberto and the boys at ROAL, and I’m already looking ahead to our test days next week. I feel ready for the first race meeting as I never had the chance to test before the start of the season in the past, so I’m already ahead compared to the last few years.
BAMBOO-ENGINEERING AT ROCKINGHAM
The bamboo-engineering team went to Rockingham Speedway where Alex MacDowall and James Nash had the opportunity to shake down their Chevrolet Cruze cars in the new livery.
The weather was rainy and the track wet, which prevented the two drivers from completing as many laps as they had planned. This was MacDowalls first test since last years unfortunate second race at Macau that ended with his Chevrolet hitting the barrier at the Mandarin bend after a contact with Yvan Muller.
As for Nash, this was the first time he drove the WTCC Chevrolet. Damp conditions meant he couldnt get a proper feel of handling but he was already very impressed with how the car feels.
PROTEAM RACING AT MAGIONE
Proteam Racing completed two days of testing at Magione with Mehdi Bennani at the wheel of the Italian teams BMW 320 TC car.
Team Principal Valmiro Presenzini commented: We have been lucky with the weather. We had two wonderful days that enabled us to complete an intensive programme. Mehdi ran for 400 kilometres without any technical issues. We tested new dampers and this resulted in setting our record lap time here at Magione.
Bennani echoed: I had not driven since Macau and it was nice to get back behind the wheel of a racing car. We have worked a lot on the set-up and I am pleased with the job done. I have the feeling that we are on the right way to improve the cars performance.
NIKA RACING JOIN WITH ONE CHEVROLET CRUZE
Earlier this week Swedish outfit NIKA Racing announced they will take part in the 2013 WTCC with one Chevrolet Cruze car; the name of the driver will be unveiled soon. The team spent the last few years running Chevrolet Swedens multiple title-winning programme in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship and in 2012 had joined the WTCC season-opener at Monza with Rickard Rydell who posted the fastest lap of Race 1 and fought for a podium result.
Nicklas Karlsson, Team Principal, said: This is a significant day in the history of NIKA Racing. Weve been working towards a WTCC campaign for a number of years mostly behind the scenes and todays announcement makes the dream come true. Following two highly successful seasons with Chevrolet in the STCC, we now feel ready to make this leap. We are fully aware that this is going to be an exceptionally tough challenge and we head into this season with humble mind, but our target is definitely to establish ourselves at this level in the longer term.