LADA Sport LUKOIL drivers James Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy faced one of their biggest challenges of the year in qualifying at Shanghai: the 11th and penultimate round of this year’s FIA World Touring Car Championship. This demanding Chinese circuit, with a tricky and technical layout, was brand new for both LADA drivers. James Thompson qualified 14th, while his team mate Mikhail Kozlovskiy was 21st. Nonetheless, Thompson will actually start both races from 13th on the grid, due to a penalty for Volvo driver Ted Bjork. This does affect Mikhail’s starting position tomorrow.
James Thompson commented: “It was a good start to the weekend: we were fifth fastest in testing, which is encouraging. When it came to FP1 we were ninth and in FP2 we were fourth, so we can see that we’re able to improve the pace. But I have to say that I’m pretty disappointed by our performance in qualifying: the simply car wasn’t as quick as we expected, even though we were just a tenth of a second off the top 12. One of the big problems was that our new set of tyres didn’t allow us to improve in the way that we wanted. Now we’re analysing all the data carefully and hopefully we’ll have better pace tomorrow. So far it’s been a very good learning experience for next season, when we’ll be able to come back to this tricky circuit with a bit of prior knowledge, which is very important.
Mikhail Kozlovskiy added: “It was tough in the morning but at least we were able to improve in Q1. It still wasn’t enough though, as we wanted to qualify a bit higher up the grid to be honest. We managed to improve our lap times with the first two sets of tyres, but it wasn’t ideal with the third set. I was overtaking but then I get boxed in at the first series of corners, which cost me the chance to improve: even though thankfully we didn’t actually lose any time. But after all the running we completed yesterday and today, I feel a lot more comfortable at this very challenging track now.”
Both races will be broadcast live by Eurosport: Europe’s largest television channel. Race 1 begins at 15:30 (local time) tomorrow, with Race 2 at 16:15.