LADA Sport LUKOIL FIA WTCC China race review

James Thompson claims another top 10 finish for LADA Sport LUKOIL in Shanghai

LADA Sport LUKOIL’s British ace, James Thompson, has racked up another top 10 finish for the Russian squad, thanks to a fighting eighth place in Race 1 at the Chinese round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. Thompson started from 13th on the grid and managed to battle his way up the field, providing the enthusiastic local crowd with plenty of entertainment. In Race 2, Thompson was forced to brake hard to avoid a crash that happened directly in front of him, which cost him several places. As a result, he finished Race 2 in 18th place.

Russian driver Mikhail Kozlovskiy started both races in 21st place on the grid with the other LADA Granta. He too was able to fight hard to make up places in Race 1 and finished 17th. Race 2 wasn’t quite so successful for Kozlovskiy on the challenging circuit, with the up-and-coming youngster eventually finishing 20th.

James Thompson said: “The team did a great job to sort out a few things in the car that had held us back during Q1 yesterday. As a result of their hard work, the car was much faster today. Going from 13th place to eighth, in tricky conditions, is proof of that. My race engineer Marco Calovolo also made exactly the right decision to use slicks rather than rain tyres, so we had a very good feeling with the car on the circuit today. It’s just a shame from our perspective though that the race was shortened for three laps because of the weather, because those three laps could have given us the chance to do even better. In the end, we were only two-tenths of a second off sixth place and two-thousandths of a second off seventh place: absolutely incredible, if you think about it! In Race 2 I was forced to go off the track to avoid the crash directly in front of me: there was nothing else I could do. And from there it was really just a question of bringing the car home safely because the track was still wet.”

Mikhail Kozlovskiy: “Our decision to choose the rain tyres was the wrong one, and already after just a few laps I didn’t feel confident. By the end of the race, the car was even harder to drive, so it wasn’t a good day. But at least I still managed to make up some places. Of course I wanted to overtake more cars but it was very difficult to find a place to pass, because the drivers in front of me were moving round to find the driest line. In the end I don’t think that the mistake with the tyre choice turned out to be crucial because I only really started losing pace when we were nearly at the finish. There was a lot of water in some of the corners, which meant that it became very difficult when accelerating out of them. But that was the same for everyone. In Race 2, we didn’t have as good a pace as we wanted. I think we didn’t get the set-up quite right: as the track was still wet, it was hard to know exactly what the best solution was.”