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EXCLUSIVE James Thompson, '100 WTCC races' Q&A

25 June 2013

James Thompson celebrated his 100th race start in the FIA WTCC at the Salzburgring in Austria.

The experienced LADA Sport Lukoil racer, now 39, took time out from his commitments with the Russian car giants to speak to Dexter Fielding about his time in the premier touring car series...

Q:
How does it feel to have competed in over 100 FIA WTCC races?

James Thompson:
I'm very happy and proud to have competed in over 100 races driving many different cars, and winning a few races along the way.

Although not as successful as I would have liked, yet, I am confident that will change before the 200 comes up!

Q:
What has been your best WTCC moment?

James Thompson:
The whole 2007 season culminating in third place overall, as I was so proud of what we achieved against the odds with the Alfa-Romeo 156. It was a small but dedicated private team working at the highest level.

Q:
...and your Lowest WTCC moments?

James Thompson:
Sitting on the sidelines for a few years and watching my old friends and teammates lifting trophies.

Q:
Fiercest WTCC competitor that you have raced against?

James Thompson:
That is too tough to call. To be honest all the top guys give as good as they get, but also there is a lot of respect between the old guard.

Q:
Favorite WTCC circuit that you've raced at?

James Thompson:
I really love historical European circuits, like Monza, which still keep the memories of the past. It is always a pleasure to race at these circuits. When you drive at Monza, you really feel the unique atmosphere; you feel part of great motorsport history.

As for the city circuits I prefer Macau - this is a superfast track. It is also a tricky one, you need a few seasons to get used to it. Macau is a real challenge for racing drivers, but there you have a chance to master your driving skills.

Q:
Where is the series now compared to its inaugural race at Monza in 2005?

James Thompson:
I think the series is in very good health with many top international teams and drivers.

It has changed from its conception, with more private teams and fewer manufacturers but overall I think the quality of machinery and the level you need to operate to is much higher.

Q:
Will the new generation regulations help the series?

James Thompson:
I trust that that FIA and Eurosport know what's best for the series as it seems to be growing in stature and competitiveness. I suppose an evolution of the rules is due at some point to enhance the show.

Q:
How is LADA's progress going?

James Thompson:
We're always testing new technical solutions for the car and the car is improving from race to race, we are improving its overall speed and the reliability.

Each track gives us valuable information about the car's performance. We had some problems in Slovakia and Hungary when driving at circuits with longer corners, we also had some difficulties with finding a balance, but now the car is better, we've found proper solutions and almost managed to solve our issues.

In Moscow we were really strong – this is the result of all the changes made in the previous months.

Q:
What expectations do you and the team have for the rest of the season?

James Thompson:
We want to be consistently in the top-ten and fight with the front cars in every race but, we also feel strong enough to fight higher in the top-positions.

We are improving, It was obvious at Moscow in race one, where I finished fifth and in race two I was fighting for the rostrum. I was also the fastest in the Sunday morning warm-up session for two consecutive rounds – in Austria and in Russia. That really shows that the car is competitive.

I really feel happy to drive for LADA, I am pleased to be the first Granta driver who scored the points in such a strong championship as WTCC. I would like to be the first one to win a WTCC race at the wheel of LADA. I am sure this is possible in the future.

Q:
How is development going with the car for the new spec regulations?

James Thompson:
I can't give too much away but, we are working on the project and considering how to with the experience that we've gained during this year.

by Dexter Fielding


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