Jaap van Lagen said he expects a tough weekend for the LADA Sport team as the Russian manufacturer prepares to make its works debut in the World Touring Car Championship this weekend in Brazil.
After a season under the Russian Bears Motorsport banner last year, LADA will enter a works outfit this season with van Lagen, Kirill Ladygin and Viktor Shapovalov returning behind the wheel. The trio will kick-start the season using the same 110 models raced last season before switching to the new Priora model later in the year, with the car expected to debut at Brno.
However, faced with the challenge of taking the fight to the likes of SEAT, BMW and Chevrolet, van Lagen admitted that the season ahead won't be easy although he said the focus was on the team developing its car to make progress during the course of the year.
"It's absolutely fantastic to be here, but of course we have a tough weekend ahead,” he said. “Our priority now is to focus on the task in hand and to develop our equipment consistently and methodically throughout the season. I think we already start off from a good base and I'm just looking forward to the action."
Team-mate Shapovalov agreed that the team needs to keep its expectations in check going into the opening round of the year, with the man who also runs the team admitting that the first goal was to establish the LADA Sport team as a solid mid-field runner.
"There's been a real buzz around the opening round of this year's World Touring Car Championship, and we are all absolutely delighted to be part of it,” he said. “We need to keep our expectations realistic though, and through plenty of hard work we hope to put ourselves in a position where eventually we are comfortably able to run in the middle of the pack, providing a solid foundation from which to move forwards.
“I'm sure that we're all going to enjoy this weekend in Brazil tremendously, thanks also to the tremendous local support we have experienced today."