The factory LADA Sport team has confirmed the signing of James Thompson to spearhead its challenge with the new Priora from the next round of the World Touring Car Championship in Porto.
The British driver will give the car its WTCC debut in Portugal and will also contest the events at Brands Hatch, Okayama and Macau. Commitments already in place elsewhere will prevent Thompson from contesting the races at Oschersleben and Imola.
In a move that had been widely expected for some time, Thompson will take the place of Viktor Shapovalov in the driving line-up, with the Russian focusing his attention of his other role as team principal.
"As we take the next step forwards, it's only right that I should focus fully on running the team," he said. "I am sure that James will be a huge asset to the team, and we look forward to making the most of his extensive experience both now and into the future."
Thompson will be the only one of the three LADA drivers to use the Priora in Portugal and in Britain, with Jaap van Lagen and Kirill Ladygin moving over from the current 110 model for the Oschersleben event.
"I'm very excited to be back in the World Touring Car Championship and I feel very privileged that LADA has asked me to be the first person to race their new car," said Thompson. "It's a great challenge to be involved in a new project like this from the beginning and I am looking forward to it very much.
"We just have to take everything as it comes and make progress step by step. I have no particular expectations, so we will just have to see where we are in Oporto and take that as our starting point."