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Thompson: New rules open doors for Lada
20 January 2014
James Thompson says he feels that new regulations in the World Touring Car Championship this season will give Lada the chance to make forward progress up the grid.
The Russian manufacturer re-joined the grid with a works team last year running the Granta Sport, but was unable to take the challenge to the likes of RML and Honda, with Thompson taking a best finish of fifth en-route to 14th in the championship standings.
Team-mate Mikhail Kozlovskiy failed to score, with a best finish of 13th.
For 2014, Lada expands to three cars having inked a deal with former champion Rob Huff to join its current driver pairing, while an updated version of the Granta Sport is set to start testing next month.
Speaking ahead of that testing programme, Thompson said he was confident that the rule change would help Lada even though the base car still has some disadvantages compared to its rivals on track.
“For us the new regulations represent an opportunity to make a significant step forward in narrowing the gap to our competitors,” he said. “We are now allowed much more freedom for suspension design, which was a real hindrance for us. But in saying that, we must produce the right solutions and this is why we tested components last year in preparation for 2014. We know they were a large step in the right direction.
“On the negative side we will still struggle with the overall wheelbase compared to the rest, but we look forward to the coming years and the new Priora for the next big step forward.”
Thompson added that the signing of Huff for 2014 was a sign of Lada's desire to succeed and said he was confident that the team would continue to develop during the year ahead.
“I don't think many people believe how close knit our small operation is, despite the language barriers,” he said. “We have worked together on and off, even in adversity, for quite a long time and it's been a privilege for me to be here from the very beginning.
“Now we are really starting to grow up and develop as a team, hence our expansion to three drivers, and welcoming a former world champion into our team is raising our stature once more.”
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