James Thompson is confident Lada's new Granta Sport TC1 is 'significantly' faster than its predecessor and he also reckons it can be made faster still too.
Thompson has run with Lada now for the last three seasons taking a best finish of fifth in 2013 en-route to 14th in the championship standings. He is now hoping to be more competitive in 2014 and is hopeful the new rules in the WTCC will shake things up without spoiling the show.
“After the 2014-spec Granta's first shakedown in mid-March, the team struggled with some early teething problems that are inevitability when building a brand new car,” Thompson stated ahead of the WTCC season opener in Morocco this weekend.
“It's still too early to have an accurate impression of the car's competitiveness,” he added, “but what I can say is that the car is significantly faster than the old model, although it can be faster still and we are working on it.”
“The braking is markedly different to the previous year, as the aero is now a powerful tool. Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not Lada Sport Lukoil has an advantage – some of the team's chief competitors have very aggressive aero packages – but, maybe the car's relatively small dimensions will help in terms of top speed,” he continued.
“I would also like to reassure those motorsport fans who are afraid that the new aero packages will hinder the close racing the FIA WTCC is famous for. I have no doubts that the spectators will continue to be treated to some classic touring car battles, but at much faster speeds!”
Mikhail Kozlovskiy meanwhile also thinks the new Lada Granta Sport TC1 is an improvement: “The car has received more power, has improved dynamic abilities and the aerodynamics are much better due to a reduction in height and an increase in width,” he stated. “The car's balance is also better due to significant suspension improvements and the weight of the car was reduced by using more carbon fibre parts. I would like to thank all of the Lada Sport Lukoil team for the job it has done!”
“The first half of the season is going to be very tough though,” the Russian warned. “Only one week after Morocco's event, we will have an FIA WTCC round in France. It means the drivers have much responsibility to preserve the cars in Morocco, bringing them to the finish, as we say, "in one piece", because there will be no time to correct serious mistakes and repair heavy damage.”