Thompson: We’ll be competitive in Slovakia

"So much progress and improvement"

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By Olivier Ferret

19 April 2013 - 11:34
Thompson: We'll be competitive in (...)

James Thompson will turn thirty-nine next Friday.

Twice winner of the British Touring Car Championship and the FIA European Touring Car Cup, third-placed in the 2007 FIA World Touring Car Championship, the Englishman is considered one of the fastest and most experienced touring car drivers worldwide.And yet he has not driven very much in the latest years...

He joined LADA Sport in 2009, to drive the Priora in its first WTCC appearances but the programme was placed in the fridge for two years and then restarted in 2012 for only a couple of events and with a new car, the Granta.

“When we started in 2009, it was hoped we would continue and develop the car over the coming years. And so it was disappointing for everyone when the programme was stopped. But I think that time made us stronger and better prepared for these years ahead now with the Granta. The team is strong and still growing as our competitiveness increases. I was quietly confident that our starting point would be much higher than ever before, because of these things. And confident we would surprise a lot of people.”

Last year and during last winter he team spent a lot of time in testing.

“So much progress and improvement from the Priora to the Granta, it’s a total evolution. Also the engine regulations have changed now with the 1.6 turbo, so naturally the car needs a slightly different mentality than before, as we have much more power and torque. I’m very pleased with our starting point, we have been in the top ten of every practice session and made Q2 on both occasions. That was the first goal, to be consistently competitive and not just a flash in the pan. Now we must improve our performance step by step which we most certainly can!”

Bad luck was the leitmotif for Thompson and LADA in the first two events of the season. Accidents caused by other drivers sidelined the Englishman in three races out of four.

“It’s just a shame we have been denied the opportunity to exploit our full potential so far, but that will change. I’m very hopeful and excited for the rest of the season and the developments we have planned to evolve the car mean we will become faster through the year, so at every race there is reason to look forward. From what I’ve seen of Slovakia Ring, it looks like an exciting challenge, with fast flowing sections. So I’m sure we can be competitive.”

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