James Thompson went from 21st to 11th in the second race at Portimão, securing Lada’s best result of the season on the Granta’s last scheduled appearance of the season.
In race one, Thompson was running in 12th place before a drive shaft issue ended his race with two laps to go. With extra time required to repair the problem, the Lada Sport team took the car out of parc fermé which dropped him to the final row of the grid for race two, but the two-time British Touring Car champion worked his way forward to finish in 11th in the Lada’s fourth race.
“We started at the back, so to almost get up to a potential points scoring place is great, ” said Thompson to TouringCarTimes. ” The good thing was the pace was relatively good, we didn’t drop too far behind Tiago (Monteiro) and a couple of the others in that little battle.”
“The boys did well to get the power steering working somewhere near its optimum. There’s still a few things to iron out, but having showed potential when we arrived, it’s nice to actually have run a race distance. It’s the first time we’ve done more than four laps in a row, so I’m very encouraged, very pleased, I don’t think we could have expected any better than that.”
The Lada programme this year consists of just two appearances in Hungary and Portugal, and the team will now go on to work on the car ahead of a potential full assault on the 2013 World Touring Car Championship.
“The good thing is we’ve got time to get the car homologated and get all the other things and done and hopefully we’ll be ready for next year,” said Thompson.
On expectations on what Lada can do in the Championship should they return next season, Thompson said:
“I think it’d be foolish to predict too much, but the reality is you need to get into the top ten in qualifying every weekend. And if you do that you can fight for podiums with the reversed grid on certain tracks.”
“Of course the true way to look at it is you need to fight for podiums on pure pace, but when you’ve got three Chevrolets as well as some very well sorted SEATs that’s very difficult to do. So let’s say we need to be consistently in the top ten every time we roll out of the truck, and then from that point onwards it’s getting that extra little bit out of it.”