Photo: Lada Sport Rosneft

Nicolas Lapierre replaces Jaap van Lagen at Lada Sport Rosneft

Nicolas Lapierre will replace Dutch driver Jaap van Lagen for the final four rounds of the World Touring Car Championship at Lada Sport Rosneft, becoming the sixth different driver to compete for the Russian manufacturer this season.

The 31-year-old French driver tested the team’s Vesta WTCC at the Paul Ricard circuit following the seventh round of the Championship back in June, where he joined the team’s regular drivers van Lagen, Nicky Catsburg and Rob Huff during the test.

Van Lagen was drafted in to the team at the Nürburgring, replacing James Thompson at the team after the British driver was dropped during the previous race weekend in Hungary. Van Lagen was making his WTCC return for the first time since 2009, scoring points on his return in the second race, after being caught in a tense battle with Münnich Motorsport’s Sabine Schmitz during the first race.

The Dutchman also picked up points in each subsequent race meeting, with a best finish of sixth in the second race at the Slovakiaring, and played a key role in securing a drive at the team for countryman Nicky Catsburg, who replaced Mikhail Kozlovskiy from the Moscow Raceway meeting.

“Driving the Lada Vesta TC1 in the FIA World Touring Car Championship is a very exciting challenge for me,” said Lapierre. “I have driven a lot of single-seaters and sportcars, but I’ve never been seated behind the wheel of a touring car. Turbo-engined, front-wheel-driven cars are new to me and I had a lot to learn when I initially stepped into the Vesta, but the Lada Sport Rosneft team helped me a lot. I will do my best to learn how to race in the WTCC as quickly as possible and I hope to be able to grab some serious points for Lada Sport Rosneft.”

Nicolas Lapierre, who also has a longstanding relationship with Lada’s technical partner ORECA, was the 2015 LMP2 class champion in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and a former Toyota factory driver in the World Endurance Championship, will make his WTCC debut at Twin Ring Motegi.

Lapierre will see out the year with the Russian manufacturer, with only two driver changes permitted in a season for full-time entrants under Article 48 of the FIA WTCC Sporting Regulations.