Lada officially confirm exit from the WTCC for 2017 (updated)

Lada have confirmed that they will leave the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the end of this season at the Russian Motorsport Forum event at the Moscow Raceway today.

The decision was confirmed by Alexander Bredikhin, marketing director of AvtoVAZ, and the Russian manufacturer will shift its efforts to the Russian Circuit Racing series, continuing its partnership with title sponsor Rosneft.

Lada will build two versions of the Vesta model for the Russian series; a 320hp touring car class version and a 260hp super production version.

The Lada Sport WTCC team itself has said it will not be making an official statement about the abrupt end of their five-year programme, which will see the team race for the last time with drivers Gabriele Tarquini, Nicky Catsburg and Hugo Valente in two weeks’ time in Qatar.

The news means the WTCC will be down to two manufacturers next season, with Volvo and Honda both fielding works programmes.

“Manufacturers will always come and go in motorsport and the current period is definitely not an easy one for world championships in which car manufacturers are directly involved as factory teams,” said WTCC promoter François Ribeiro. “Even though Lada’s domestic market share is holding up with a new range of products, the Russian automotive market has declined by 50% over the last two years.

“The WTCC has certainly helped Lada to transform its image and positioning and we wish to thank them for their long-term support of the championship. Eurosport Events and the FIA are working intensively together on the future of the touring car category. Lada realigning its domestic motorsport activities won’t affect our motivation to deliver a great 2017 season which should be very open.”