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Lada expects 'huge' step forward with new WTCC car

Lada boss Victor Shapovalov believes the company's 2015 Vesta World Touring Car Championship racer can provide "a huge step forward" for the Russian manufacturer over its outgoing Granta model.

Ahead of today's launch of the Vesta WTCC concept racer at the Moscow Motorshow, Shapovalov revealed that the car will be designed using state-of-the-art tools, aiming to "avoid the comprises" that affected the performance of this year's Granta TC1 car.

"At the moment it is just a concept car here, but the work has already started," said Shapovalov.

"Now we are using all our experience, and plan a broad cooperation with other companies to take Lada to a new level.

"For example, now we use a lot of CFD technology, something we haven't done before. We expect a huge step forward."

Lada Sport will continue to undertake the majority of the chassis work, and French motorsport specialists ORECA development of the engines, which are expected to be more competitive next year.

"The Granta was good under the previous regulations," explained Shapovalov. "But for the TC1 regulations it is now too narrow and too short, so there are too many compromises. The Vesta is on another level, and with it we can do everything properly."

Shapovalov confirmed tests of the Vesta are planned to begin around Christmas.

Lada's British drivers Rob Huff and James Thompson are confirmed for 2015 and share Shapovalov's positive expectations.

Thompson, who started his relationship with the Russian team back in 2009, is convinced podiums are achievable with new Vesta.

"We go into the 2015 season probably with more expectation than any other year," said Thompson. "The first step was our maiden podium, and this year we've achieved it.

"The next logical step will be to win a race. If we can win a race, moving step by step we want to win more consistently and ultimately the goal is to fight for the championship. Of course, it will take a little bit of time."

Third driver Mikhail Kozlovskiy will start all the remaining WTCC events of 2014 for Lada, but the Lukoil-backed driver is as yet unconfirmed for next season because of the team's title sponsor change to Russia largest oil company Rosneft.

Nevertheless, Shapovalov confirmed a three-car program with a Russian driver in 2015.

"I would like to continue with the current guys, but let's see," he said.

Aleksander Kabanovsky is editor of AUTOSPORT's Russian site

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