The lack of qualifying pace from the three LADA Vesta cars was one of the major surprises of an intense qualifying session at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo in Argentina.
All three of the factory cars of Hugo Valente, Nicky Catsburg and Gabriele Tarquini failed to make it beyond the first phase of qualifying for the first time this season and will start from positions thirteen to fifteen respectively for both races.
The result marked a major bump to earth after the team claimed a clean sweep across the weekend on home soil as Moscow Raceway just two rounds previously.
That outstanding result contributed to the 50 kilograms of compensation weight that the Vesta WTCC cars are carrying this weekend, which has certainly played a factor in the team’s relative lack of pace.
A frustrated Valente blamed the compensation weight and the surprising pace of the privateer RML-built Chevrolet Cruzes – all of which made it into Q2 or better – for his team’s poor showing, while Tarquini struggled to find pace after his car suffered an engine failure in the second practice session.
Underscoring the team’s woes was that Tarquini, Valente and Catsburg finished 3.3 seconds off the pace of the MAC3 winners Honda in the two-lap post-qualifying time trial.
Image via FIA WTCC Media