World Touring Car Championship returnees LADA have confirmed that they will shortly announce a partnership with Russian petroleum group Lukoil, who will serve as the carmaker’s naming rights and technical partner for the 2013 season.
Lukoil entered the 2011 championship as a sponsor for Gabriele Tarquini’s SUNRED-run entry, before expanding to a two-car ‘Lukoil Racing’ operation in 2012, with the Italian joined by Russian driver Aleksei Dudukalo.
Dudukalo will be announced in LADA’s expanded two-car line-up for 2013 as team-mate to the highly-rated James Thompson, who fronted an evaluation effort by LADA in the 2012 season at the rounds at Hungary and Portugal.
“We are very pleased and proud with Lukoil’s decision to support our WTCC programme. The whole team are very motivated and work flat out to develop competitive cars for our drivers. We are very excited looking forward to the start of the season,” LADA Sport team manager Viktor Shapovalov is quoted as saying.
Armed with an ORECA-built 1.6-litre turbo engine, LADA’s Granta Sport proved reasonably competitive out of the box with Thompson at the wheel, despite the Englishman failing to finish in the points in his four race outings.
However, the team has conducted further testing to develop and homologate the car ahead of the 2013 season, leading the team to believe that it will prove to be a competitive prospect next year.
“Testing said that the Granta is a fast car, with a powerful engine. We believe that Aleksei and James will be in the position to fight for top positions in every race,” Shapovalov added.