*Top international French racer to complete remainder of WTCC season with Russian team
*Strong test run convinced LADA bosses that Lapierre has what it takes to shine
Nicolas Lapierre will make his FIA World Touring Car Championship debut in Japan next month after signing for LADA Sport Rosneft for the remainder of 2015.
Lapierre, 31, will take over Jaap van Lagen’s Vesta TC1 starting with JVC KENWOOD WTCC Race of Japan at Twin Ring Motegi from 11-13 September.
The Frenchman will then contest the calendar-closing races in China, Thailand and Qatar when he will be expected to make a big impact in the new-for-2015 LADA.
Briton Rob Huff, the 2012 WTCC champion, and Dutch WTCC rookie Nicky Catsburg will complete the LADA line-up alongside the team’s new signing.
Lapierre is a winner in Formula 3, A1 GP, GP2 and the LMP2 class at the Le Mans 24 Hours earlier this year. He conducted a successful test for LADA at Circuit Paul Ricard in late June where he impressed with his technical feedback and pace behind the wheel.
And he’ll be no stranger to Japanese fans having raced for Toyota in the FIA World Endurance Championship in the past.
François Ribeiro, the WTCC General Manager, said: “It’s good news for LADA Sport Rosneft and for the WTCC to see Nicolas Lapierre on the grid.
His rich single-seater and sportscar technical background will surely help LADA and engineers at its technical partner Oreca to accelerate the development of the Vesta TC1, while everybody knows that Nicolas has the pace to steer the team in the right direction alongside Rob and Nick.
LADA’s decision to sign Nicolas is another example of its WTCC ambition and I think that the manufacturer will be rewarded.”
Lapierre added: “Driving the LADA Vesta TC1 in the FIA World Touring Car Championship is a very exciting challenge for me. 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.”