Valente hits out at Lada: "I'm not happy about their approach"
Hugo Valente has revealed he had already planned to leave the Lada WTCC team at the end of this season, as he was unhappy at the way the Russian manufacturer approached its racing.
The Frenchman showed strong pace in free practice at Losail before suspension failure in qualifying relegated him to 12th on the grid.
He was then an innocent party in the incident between Citroen’s Jose Maria Lopez and Honda’s Tiago Monteiro on the first lap of the first race, and then broke his suspension running wide at Turn 5 at the start of the second race.
Valente had been left without a drive after the team announced it would pull out of the championship at the end of this season, but he said this wouldn’t have made a difference in his case as he was unhappy with the team's modus operandi.
Both his teammates Nicky Catsburg and Gabriele Tarquini had agreed to continue racing for the manufacturer next year.
“I’d already decided to leave the team, as I’m not too happy about the way things work here,” said Valente.
“Nicky and Gabriele would go testing and I wouldn’t even know until later on. Anything the team wanted to try out, they would try on my car first and I’d lose a whole session if it didn’t work.
"Also, the ways things work here is different. I’ve come from Campos Racing, which is a Spanish team and they’re very passionate, while at Lada it’s very different.
"For example, [team principal] Viktor [Shapovalov] will go off for a three-hour bike run before qualifying, and I don’t see [Honda team principal Alessandro] Mariani doing that.”
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The 24-year-old also said he was not looking at other opportunities at present outside of the WTCC, with priorities in his life changing after the birth of his daughter in September.
“I’m lucky to have a father who’s successful and supports [my racing career]," Valente added. "But I’m nearly 25, I need to start to work for my own money.
"There are no drives here next year, and if Class 1 happens, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, all those guys have all their own drivers already and there won’t be any room for me.
"I don’t want to pay to race, so I think this will be my last race [in WTCC].”
Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes
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