Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Volvo to make WTCC return in 2016

Volvo have announced that they will return to the FIA World Touring Car championship in 2016 with a pair of TC1-spec S60s ran by factory racing arm Polestar Cyan Racing.

The Swedish manufacturer, who last competed in the world championship in 2013 with a sole C30 entry for Thed Björk in Shanghai, has confirmed a multi-year commitment to the series and will become the fourth factory outfit in the championship after Citroën, Honda and Lada.

The announcement came on the 30th anniversary of Volvo's 1985 European Touring Car triumph with the 240 Turbo. After competing on home soil and in Australia in recent years, the four time Scandinavian Touring Car Championship winning team has been hard at work developing a new turbocharged car for their WTCC campaign. 

The S60 TC1 race car, built specifically for the WTCC, will be powered by a 400 bhp four-cylinder engine based on their own Drive-E unit and built to the current 1.6 litre WTCC specifications.

Despite extensive touring car experience, Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo chief executive officer Christian Dahl is not underestimating the challenge of returning to the world stage.

"We have got respect for the task ahead of us that we take on with absolute commitment," said Dahl. "This is a long-term effort and we have an extensive testing programme during the winter that will continue alongside our first WTCC season in 2016 that is all about learning."

Despite their 2011 evaluation season being their last full year in WTCC, Dahl says that the wheels have been in motion for a full-time return ever since.

"At the time we did the evaluation season the ownership at Volvo was changing, as well as the new regulations coming in, so we stopped that programme,” he said.

"Very soon after that, though, as early as 2013, we started looking back into a WTCC project and by May this year we were testing already. We wanted to come back, it was just a matter of things coming together at the right time."

The testing program for the new S60 TC1 is already underway with Volvo factory drivers Thed Björk, Fredrik Ekblom and Robert Dahlgren all completing laps behind the wheel of the new car at Mantorp Park in Sweden.

Dahlgren, who drove Volvo's C30 WTCC car in the 2011 evaluation year, has stated that he hopes to be considered for one of the two 2016 race seats.

"It would be a dream to be involved in the championship in 2016, because that’s what I’ve been longing for ever since I joined the Volvo family," said the Swede, who drove a Volvo V8 Supercar in the manufacturer's first season in the category last year. "I want to win that title. Hopefully I will be part of the line-up."

Although the last two seasons - since the introduction of the new TC1 regulations - have been dominated by Citroën and their C-Elysée, François Ribeiro, head of WTCC promoter Eurosport Events believes that it wont take long for Volvo to challenge.

"I think Volvo have the right setup to be competitive, as they design all the components under the same roof. I’m positive that because they spent the proper amount of time in designing and testing the car they will be competitive," he said.

"I am not saying it will be a winning car, but for sure they know what it takes to be competitive in the WTCC, I don’t think they underestimated it, and it’s the first step to be competitive. Volvo will make the level higher."

Images: Polestar Cyan Racing

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