Former World Touring Car Championship driver Rickard Rydell will make a one-off return to the series. The Swedish driver will race for NIKA Racing at next month’s Race of China at the Shanghai International Circuit.
The five-time WTCC race-winner will drive the team’s Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T – previously piloted by Michel Nykjær, who lost his full-time drive when his funds ran out after the United States round.
The 46-year-old is a seasoned WTCC campaigner, having driven for Chevrolet and SEAT Sport between 2005-9.
His last WTCC outing came at the 2012 season-opener at Monza (pictured above), coincidentally with NIKA Racing. The team was making a one-off shakedown appearance for its Chevrolet Motorsport Sweden arm’s preparation of its Scandinavian Touring Car Championship title defence, which would see the team running the 1.6T Cruze model for the first time.
“We are extremely pleased, and proud, to resume our ties with Rickard Rydell – one of the fastest touring car drivers of the modern era,” NIKA Racing team principal Nicklas Karlsson said.
“He gave us our first championship title in 2011, and our two years together in the STCC effectively laid the foundations for our current WTCC programme.
“Today’s announcement has been made possible thanks to a very positive dialogue with our Swedish partners, and particularly by a number of export companies who have been of great support throughout these talks. Rickard hasn’t raced at all this season, but we are more than aware of his capabilities. He, if anyone, is up for this challenge.”
“It will be absolutely great to return to the WTCC, and to work with NIKA Racing again following two successful seasons together back home in Sweden,” Rydell added.
“I basically haven’t sat in a racing car since the STCC finale at Solvalla in 2012, and I’ve never driven at Shanghai – so I’m well-aware that this is going to be a big challenge. For that same reason, it will be of extra importance to do this with a team I know well, and in a car I’m familiar with from previous seasons.
“I’ve also worked with my engineer – Nigel – before, which will hopefully make things a little bit smoother. It’s difficult to know what to expect, but we at least have to aim for some strong points in both races. I will do everything I possibly can, and I truly look forward to getting back on track.”