Volvo has confirmed that it will return to the FIA World Touring Car Championship in 2016 as the series’ fourth official manufacturer, following a four-year absence from the championship.
The Swedish carmaker’s racing arm, now known as Polestar Cyan Racing, will field a pair of Volvo S60 Polestar TC1-specification cars (pictured above) with an as-yet unnamed driver line-up. The likely candidates for the seat would almost certainly be narrowed down to its existing Scandinavian Touring Car Championship drivers Thed Björk, Fredrik Ekblom and Robert Dahlgren.
The new S60 Polestar will be equipped with Volvo’s Drive-E 4-cylinder unit, producing up to 400bhp.
Rumours of Volvo’s return to the WTCC have persisted for some time, and rapidly gained momentum in recent weeks thanks to a series of teaser videos released on YouTube by Polestar. An unliveried S60 racer was also photographed conducting a private test session at the Mantorp Park circuit.
“We have chosen the WTCC as our global motorsport platform as it combines the cutting edge technology of our Volvo cars with exciting racing all over the world,” said Polestar’s Chief Operating Officer, Niels Müller.
“The championship enables us to further develop our technology and utilise development from the racing circuits directly to our products for performance oriented Volvo customers.”
Polestar has flirted with the WTCC before, running in selected events with a solo C30 homologated for the Swedish Touring Car Championship. It then joined the series full-time in 2011 with a single entry C30 – piloted by Dahlgren (pictured right) – equipped initially with a five-cylinder normally aspirated engine before upgrading mid-season as the new 1.6-litre turbo engine regulations came into force.
Volvo elected not to continue with the program, and made just one appearance since at the 2013 Race of China in Shanghai when it entered the car for four-time STCC champion Thed Björk.
Volvo will join Citroën, LADA and Honda as official manufacturer entries in the 2016 WTCC season, marking the first time four manufacturers have been on the grid since 2009 when SEAT, Chevrolet, BMW and LADA fielded entries.
The team will be headed by Polestar’s long-time CEO, Christian Dahl, who stressed that the outfit’s commitment to the WTCC was for the long-term.
“We have got respect for the task ahead of us that we take on with absolute commitment,” he said.
“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.”
Images via Polestar Cyan Racing