Volvo has officially announced it will join the V8 Supercars grid in 2014.
Following speculation last week Volvo Car Australia has today confirmed a partnership has been struck with Garry Rogers Motorsport and Polestar, the Volvo Car Group’s global performance and motorsport partner to form Volvo Polestar Racing, making the Victorian-based outfit a fully-backed factory team.
The announcement was made at the Australian launch of the Swedish brand’s road-going S60 Polestar sports sedan in Brisbane.
That same model will be used in the championship with the Swedish team producing a bespoke 5.0 litre V8 engine for the V8 Supercar campaign, believed to be a version of Volvo’s 4.4-litre Yamaha-developed B8444S engine.
GRM currently run two Holden Commodore VFs driven by Scott McLaughlin and Alexandre Prémat, but will terminate the limited deal with the Australian manufacturer at the end of the season.
Volvo Car Australia and Polestar will invest significant capital and resources into Garry Rogers Motorsport, who will produce and race two V8 Supercars based on the production S60 road car.
The boss of Volvo’s performance division Polestar, Christian Dahl, who was a guest of Garry Rogers Motorsport at the SKYCITY Triple Crown event in Darwin last weekend said of the announcement:
“We are very proud and excited to take on the V8 Supercars together with Volvo Car Australia and Garry Rogers Motorsport, a championship that has grown to become one of the most prestigious and competitive racing championships in the world.
“Polestar will do our absolute best to add Volvo knowledge, engineering and development strengths to the already competent team at Garry Rogers Motorsport.”
The agreement is the culmination of several months discussion between Volvo Car Australia, V8 Supercars and Garry Rogers Motorsport.
“For myself and all our staff and sponsors who have been with us for a considerable time, the opportunity to utilise the Car of the Future regulations to introduce Volvo to our category is certainly very exciting. And I know that if we continue to work hard it will also become very rewarding,” said team owner Rogers.
“The opportunity to align ourselves with Volvo, one of the world’s most recognised brands, and team up with Christian Dahl and Polestar, is first class.
“I am still a racer at heart and the big plus of this relationship that impressed me more than others manufacturers I had spoken to was the fact these people had done their homework on the Car of the Future rules and regulations, and could see the commercial opportunities that this offered.
“Most heartening of all, I am dealing with people who understand racing from an engineering perspective and the personal, day-to-day matters you need to have experienced to achieve success.”
Volvo is the second factory-backed manufacturer to enter V8 Supercars following the successful introduction of the Car of the Future program at the start of the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship season and its involvement is expected to take the number of marques on the grid to five in 2014, although Ford and AMG customer team Erebus Motorsport V8 who run three E63 AMG Mercedes are still to confirm their plans.
Volvo-supported S60 cars currently compete in the recently formed Swedish touring car championship – the TTA Racing Elite League and in the US-based Pirelli World Challenge series.
Volvo have previously competed in the Australian Touring Car Championship, winning the 1986 title with New Zealander Robbie Francevic, the first non-Australian to win the series crown, in a Volvo 240T for the Volvo Dealer Team. It also entered the Australian Super Touring championship in the late nineties, winning the 1998 AMP Bathurst 1000 for two-litre entries with Jim Richards and Swede Rickard Rydell behind the wheel and taking the Manufacturers’ Championship honours in 1999 with the Volvo S40.
Mark Skaife, chairman of the V8 Supercars Commission said of the announcement:
“We have stated on numerous occasions that the mass appeal of V8 Supercars at a domestic and global level would entice manufacturers from around the world.
“Volvo has a very proud heritage in motorsport in this country, dating back to the 1960s. Robbie Francevic won the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1986 in a Volvo 240T, breaking the stranglehold of the BMWs. His factory team-mate that year was John Bowe.
“People may also forget that two of Australia’s greatest ever drivers, Peter Brock and Jim Richards, were highly successful with Volvo.
“With Nissan and Mercedes-Benz AMG joining Ford and Holden on the grid this year, I am sure Volvo will become competitive very quickly, particularly under Garry’s leadership, in 2014.”
James Warburton, newly appointed CEO of V8 Supercars, added: “To have another prestigious brand like Volvo in our sport is a red letter day for V8 Supercars.
“The strength of V8 Supercars is such that global brands, not limited to car manufacturers, are becoming increasingly aware of and directly involved in the business.
“It is my vision to build V8 Supercars into one of the strongest brands in the world with the partners to match. That is the level of untapped potential I believe this sport has.
“I am extremely delighted to have Volvo in our sport and congratulate Garry and his team on becoming the official Volvo factory team in V8 Supercars.”