Volvo to enter 2003 FIA European Touring Car Championship
Italy-based team ART Engineering will campaign two Volvo S60 cars in the 2003 FIA European Touring Car Championship for Rickard Rydell and Sandro Sardelli. After negotiations that started last October, when Volvo Motorsport announced the decision to withdraw their factory backed team, the Swedish Manufacturer and ART Engineering found an agreement to keep two Volvo S60s in the FIA ETCC.
The cars will be leased to the team, which is based in Northern Italy, in the classic motorsport environment between Modena and Maranello. Founded in 1988 by Paolo and Alessandro Alessandrini, the team boasts an impressive CV in rallying, woking closely with Lancia and Subaru. ART Engineering won the 1991 European Championship with Piero Liatti, plus a number of international events, including the Italian round of the 1995 World Rally Championship. In the latest years the team switched to circuit racing, running two Porsches in the FIA GT Championship.
The drivers signed for the new programme are Swedish Touring Car ace Rickard Rydell and Sandro Sardelli, both regular ETCC competitors. Last year Rydell was classified fifth in the drivers championship at the wheel of a Prodrive-built S60, with eight podium results; and having been in racing with Volvo since 1994, he was a natural choice for the team. ”I’m very pleased to stay with Volvo and in the ETCC. When I visited ART Engineering, I was impressed by their facilities. I hope together we can do a good job. If we can develop the engine a bit more, I think we can be very competitive,” Rydell said. Sardelli won the Michelin Trophy for Amateur drivers in the 2001 FIA European Super Touring Championship at the wheel of a PRO Motorsport Nissan Primera, then he took part in the 2002 FIA ETCC in a CiBiEmme Honda Civic. ”I’m really excited, because this is the greatest opportunity I had so far in my racing career,” the Italian driver commented.
”We are very happy to have made this agreement with Volvo, and we think that with our two experienced drivers we will be able to give the bigger factory teams a real run for thir money”, says team owner Paolo Alessandrini. ”It is very satisfying that our S60 cars will be back on the European racetracks also in 2003”, says Volvo Motorsport Director Olle Odsell. ”The new ETCC is an exciting championship with good media coverage, and we are pleased that we have found a good solution with ART Engineering, Rickard Rydell and Sandro Sardelli.”