Seventh fastest in testing and tenth in qualifying before being pushed off the track, Volvo's new green C30 race car took its debut in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in the seventh race of the series at Brands Hatch, England this weekend. Volvo's priority was to test the new ethanol-driven race car against the best in the world. This was a debut that gave both a taste for the future and some drama.
"We are very happy with the weekend. We knew beforehand that a one-off entry in the WTCC would not be easy. This was partly because we would race on a completely new tire for us, and partly because we would have about 45kg extra weight as a debutant with ethanol." said Derek Crabb, Motorsport Director for Volvo Cars.
Driver Robert Dahlgren managed to qualify tenth out of 26 drivers in a qualifying session where the 13 fastest drivers were within one second of each other. Dahlgren out-qualified two of this year's dominant WTCC drivers, including Seat's Gabrielle Tarquini and Rickard Rydell. The veteran Rydell would appear in Dahlgren's rearview mirror during the first race heat, however. After ten laps, where Dahlgren was fighting for tenth position with James Thompson, Rickard Rydell crashed in to Dahlgren. The C30 driver went off the track and had to end the race there.
Unfortunately, the car was damaged and could not be repaired in time for the second heat, which started 45 minutes after the end of the first. Despite the dramatic end to the weekend, Volvo Driver Robert Dahlgren is very happy: "We came here to evaluate and learn. The job was completed as planned and gave us a taste for more. To jump into WTCC and be in the top ten straight away with a completely new car was good. The crash itself has to be considered as a compliment - if a top-ranked factory driver has to crash in to you to get past, then you know you are doing a good job!" he said.
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