At their live 2017 season launch, Polestar Cyan Racing confirmed they would field three cars in the WTCC this season. They also confirmed they had retained the services of Swedish driver Thed Bjork, however that Fredrik Ekblom and Robert Dahlgren wouldn’t be in the cars for 2017. The latter confirming a switch to Seat for the up coming STCC championship. Instead they have called on the services of ex Lada driver Nicky Catsburg and 2016 Argentine TC2000 champion Nestor Griolami. This sees a move away from Volvo’s tradition of fielding an all Swedish line up, something they also did in the Australian V8 Supercars Championship.
Only in their second year in the WTCC, the team is targeting to be fighting the factory Hondas for the title this season. A dream that could come true, given the pace that the S60 TC1 cars showed in the latter stages of last season in the hands of both Bjork and Griolami. Head of Polestar Alexander Murdzevski Schedvin said, “We have full confidence in the preparations and abilities of the Polestar Cyan Racing team and the driver line-up with Thed, Néstor and Nicky. However, we are by no means expecting an easy time to reach our goal as it has been brought forward one year and the opposition is as tough as ever. But there should be no doubt about that we have the World Title as our ultimate goal this year.”
Bjork managed to bag the team’s first and only win of last season in China after a fantastic final lap move to take victory in race 1. “The feeling to win our first race already in our first season was incredible and it has really boosted my confidence ahead of the new season, in which we have set ourselves new and higher targets.” Said Bjork. “The off-season testing has been rewarding, I have never before driven this much ahead of a season and I feel well prepared to fight for the World Title. I am also really glad to have Néstor and Nicky on board – they are both very fast and professional.” Polestar appear to have focused quite a lot of time on the development and off season testing of their S60, something they lacked last season. This proved to be an issue during the first races of 2016 as the team struggled to get on the pace.
Griolami drove a single round in Japan the 2016 championship for Volvo, bring his total series appearances to three. This season will be his first full time drive in the world championship. “I am extremely grateful to get this opportunity together with Polestar Cyan Racing. My first race with them last year was really promising and I felt right at home with the team. I hope to, together with everyone in the team, Thed and Nicky take the next step forward in the result lists this year.” Griolami comes from the Argentine TC2000 championship, where he has competed since 2010. in 2013 he narrowly missed out on the title to, now treble World touring car champion Jose Maria Lopez. When Lopez graduated to WTCC, Griolami took over and won the 2014 and 2015 titles. He will surely want to come into the WTCC with a similar form to that of his countryman and former rival.
Having been left without a drive for 2017 when Lada announced their retirement from WTCC, Nicky Catsburg was a clear choice for the Volvo Squad. Having completed his first full season last year for Lada, Catsburg scored 5 podiums, including 1 race win in the Vesta. He will be hoping to build on his 7th place championship finish last year. “I followed Polestar Cyan Racing’s progress closely from a competing team in 2016 and I am very glad to join them now. Their results from last year were impressive and I hope that I, together with Thed and Néstor, can put on a strong performance in order to deliver on our tough goals for the 2017 season” said Nicky Catsburg.
The Polestar team have been hard at work developing the S60 TC1 car for the 2017 from their new base in Gothenburg, Sweeden. It features new workshops and a state-of-the-art simulator to speed up the development process, allowing the team to develop the car without leaving the factory. With facilities like this, CEO Christain Dahl hopes that Cyan Racing can go for gold. “This is the result of many years of hard work and we are proud to create an unprecedented level of motorsport industry in Scandinavia. The facilities are a vital part in our push for the 2017 WTCC title, but there is of course more to it. Our testing programme has proceeded according to plan and we have taken key steps forward in the development of the S60 Polestar TC1 race car.”
We are now just 2 weeks from the official pre-season test, held at Monza between March 14th and 15th. This will be the first time we see the new look grid in action over 2 days of timed testing. The first race of the season is now just 5 weeks away, and there are still plenty of drivers still to be confirmed for the 2017 season. The first race will take place on April 9th in Marrakech.
Image: Polestar Cyan Racing