For immediate release
Volvo takes aim at North American GT racing title
Le Mans racing legend Derek Bell will spearhead a Volvo Cars of North America foray into auto racing as the lead driver on a new, retailer-backed four-car Volvo racing team entered in the 2004 Sports Car Club of America SPEED World Challenge GT series.
The team of four racing Volvo S60 Rs will be entered in the nine-event series by Maryland-based At Speed Motorsports, owned by Bob Miller, World Challenge rookie of the year in 2001. The lone Canadian stop for the series is Aug. 6-8 at Mosport International Raceway near Bowmanville, Ont. The series is televised in North America on SPEED Channel, which lends its name to the series.
Miller, veteran racer Paul Gerrard and a fourth driver to be named later will join Bell in the drivers' seats of the Volvo S60 Rs.
The racing cars will be enhanced versions of the recently launched and highly acclaimed Volvo high-performance S60 R sedan. Modifications to the stock 300-horsepower S60 R models will be announced closer to the start of the World Challenge season.
Vic Doolan, president and chief executive officer of Volvo Cars of North America, says the decision to race the S60 R, underscoring the performance heritage of the Volvo "R" series, came as the natural result of established reactions to the car from automotive journalists and owner enthusiasts,
"European Car magazine selected the S60 R as its top choice for 2003, and with every media road test we heard praise for its all-around performance and style," says Doolan. "It was inevitable that we would seek out a place to flex Volvo's newest high-performance muscles and the SPEED World Challenge GT Series, along with At Speed, seemed an appropriate combination."
Doolan says, "We also want everyone to see us coming, especially since [Derek] Bell will be in the command seat. This meant combining the talents of Volvo's Camarillo, Calif., design centre and At Speed Motorsports to come up with a paint scheme that no one could miss."
The resulting design is a dramatic 'mirror effect' blue-and-silver theme, highlighted in red. The retro pop-art design is reminiscent of the race cars of the seventies and eighties when Englishman Bell won five 24-hour races at Le Mans and racked up an impressive series of sports car and endurance race wins, including three victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and two World Sportscar championships. Bell began his career in 1964 and has raced in Formula 1 with a number of teams. He is by all standards a racer's racer and icon for the sport.
Bell will drive the full season for At Speed, and return to the duties he had as an in-car announcer for SPEED Channel before missing the 2003 season.
"I am ecstatic to be part of Volvo's first motorsport involvement in the United States, and it will be good to be back in the GT Series. Between driving, announcing, and helping to develop the new race car, this should be an exciting year for me. I enjoyed racing against Bob (Miller) in the past, and I'm looking forward to working with Volvo and to driving with Bob and Paul in 2004."
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Note to editors: More details of the Volvo Cars of North America racing program, along with photos of the S60 R competition car, are available at www.volvocars-pr.ca
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