The setting was perfect; the sun shone down, reflecting and glistening off the waters of Gothenburg harbor, while seagulls circled and cawed in the sky. But these few moments of peaceful tranquility didn't last long before the atmosphere was filled with the sound of roaring engines, screeching tyres, and the loud crack from exhausts as the drivers of the STCC series shot-off on their qualifying laps. Giddy with anticipation, the excited crowd cheered, while celebratory smoke blasted from pipes positioned around the track. The Gothenburg city race had begun.
The cars, featuring BMW, VW, Alfa Romeo, Seat and Volvo zoomed around Gothenburg's City Race Arena track, competing for the fastest lap-time in 20 minutes. The eight fastest cars were then entered into the Super Pole - a one lap shoot-out to determine the top eight positions for the first of two heats. The event was the fourth of nine races in the 2010 STCC series, which takes place annually across Sweden. The race was also one of four races in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, a new allegiance with the DTC (Danish Touring Car Championship).
The one mile track, located in Gothenburg's pretty harbor area, is notoriously difficult with sharp bends and concrete barriers. But safety was at the forefront of the race and waiting patiently in the wings, like actors ready to burst on stage, were two bright green Volvo L70F wheel loaders. One was fitted with a custom-made steel plate and fork attachment, to quickly pick-up and remove cars from the track after a collision. And the other had a Holms SH Sweeper Roller 3.0 attachment, to clear debris from the track in-between races.
Volvo Construction Equipment was selected as the official maintenance machines for the STCC series, supplied by Swecon. The two L70F wheel loaders are touring with the series and were painted an eye-catching green by Swecon to match the two Volvo C30 cars taking part. The color was chosen to emphasize the Volvo team's environmental motto for the STCC: Green Racing.
Market Communications Manager for Swecon, Fredrik Rigö, says, "Together with Volvo Cars we offer the same brand of products containing environmentally friendly features. We have a common agenda in developing green innovation and together we are simply up to the name 'Volvo Green Racing'."
Although Volvo Cars are no longer part of The Volvo Group, both Volvo Construction Equipment and Volvo Cars still share the same core values of quality, safety, and environmental care and continually strive to make their products with as little environmental impact as possible.
The STCC is one of the greenest events on the racing calendar. Started in 1996, inspired by the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship), the STCC has endeavored to clean-up motor racing and distance itself from the sport's association with petrol fumes and polluting CO2 emissions.
Managing Director for the STCC, Bob Huzell, says: "Racing is a great sport which doesn't have to be costly to the environment and we are proving this every year as we continually find ways to make the series more environmentally friendly."
Volvo Cars has significantly contributed to this environmental change by pioneering the use of bio-ethanol in its racing cars in 2007. The fuel, known as E85, is made up of 85% ethanol and 15% petrol and produces 70% less emissions. Today, Volvo Cars and Polestar Racing - who design, manufacture and test the cars on behalf of Volvo - have become the STCC's official Environmental Development Partners.
Alexander Murdzevski Schedvin, Commercial Director of Motorsport for Volvo Cars says this year's Volvo C30 car is greener than ever. "We have optimized every aspect of the car to lower fuel consumption and improve aerodynamics using our new DRIVEe system. The Volvo C30 won the series last year and we hope to continue its success this season with an improved chassis and lower, longer, and wider front end. The more aerodynamic the car the faster it will go and the less fuel it will consume."
But it isn't just Volvo Cars that is saving fuel. "Volvo Construction Equipment's new Optishift system offers a fuel saving of up to 15% in its bigger wheel loader range, and Eco Operator training teaches machine operators how to maximize the fuel efficiency of their Volvo machines," says Fredrik Rigö. "Furthermore, the L70Fs 168 horse power and 30,860 IB operating weight make it the ideal machine size to speed around the racing track."
Bob Huzell agrees that the machines are a critical accompaniment to the series. "They provide optimal conditions for fast lap times on the track and they work tirelessly behind the scenes to help construct and dismantle the surroundings for each race weekend," he says.
The first heat was won by Volvo's popular Swedish driver Robert Dahlgren who sped round the 20 laps to victory after securing pole position in the qualifying round. Pleased with his performance he said: "I know how much this means to Volvo, we are the home team and I want to deliver here."
Luckily the wheel loaders didn't need to be used for any major crashes at the Gothenburg race. But the second heat was messier with more overtaking, bumper-to-bumper brushing and several near crashes, as the excitement soared. BMW took first place closely followed by Dahlgren in fifth, whose car finished with a dent after being "T-boned from the side by another car". Fellow Volvo driver, Norwegian born Tommy Rustad had a disappointing race after coming ninth in the first heat. "I'm so angry, I went too hard at the exit of the second curve and the car started to bounce, the rear wheels locked and the car went sideways," he said. Rustad finished 11th in heat two after he was penalized for pushing Alfa Romeo driver, Mattias Andersson, off the track
The race was watched by a mixed family crowd in the arena and approximately a quarter of a million viewers tuned in to watch it on Swedish TV.
One of the members of the crowd was sports car enthusiast and Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Volvo Construction Equipment Europe, Mike Humphrey. "It was a great day," he said. "The heats were very exciting and it was fun to see the painted wheel loaders operating alongside the Volvo C30 cars. It shows that although we're separate companies, we have the same environmental values."
Volvo enters the next race at Falkenberg, Sweden, on July 10th in overall second place.
Text: Clare Gittins
Photography: Julian Cornish-Trestrail
For further information, please visit: www.volvoce.com/press.
Director, External Communications
Volvo Construction Equipment
Tel: int + 32 478 92 43 26
Tel: int +44 77 333 50307