Home advantage worked for Volvo at the Gothenburg City Arena in Sweden last weekend. In front of a boisterous hometown crowd, Volvo cleaned up in the finale of the TTA (Touring Car Team Association) Racing Elite League 2012. But the racecars weren’t the only Volvos making a big impression at the track: three Volvo Construction Equipment machines were right in the thick of things, making sure the race went off without a hitch.
In the sensory overload of the TTA (Touring Car Team Association) Racing Elite League 2012 finale — between the roaring engines, the pungent smell of tortured rubber, and the flash of dozens of high-performing cars blazing past the grandstands at 230 km/h (143 mph) — it might have been easy to overlook the Volvo brand’s other top performers at the racetrack – its team of construction equipment.
Swecon, Volvo Construction Equipment’s dealer in Sweden, sponsors the TTA and provides the race series with three Volvo L70G wheel loaders — two painted black to match the cars on the Volvo Polestar Black R team and one in the traditional Volvo CE yellow. The wheel loaders work at the racetrack for a week, preparing the track by moving heavy objects, as well as sweeping rubber and debris from the asphalt at the end of the race. It’s their job to get damaged vehicles off the track quickly and safely — using a rescue platform or craning attachment, depending on the location of the accident and the type of damage sustained, to whisk the cars away.
“Having our machines in a prominent place on the track reminds spectators that the Volvo brand is present in the construction equipment industry as well as the car business,” says Fredrik Rigo, market communications manager at Swecon. “Although Volvo Cars is now a separate company from the rest of Volvo Group, we can still use one another’s strengths to promote our shared brand values and to work across business lines to reach all new customer groups.
“Raising awareness is good for bringing in new customers, of course, but it’s also helpful for recruitment. Young people don’t always consider jobs in the construction equipment industry. But if they get into Volvo cars by watching the races, they’ll see that Volvo CE is also an exciting part of the Volvo brand.”
There was plenty of excitement on the Gothenburg track for the finale of the 2012 TTA drivers’ championship. Thanks to a stellar season, Volvo Polestar Racing driver Fredrik Ekblom was all but assured of first place — going into the race, he needed just one more point to win. Holding off the challenger Linus Ohlsson of Team Tido/PWR Racing — who threatened to take the drivers’ championship at the tender age of 21 — Ekblom clinched the title with a strong third place finish in the qualifying round.
Then it was a battle for second place, as Ekblom’s teammate, Thed Bjork, starting in pole position, managed to hold off Ohlsson and the rest of the pack in the 40-minute final, maintaining a comfortable lead in a Volvo S60 as blue as the Swedish flag.
“Absolutely wonderful!” Ekblom raved. “Everything has worked so well all season. Volvo and everyone on the team have done a fantastic job. I could not be more happy or proud right now.”
And with that, Polestar — which collaborates with Volvo in motorsport, in addition to providing optimization services for Volvo passenger car customers — capped off an enviable season by completing a grand slam. Besides Ekblom’s drivers’ championship, Bjork and Ekblom sealed a team championship for Volvo Polestar Racing. And with Polestar’s other TTA team, Volvo Polestar Black R, coming in fourth overall in the team rankings, Volvo took home the manufacturer’s championship as well.
“To win all three of these championships in Gothenburg is just spectacular,” says Derek Crabb, the executive director of Volvo Car Corporation Motorsport. “It’s the equivalent of winning the World Cup at home — in the world of motorsport racing, anyway.”
But it wasn’t just the Volvo cars that made fast times on track. This series, Swecon broke the world record for racing the fastest wheel loader, a specially tailored Volvo L60G – one of Volvo CE’s newest models of wheel loader. The uniquely named Volvo L60G PCP was specially optimized for high speeds. The wheel loader, which was on display in the pit area at Gothenburg City Arena, broke a world record in May, clocking in at 103 km/h before surpassing that speed by 17 km/h in early September. A team of three young Swecon mechanics, in coordination with engineers from Volvo CE’s Technology function, customized the wheel loader’s Stage IIIB/Tier 4i Volvo D6 engine with a bigger-than-standard turbo and injectors. Like its counterparts on the Volvo Polestar Racing team, the L60G PCP wears a brilliant blue livery and is outfitted with a racing steering wheel and a six-point safety harness. But the high-performing L60G PCP also ties nicely to Volvo CE’s newest line of high-performing wheel loaders: the L60G, L70G and L90G, which are famed for their own impressive turn of speed — increased performance and faster cycle times.
“With the L60G PCP, Swecon sees itself as the Polestar for Volvo CE,” Rigo says. “Because Volvo customers have such strong emotions about the brand, it’s an advantage for all of us to work together — Volvo Cars, Polestar and members of Volvo Group like Volvo CE.”
Picture 1: A black Volvo L70G wheel loader with a craning attachment removes a damaged car from the track at the Gothenburg City Arena.
Picture 2: Number 12 Thed Bjork of Volvo Polestar Racing leads the pack as the final race of the TTA Racing Elite League 2012 season begins on September 29th. Bjork is followed closely by Volvo Polestar Racing teammate Fredrik Ekblom, winner of the TTA drivers’ championship, and Robert Dahlgren of Volvo Polestar Black R.
Picture 3: A black Volvo L70G wheel loader removes a car from the racetrack with its rescue platform attachment.