Katrineholm (Sweden) 7 October 2013 - NIKA Racing are pleased to announce that former BTCC and STCC champion Rickard Rydell will return to the team – and to international motorsport – to take part in next month’s FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) round at Shanghai, China.
Rydell raced in the WTCC full-time between 2005-2009, with his latest outing in the championship having come behind the wheel of NIKA Racing’s Chevrolet Cruze for a one-off appearance at the 2012 curtain-raiser at Monza. The Swedish driver/team combination first saw the light of day with a joint attack on the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship (STCC) in 2011, with Rydell clinching the title on his first attempt following an ultra-dramatic showdown finale at Mantorp Park.
For 2012, Rydell remained an STCC frontrunner with the Katrineholm-based squad, who eventually went on to win the teams’ championship title thanks to the combined efforts of Rydell and Denmark’s Michel Nykjær (second and third respectively in the driver standings).
Rydell’s WTCC record includes five victories and 24 podiums. The 1998 BTCC champion will make his reappearance on the international motor racing stage at the Shanghai International Circuit on November 2-3, with Japan’s Hiroki Yoshimoto then returning to driving duties at NIKA Racing for the final round of the season at Macau two weeks later.
Rickard Rydell (driver): ”It will be absolutely great to return to the WTCC, and to work with NIKA Racing again following two successful seasons together back home in Sweden. I basically haven’t sat in a racing car since the STCC finale at Solvalla in 2012, and I’ve never driven at Shanghai – so I’m well-aware that this is going to be a big challenge. For that same reason, it will be of extra importance to do this with a team I know well, and in a car I’m familiar with from previous seasons. I’ve also worked with my engineer – Nigel – before, which will hopefully make things a little bit smoother. It’s difficult to know what to expect, but we at least have to aim for some strong points in both races. I will do everything I possibly can, and I truly look forward to getting back on track!”
Nicklas Karlsson (Team Principal): ”We are extremely pleased, and proud, to resume our ties with Rickard Rydell – one of the fastest touring car drivers of the modern era. He gave us our first championship title in 2011, and our two years together in the STCC effectively laid the foundations for our current WTCC programme. Today’s announcement has been made possible thanks to a very positive dialogue with our Swedish partners, and particularly by a number of export companies who have been of great support throughout these talks. Rickard hasn’t raced at all this season, but we are more than aware of his capabilities. He, if anyone, is up for this challenge.”
Stefan Lindberg (Sporting Coordinator): ”First of all, I would like to welcome Rickard back to NIKA Racing; he will be a very real asset in Shanghai. Looking at our overall programme, 2013 has been a fantastic season – both in terms of our on-track performance and when it comes to all the hard work that’s been taking place back at base in Sweden. We now intensify our efforts for 2014, as we bid to further enhance the platform of this season in order to ensure long-term success in what is a highly exciting championship for the future. We are currently weighing up the possibilities of expanding for next year, and I think we can look forward to an interesting winter.”