Britain could be considered a second home for Swedish touring car ace Rickard Rydell - and the former Touring Car champion proved to be a magnet for petrol heads when he called in on Motorsport Day at the British International Motor Show.
Rickard acted as ambassador for Swedish stalwart Volvo, and he was happy to meet and chat to dozens of fans at the company's stand. He was joined by fellow European Touring Car Championship contender, Briton James Hansen.
Although Volvo announced this week that it has cancelling two touring car programmes in Europe, and it currently has no presence in the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship), Rickard hopes he can continue his long association with the Swedish maker, and was happy to support them at the Motor Show.
“There was a lot of surprise about the cancellation,” said Rickard, “There's been quite a bit in the press and it was greeted with disappointment.
“I'm Swedish, so I feel very much like a Volvo ambassador, if not in racing next year.”
He has recently tested some of Volvo's latest sporty road-going saloons on a French circuit and emerged highly impressed with the handling.
Rickard, who plans to race in the strongest motorsport series that he can find, has pencilled in a return to Le Mans with Ferrari in 2003.
He was running strongly in the Prodrive 550 Maranello with teammate Alain Menu in this year's 24 hour classic when the engine broke.
Rickard was BTCC champion with Volvo in 1998, and was with the racing team when they decided to go racing with the 'outrageous' 850 estate in the 1994 BTCC.
The car received a strong reaction from the public and press, and helped change the perception of the Volvo marque in the UK.
Rickard has fond memories of racing in the highly competitive BTCC during the 1990s: “It was a great championship - I've got lots of friends still among the teams and drivers.
“I particularly liked racing at Donington Circuit, which had some really nice corners, and at Brands Hatch GP Circuit in Kent.”Published 2 November 2002