The second worst kept secret in Aussie motorsport was revealed today as Robert Dahlgren was announced as the second driver in Volvo Polestar Racing’s assault on the 2014 V8 Supercars championship.
The Swedish ace, a factory Volvo driver since 2004 and a star of the Swedish Touring Car scene for many years, will partner promising young Kiwi Scott McLaughlin this season as Volvo return down under for the first time since the Group A era of the 1980s. McLaughlin impressed last year, taking a win in his debut season for Garry Rogers Motorsport, and will stick with Rogers as they team up with Volvo.
The odds won’t exactly be in Dahlgren’s favour. Both Maro Engel and Alex Premat (whom Dahlgren is replacing) came into the series as international drivers with pedigree in other disciplines but struggled for the most part with the V8s, a series quite unlike any other on the planet. He’ll also be making his debut in a new, largely unproven car – and we know how that worked out with Engel at Mercedes. Add to that the fact that he won’t have an experienced teammate to ease him in.
However, Dahlgren does have two things in his favour. First, unlike Engel and Premat who came from sportscar/GT backgrounds, Dahlgren is used to the bump and grind of touring car racing from his years in Sweden, learning from the likes of the great Rickard Rydell. Secondly, Volvo will be throwing a lot more money and knowledge at their V8 program than Mercedes, who basically gave Erebus permission to use the badge and that’s about it. Polestar Racing are one of the most experienced race car builders in the game, so combine that with Volvo’s substantial backing means they could spring some surprises – certainly they can hope for steady progress and good results a la Nissan in 2013.
And if anyone knows how to get the best out of promising rookie drivers, it’s Garry Rogers.
Welcome to the party, Mr Dahlgren. We hope you enjoy your stay – and stay around longer than previous overseas guests.