1998 AMP Bathurst 1000 Winner
Rickard Rydell/Jim Richards #40 Volvo S40 Racing Volvo S40 Chassis – R8-002
After racing the 850 model wagon then sedan in Aussie Super Touring, Volvo stepped it up in 1998 and imported an S40 for Jim Richards to drive in the local series.
However, for Bathurst the factory TWR-run Volvo team brought out a pair of its British Touring Car Championship cars (R8-002 and R8-003) for The Great Race, pairing Richards with Swede Rickard Rydell and Brit Tim Harvey with another Swede, Jan Nilsson.
Rydell and Italian, Gianni Morbidelli, had been the works drivers during that year’s BTCC and the former believes his Bathurst car to have been raced by Morbidelli during the season.
“I’m not sure if he ran it all season or just some races, but I have a vague memory of him changing cars throughout the year but I’m not sure,” Rydell told AMC.
Either way, the Bathurst campaign would result in victory for Rydell and Richards in the #40 entry, enduring a day-long fight with the Nissan Primera driven by Brit Matt Neal and Jim’s son Steven – who at that stage had been test driver for Nissan’s BTCC program.
The Volvo led a total of 83 laps to claim the first win (and so far only!) for a five-cylinder car in the history of the Bathurst endurance race.
But perhaps the most amazing achievement from that weekend was Rydell’s stunning pole position lap when he cranked a 2m14.9265s time with military precision from the front-wheeldrive, 300-horsepower S40 that was a whopping 1.4878s faster than the next-best car!
The #40 S40 claimed pole position, victory and the fastest lap of the race to finish what had been a stunning year for the manufacturer.
“I’ll always remember the Bathurst 1000 win with Jim Richards as very special, especially since being at such a famous race and being the greatest track of all!” Rydell says today.
“Jim was also a really nice guy to share the car with, I had real fun. The qually lap was of course very special.”
The Bathurst-winning car remained here in Australia for the following season with Jim Richards driving as part of a two-car team in
the local Super Touring series.
Battling Paul Morris’ privateer BMW and the works Audis, Richards claimed 10 race wins in the 1999 series and six pole positions but missed out on claiming the title when he was pipped by just six points by Morris.
The car returned to Bathurst for the modified Bob Jane T-Marts Bathurst 1999 festival of racing on the October long weekend with a 100-kilometre qualifying race on Saturday and a 500-kilometre race on Sunday.
Cameron McLean was signed to partner Richards, who won the Saturday qualifier to claim pole for Sunday. However, the wet weather conditions made it a miserable day and the front-wheel drive S40 struggled to get front tyre temperature in the conditions.
McLean didn’t get to drive in the race, as it was red-flagged after 50 of the scheduled 81 laps with Richards in second place, and a massive amount of running behind the Safety Car, which turned it into more of a procession than a motor race.
That was the car’s last race as Volvo pulled out of Super Touring at the end of 1999 and the chassis was shipped back to Sweden and restored by SportsPromotion.
Volvo then presented the car to Rickard Rydell as recognition of his on-track efforts for the manufacturer and it then remained in the Bilsports Museum in Karlskrona, Sweden in 1998 BTCC-like livery.
Rydell tells us it’s now in the garage of Johnny Haraldsson, who used to work on the Volvos in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship series, and has been that category’s scrutineer for quite some time.
“He is going through the car to make it ready to run,” Rydell told us.
“It should not be too much work, but there was a few things missing and since it’s not been run for quite a few years it has to be stripped. Daniel Reinhard, a Volvo fan from Sweden, is helping Johnny to get the car ready.”
While Super Tourer ‘historic’ racing is on the rise in England (they’re supporting the current BTCC at some events this year!), Rydell has no plans for the car for this year but may do a demo run at the historic Knutstorp Revival meeting in Sweden in May this year.
Either way, there aren’t too many Bathurst 1000-winning drivers who own one of their first-placed cars, so it’s great to know that the Super Swede now has the very Volvo that once conquered the Mountain.
Calder Park 1999