So this is how serious Geely is about motorsport success. Just a couple of weeks after Yvan Muller was announced as part of Lynk&Co Cyan Racing for the 2019 WTCR championship, now Andy Priaulx has been confirmed as well. Any motorsport fan with even a passing interest in tin-top and sportscar racing in the 21st century will know of Priaulx: he's won touring car titles across the globe, as well as the Nurburgring 24-Hour just as a starter.
So the news of Priaulx's signing for Lynk&Co Cyan Racing for next season's WTCR championship is pretty significant. Geely Group Motorsport was only formed last March, its official role being to manage "strategic alignment on activities and operation of specific motorsport programmes for the automotive brands within Zhejiang Geely Holding Group." So while Cyan Racing remains privately owned and operated, Lynk&Co is a Geely company; Geely wants to see Lynk&Co's public profile rise through motorsport - a time-honoured strategy we can certainly get on board with - and so how better to do that in touring cars than sign another of the most successful drivers in the sport? In case any further proof was required - no doubt more will arrive in time - it shows that Geely is seemingly not afraid of committing resources to its brands.
Priaulx said of the news: "I'm delighted to become a Lynk&Co Cyan Racing driver and I have no doubt that we are in a strong position to fight for the overall title already in our first year". Combine his success with Cyan's 20 years of touring car experience and the omens are pretty good.
More than that, though, this sort of move surely augurs well for the rest of the Geely empire. They seem to be pursuing only the best, and are willing to put the time and money into achieving that. So yes, inevitably, we're thinking about Lotus and motorsport again. Wonder what they could fund out of Hethel...
Last month we reported on Lynk & Co's plan to reclaim the World Touring Car title that its Geely-owned sibling Polestar - now Cyan - won in 2017. It was curious and ambitious in equal measure; curious because the marque had billed itself as a car company for people who aren't really all that fussed about cars, and ambitious because, well, winning the title is no small feat.
It's become significantly more realistic today, though, with the announcement that quadruple world champion Yvan Muller will be partnering 2017 winner Thed Bjork for the 2019 season. Muller raced a Hyundai i30N for his own team, Yvan Muller Racing, in partnership with Cyan this season, bringing home the Teams title but missing out on winning the Drivers championship by just three points.
Having retired for a season in 2016, Muller said of his decision to extend his comeback: "I have been very happy working with Cyan Racing and to continue our journey in this new programme with Lynk & Co is ideal. We will continue to push hard for the World Title in 2019."
Christian Dahl, CEO of Cyan Racing, added: "Yvan is a key part in our assault on the 2019 FIA WTCR and our cooperation with him and his team Yvan Muller Racing during 2018 has been invaluable. The programme has enabled us to make the necessary preparations in order to hit the ground running next year. To claim the teams' title in 2018 fills us all with confidence for the challenges to come."
The team's third driver is set to be unveiled in due course, but with two such successful names already on board, Lynk & Co's words certainly seem to be being matched by its actions. Bring on 2019!
Original story 19/10/18:
Remember Lynk & Co, that Geely-owned car brand aimed at people with no real interest in cars? Well, it's only gone and confirmed involvement in the 2019 World Touring Car Cup, which, rather obviously and somewhat counterintuitively, is a thing for people who are very interested in cars. The Chinese company is using its affiliation with fellow Geely brand Volvo to launch a motorsport campaign with Cyan Racing, which won the 2017 World Touring Car Championship with the Volvo S60 Polestar. As if that weren't enough, it's also confirmed development of a 500hp road car.
But first the racing bit. Swedish team Cyan, which was operated under the Polestar banner, hasn't competed in the 2018 WTCC series for a simple reason - it can't, factory teams having been banned. Instead, under the new plan, it will return next year as a privateer, fielding 03 TCRs, which are race-spec versions of the Lynk & Co four-door saloon that have been prepared by Geely Group Motorsport. Among the driver line-up will be 2017 WTCC champ Thed Björk.
Cyan is aiming for gold, of course, with CEO Christian Dahl stating: "Our ambition as a race team is to reclaim our world title and explore new ways of automotive performance together with Lynk & Co."
Lynk & Co's announcement of a concept TCR-inspired performance road car concept is, if anything, even more unexpected. Not least because it apparently boasts a 500hp V8, but because the brand is supposed to be focused on car sharing rather than actual car selling. Could this be a preview of the world's first high performance, purpose-built car share machine? Or might it be a brazen attempt to get Lynk & Co talked about more widely? Take your pick.