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The champion who begged for Volvo Supercars seat

SCOTT McLaughlin could easily have had a different teammate in his first year as a Volvo Supercars driver.

In the lead-up to this weekend’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst International, charismatic Swedish star Thed Björk has opened up on how he pushed for the Cyan Racing-aligned Garry Rogers Motorsport seat alongside McLaughlin in 2014.

By that stage, Björk’s resume included stints in International Formula 3000 and DTM, a start in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 2006 Swedish Touring Car Championship crown.

In fact, he had also just won the 2013 Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, comfortably outperforming the likes of Robert Dahlgren – who ultimately got the nod to race the Volvo S60 Supercar in 2014.

Robert Dahlgren. Pic: an1images.com

Björk had to settle for tuning in as a fan watching McLaughlin take the fight to Jamie Whincup and co – including from on the ground at the 2014 Gold Coast 600 – between racking up another two Scandinavian Touring Car titles on the trot.

“I was hoping for that (Supercars opportunity) but I know my boss, he had another plan for me to start testing the WTCC car, the Volvo,” Björk told V8 Sleuth.

“For me it felt so strange, I won 2013, ’14 and ’15 in Sweden and I kicked Dahlgren’s arse all of the time, and I had the V8 experience – so I was like, ‘send me! Send me!’

“But he didn’t, he had another plan for me. It would have been so fun to do that.”

Thed Björk. Pic: Supplied/Daniel Kalisz

Dahlgren finished last in the 2014 standings with barely a third of McLaughlin’s points tally and was replaced by David Wall for the following season.

After pulling out at the end of 2016, Volvo had the S60 Supercars sent to Sweden to reside in its Gothenburg museum.

“I have sat in it because it stands almost next to my (2017) world championship car. But we haven’t run them on the track,” Björk said.

He added, unprompted: “I think maybe I need to try to get a drive in a Supercar someday.”

The 42-year-old is currently Down Under for the Australian swing of the inaugural TCR World Tour.

Björk was quick out of the blocks last Friday at Sydney Motorsport Park but a qualifying mishap put him on the back foot for the remainder of the weekend.

Thed Björk at Sydney Motorsport Park. Pic: Supplied/Daniel Kalisz

Now Bathurst awaits – and he can’t wait. He’ll get his first taste of Mount Panorama today in a rental car, ahead of three races this weekend.

Amid some Sydney chaos, Björk was impressed by the standard of the Australian competition as Will Brown outright won the TCR World Tour round.

“The driver level is really good in Australia,” he said.

“We have been to different championships around the world but coming here, the drivers are really good. It’s really nice to join the championship and see the good drivers.”

Björk forms one-quarter of the Cyan Racing Lynk & Co line-up, along with Yann Ehrlacher, Santiago Urrutia and Ma Qing Hua.

Bathurst leads into the final round of the regular season on November 16-19 in Macau. The TCR World Tour final will then take place next March in Portugal.

Hyundai’s Norbert Michelisz leads the standings by just one point from Audi’s Rob Huff. Björk is eighth, having won a race at the Hungaroring in June.

Yann Ehrlacher and Thed Björk. Pic: Supplied/Daniel Kalisz
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