Former Le Mans 24 Hours GT1 winner and British Touring Car Champion Rickard Rydell has announced his retirement from racing at the age of 48.

The Swedish star has confirmed the news on his personal website and brings an end on a career which spanned almost thirty years and made Rydell into a tin-top racing icon.

"I have decided to not compete in 2016 and this also means I'm retiring from racing," Rydell said. "I was a works driver for 20 consecutive years, and I'm very privileged and proud to have represented brands like Toyota, Volvo, Seat and Aston Martin in major championships and races. It was also fun to come home to Sweden and STCC after 21 seasons of international racing."

Rydell's early career blossomed in various Formula 3 series with the highlight of claiming victory at the 1992 Macau Grand Prix. The Swede broke into the wider public eye with a rookie season in the British Touring Car Championship in 1994 as a factory Volvo driver in the iconic 850.

Quickly establishing himself as a BTCC front runner he notched up regular race wins before clinching the 1998 BTCC title with Volvo S40 Racing. Rydell then transferred into the European Touring Car scene in 2002 before breaking away from the Swedish manufacturer to join SEAT.

Rydell then moved on to the international stage in 2005 in the World Touring Car Championship and claimed a maiden win on just his sixth outing to mark himself out as a regular contender during the 2000s.

With frequent dips into the sportscar scene, Rydell claimed a memorable Le Mans 24 Hour win in GT1 in 2007 with Aston Martin Racing alongside David Brabham and Darren Turner, taking an impressive fifth place finish in the overall classification.

After ending a successful partnership with SEAT in 2009 in tin-top racing, Rydell made his debut in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship in 2011 and stormed to the championship title with Chevrolet Motorsport. With sporadic appearances in WTCC marking his final few seasons Rydell feels it is the right time to end his career.

The Swede will now take on a full-time driver mentoring role with Gustav Malja in GP2 as well as working as a TV pundit for Viasat Motors.

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