Swede Kevin Hansen overcame storms, contact, and punctures en route to second place in the opening round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Montalegre, Portugal, to lie second in the early season Drivers’ standings.
Having built pace through the weekend in an event hit by changeable weather and track conditions, the former European Rallycross Champion finished second in the first Semi-Final to secure a second row start for the all-important Final.
In the main event, Hansen made the best start driving the all-electric #71 Peugeot 208 RX1e, nosing ahead to briefly lead the Final in the run to Turn One. On the outside line, the Swede braked early to attempt an undercut, slotting into second for much of the race. However, contact sustained in the first corner meant by the end of the fourth lap, the left-rear tyre on the electric four-wheel-drive machine was fully deflated.
Using all his skill and experience, Hansen survived the joker lap section to remain in front of the chasing pack and achieve a strong maiden result of the campaign.
Driving the #21 208 RX1e, 2019 World RX Drivers’ Champion Timmy Hansen qualified third in the ranking stage, having set the second fastest time overall in Heat 4. However, while challenging for a place in the Final on the last lap of the first Semi-Final, he had a spin in the closing corners. Hansen’s rotated car was then collected by another competitor, putting both out of the race.
The Hansen World RX Team lies second in the Team’s Championship standings, with drivers Kevin, second, and Timmy, seventh, in the Drivers’ standings respectively. The team now prepares for round two later this month in Hell, Norway (June 17-18).
Kenneth Hansen said: “The weekend has been more difficult than we expected, but in the end, we had good speed so we can be happy with that. We struggled a little at the beginning of the event and we didn’t really know why.
“We tried a lot of things and we made progress in the end. It’s a pity that Timmy went out in the Semi-Final, but that’s rallycross and these things happen, but it was great to have Kevin in second place because he had good speed. We are not at winning pace yet, but we are working hard and looking forward to Norway to see what we can do there.”
Kevin Hansen said: “I had some contact in Turn One of the Final and started to smell something already on lap one. Then from lap three I started to feel some vibration and at the start of the last lap the tyre exploded on the straight.
“We fought all the way to the end. This is rallycross and so many things happen all the time. It’s a very good result for me and the whole team to start the season. Even if it was hard at the start of the weekend we never stopped believing. We worked so hard to try and improve. We will continue to do that and I’m looking forward to the next race.”
Timmy Hansen said: “It was a bad ending to a weekend that was looking pretty good. Kevin had a strong race in the Semi-Final and was in front of me after the jokers. I shouldn’t have gone for a move on him in Turn Nine, but the racer in me in the heat of the moment wanted to take every opportunity.
“Most of all I’m happy that Kevin made it to the Final and he ended up having a brilliant race, hanging on to second with a puncture. We have worked hard, and in the end our pace was not so bad, but we need to keep working to find more performance.”