HOW TEAM HANSEN HAS USED THE LOCKDOWN TO PREPARE FOR 2020
Tuesday 21st of July 2020
The start of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship has been delayed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic but that does not mean that reigning World RX Teams’ Champion Team Hansen, and 2019 Drivers’ Champion Timmy Hansen have been taking things easy; in Sweden they have been working constantly to be ready for the battle to defend their titles.
Timmy and Kevin Hansen have been busy at the Team Hansen headquarters in Sweden, competing in Esports (Kevin Hansen became a Twitch regular and raced in a range of series while Timmy Hansen won the World RX Esports Series and the Race of Champions Virtual), preparing their Yellow Squad young driver programme and working on their own development.
Ahead of the 2020 season, World RX caught up with them.
Hi guys. You’ve clearly been keeping busy recently with Esports, has that helped you in your preparation for your title defense?
Timmy Hansen: “It’s hard to say, because I haven’t really been in my car since this time doing Esports, but one positive has been that I’m actually racing even though that’s been in a different way. I’ve still been on the start line, still having to prepare for races and performing during the races, so I think mentally it’s quite the same challenge as in real life, but the driving style is obviously different. I put in a lot of practice. I hadn’t done much Esports or gaming before this period and it’s only due to practice that I’ve been able to go faster. Every time I’ve been in the sim I’ve been able to go a bit quicker. That has been the key to be competitive.”
Kevin Hansen: “It’s been very important to keep racing and experiencing the heat of the moment when doing races. If we had not partnered with our Italian friends at Sparco Gaming, it would have been nine months between Cape Town 2019 and Holjes 2020. Esports has allowed us to keep the racing mind active, and stay sharp. This has been very important for us, but also to meet new friends and build a stronger network within the motor sport world. I mean I wouldn’t have known Shane van Gisbergen would be so amazing in rallycross if the Esports didn't happen! Imagine how great he could be in the real world.”
Kevin, what has been your best achievement in Esports over the last few months?
“I would say understanding myself and working with myself in the heat of the moment in an environment with less pressure. That has helped me a lot, and has only brought greater understanding and speed out of myself that will be very useful when World RX returns to action.”
Timmy, how was it to win the Race of Champions Virtual?
“That was cool, just to be invited to Race of Champions along with all those other great drivers was amazing. I didn’t know at all how it was going to go, because it was a new game for me and I had to spend quite a lot of time to learn it. But so, did many of the other drivers. Going into the race I had no clue of my own or the others pace, but I was able to progress through to the semi-finals, there we went onto gravel which I think was in my favour and I was able to be fast. From there on beating Petter Solberg and some very highly rated other drivers. There wasn’t much time to think during the race but it was an amazing feeling to win something like that.”
How did it feel to get back into real-world racing Holjes with RallyX Nordic recently?
Kevin Hansen: “It was great, but it’s not back to ‘racing’. That will never be the same, and that we experienced at Holjes. We need to respect and work within this new situation of social distancing, face protection and increased hand hygiene. This was very difficult in Holjes, as you feel like ‘I’ve done this before’ and it’s natural to behave in a certain way. For #YellowSquad we practised the new team restrictions that will be applied in World RX for Team Hansen, to further understand the weaknesses and important things to improve the safety for the rallycross community and our team members. This I would say was very crucial to understand when heading back there in August for World RX.”
Timmy Hansen: “For me racing the TN5 Crosscar at Holjes, was quite similar to doing the Esports, because it’s a completely different driving style to what I’m used to. But, the actual track was obviously the right one, not the game one. Being able to get back into a real racecar, it’s a different feeling to Esports, although that performance part is the same. The main difference to the Esports is that I didn’t have time to practise really, but I went there for a challenge and to develop myself and I’m happy with that.”
Kevin, you were running the #YellowSquad team at Holjes as part of your young driver programme. How did the extended off-season effect the preparation of your Yellow Squad drivers?
Kevin Hansen: “The extra off-season time was great for our two drivers in #YellowSquad as they could build more on their physical side. This allowed them to extract even more out of the Magic Weekend at Holjes as they could stay sharp over the whole week. This is really important.”
Kevin, in what way has this extended off-season changed the way you are preparing for World RX 2020?
“It was nice to have a longer break I must say. 2019 was very demanding in having three championships on the line, winning two of them and being close to becoming World Champion. In total I did 23 races from April to November, so to get a longer rest was for me extremely necessary. Now I’m back to even higher level than I was in beginning of 2019, and even more hungry for being back to high performance racing. It has been important to use this period to further understand myself and build an even stronger team for the return to racing. I believe we have capitalised on this opportunity as a team, and you will see that when we return. It is Team Hansen, the smiles and passion that we being to the sport, and with two drivers with an even stronger bond to each other that will only benefit us in a way no other team can achieve. I have worked on all the details, fitness, mind, driving and strategy even more in 2020 than 2019, and I believe with our partners, with my family and our team we are very, very well prepared for the new era of safe racing.”
Timmy, will you be testing your World RX Supercars before the season?
“Yes. We have been holding back on testing because we didn’t want to do it too soon, if we did it months ago I don’t think it would have made a big difference to the season, so we wanted to push it quite close to the season, so we can use those few days that we have to get back into that driving style and feeling I want to have. That’s the best way to be fresh. I’m really excited to get back into that. All this other stuff has been good, but I’m excited to go back to real world racing.”
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