WRC ORLEN 80th Rally Poland
Poland
Starts: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 8:00:00 AM
ERC Bauhaus Royal Rally of Scandinavia
Sweden
Starts: Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 12:00:00 PM
Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
Sweden
Starts: Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM

Mon 03 Oct 2022

Hansens ‘moving in the right direction’

For the second race weekend in a row, Hansen World RX Team had cause to feel hard done-by at Montalegre last month, but having shown the speed to challenge for victory in both Latvia and Portugal, the defending world champions are fired-up to belatedly open their winning account for 2022 in Belgium in a few days’ time (8-9 October).

For the second race weekend in a row, Hansen World RX Team had cause to feel hard done-by at Montalegre last month, but having shown the speed to challenge for victory in both Latvia and Portugal, the defending world champions are fired-up to belatedly open their winning account for 2022 in Belgium in a few days’ time (8-9 October).

After initially struggling for pace around the Circuito Internacional de Montalegre, Timmy and Kevin Hansen hauled themselves up the order in heat two on the opening day to occupy second and third spots respectively in the intermediate ranking.

The brothers subsequently advanced safely through both the progression and semi-final stages to reach the all-important final. Timmy pulled off a crowd-pleasing pass on KMS rookie Gustav Bergström to add a 41st career podium to his tally in third, while following a fast start, Kevin boldly attempted to drive around the outside of his adversaries in Turn One, only to find himself forced wide. He would eventually take the chequered flag fourth.

The younger Hansen went into day two asserting that ‘we’re up for a big fight’ – and that was exactly what he delivered. After keeping four-time World Champion Johan Kristoffersson honest in heat two, the 2016 European Champion then overtook his countryman not once but twice in his progression race, triumphantly declaring afterwards: “Anybody wondering if you can beat him – there you go!”

From there, the Swede looked primed to battle for glory, only for contact on the exit of the first corner in his semi-final to leave him with broken suspension and his hopes of a maiden victory of 2022 in tatters.

“Sometimes you hit the post in football and the ball bounces out, sometimes it bounces in. This time it bounced out, but we can take a lot of positives from the weekend, which really showed our team spirit,” the 24-year-old reflected. “To be honest, we were really slow starting off on both days, but we worked incredibly well to improve and the guys did an amazing job keeping the car in perfect race condition every time and working to improve the speed.

“I also worked to improve the driving on my side, everything came together step-by-step and we were on-track to improve even more. We had the chance to win and it was a shame we couldn’t follow through to the end of the weekend, but I’m so proud of everyone in our team. It’s a shame for the championship that it ended in the semi-final on Sunday, especially coming from a very tough day on Saturday, but we will bounce back stronger.”

Elder brother Timmy dominated his heat two and progression races on the second day – the latter of which left him with ‘a big smile on his face’ – only for an uncharacteristic spin in the joker on the last lap of semi-final two to relegate him to the outside of the grid for the final.

Undeterred, the 2019 World Champion outmanoeuvred all of his rivals at the start to storm into the lead, but a clash with Kristoffersson heading onto the second lap – for which the Volkswagen driver received a ten-second post-race penalty – dropped him to the tail of the pack and restricted him to fourth place at the flag.

“I think we put in a really good performance, especially on Sunday, but the result was out of my hands,” the 30-year-old mused. “We made a brilliant start in the final but got pushed off on the second lap. That was that. It’s disappointing, but we had a very strong showing as a team and I’m proud of our guys for their great work. We had the pace several times over the weekend even if not every time, and we’re fighting hard as a group.

“Of course, every time you finish on the podium when the competition is so tough you have to be satisfied, so the result on Saturday was good, but we had the chance – again – to take a win on Sunday and that got taken away from us, which was frustrating. Hopefully we can get our overdue first win in this electric era of World RX next time out at Spa.”

The Swedish siblings will travel to Benelux World RX of Spa-Francorchamps separated by just four points in third and fourth positions in the Drivers’ classification, with Hansen World RX Team second in the Teams’ table. Team Principal Kenneth Hansen offered his thoughts on a Portuguese weekend that had promised so much more, and a Belgian weekend that he hopes will finally deliver the kind of result the Swedish squad has been threatening all season.

“We struggled a little on Saturday at Montalegre to find the speed, but we worked hard, learned a lot and managed to come away with a podium,” summarised the 14-time European Rallycross Champion. “Most importunately, we saw some signs that we are moving in the right direction.

“These RX1e cars are tricky to work with, but on the chassis side we improved quite a lot and in Sunday’s progression race, we had a really good run with both drivers. Unfortunately, it changed quite dramatically in the semi-final, when Kevin had an incident that broke his rear suspension and Timmy didn’t really have the pace.

“He then made a magnificent start in the final but got spun off-track after contact on the second lap. We’re disappointed that we didn’t get a reward for the work we put in and the speed we showed, but that’s how it is sometimes. We will try to put things together even better in the next rounds at Spa.”