Wed 31 Jan 2024

The World RX star who has beaten some of the current F1 crop

Timmy Hansen might be one of the world’s very best rallycross drivers, but for much of his formative years, the 2019 world champion looked destined for a rather different kind of career...

Timmy Hansen might be one of the world’s very best rallycross drivers, but for much of his formative years, the 2019 world champion looked destined for a rather different kind of career...

After winning the Swedish Karting Championship in 2008, Hansen embarked upon the well-trodden path into single-seaters – with considerable success. Aged just 17, he contested the Formula BMW Europe series with Mücke Motorsport. The following season, the Swede triumphed at Hockenheim and reached the rostrum on three further occasions as he pipped Ferrari Formula 1 star Carlos Sainz Jnr to third in the title standings.

In 2011, Hansen advanced to the Formula Renault Eurocup, and in a bumper field featuring the likes of Sainz and 2021/22 Formula E champion Stoffel Vandoorne, he placed seventh overall, winning from pole position at the Hungaroring and posting fastest lap for good measure.

Four further appearances in 2012 saw the Götene native do battle against future grand prix-winners Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon and two-time Formula 1 podium-finisher, Alex Albon, who Hansen beat in every race they both finished. Other big names on the grid included Formula E champions Nyck de Vries and Jake Dennis, and current Formula E championship leader, Nick Cassidy.

Notwithstanding that promise, though, fate was beginning to pull him in a different direction. After dipping his toe into the rallycross waters with a one-off outing at Dreux in France in 2011 in a Citroën Xsara Supercar, the now 31-year-old entered the penultimate round of the 2012 FIA European Rallycross Championship at Kouvola in Finland, where he piloted an ex-Sébastien Loeb car to an eye-catching fifth place-finish – ahead of US racing legend, Tanner Foust – demonstrating that his skills were not restricted to single-seaters.

Bitten by the rallycross bug – much like his father, 14-time European champion Kenneth Hansen and mother, 1994 ERA European Cup Group N winner Susann Hansen – the die was cast, and the rest, as they say, is history.

With 13 victories, 45 podiums, the 2019 World RX Drivers’ crown and four further top three championship finishes on his impressive CV, Timmy Hansen is doing the family name proud as one of the most successful competitors of the discipline’s modern era. But then, considering some of the drivers he defeated earlier in his career, it’s not really any wonder...

“Having started out in karting, my dream – like most young karters – was to get to Formula 1,” he acknowledged. “I did a few seasons trying to climb the ladder in single-seaters, racing against several current F1 drivers. We did pretty well, but it just didn’t quite work out. The higher you get, the more expensive it becomes and by 2012, we were struggling for budget so we decided to try a rallycross car to see how it went.

“Despite the family background, rallycross hadn’t really crossed my mind when I was younger, because I was so focussed on my childhood dream of Formula 1 – but when I drove a rallycross car for the first time in Sweden, it absolutely blew me away how quick it was.

“My debut in Finland went super-well. Being used to racing on asphalt, I wasn’t very good on the gravel to begin with or when it came to contact. I thought people were pushing me off – I didn’t realise that was par for the course in rallycross! But the speed was there from the start.

“I fell in love with rallycross – it’s just fantastic – and I definitely ended up where I belong. I love going racing with my family – this is perfect for me. Life couldn’t have turned out better.”

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