Fri 02 Feb 2024

Hansen: It’s a trophy that sits very proudly in the cabinet

While we wait to find out who you will vote as the 2023 ‘Rookie of the Year’ in the FIA World Rallycross Championship support categories, let’s take a look back at a driver who has been there, done that – and since gone on to achieve significantly greater success in the sport...

When Kevin Hansen signed up to contest the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s top tier in 2016, he was already a multiple champion in the dual-surface discipline, having lifted the laurels in the JRX Junior Rallycross Cup in both 2012 and 2013, and in the World RX-supporting RX Lites Cup in 2015.

His Supercar experience, however, was much more limited – but progression to the final on his World Championship bow in Argentina at the end of the previous season suggested that his was a very special talent indeed. In 2016, he would confirm that impression – and in some style.

Making his full-time debut in an FIA-sanctioned championship, the Swede piloted his family-run Peugeot 208 WRX to four straight victories at Mettet, Hell, Höljes and Catalunya before capping a dominant campaign with a second-place finish in Rīga, leaving him 38 points clear of his closest pursuer in the title standings.

It was a performance that deservedly earned the then 18-year-old the distinction of the prestigious FIA ‘Rookie of the Year’ award, which he collected at the governing body’s annual Prize-Giving Gala. To this day, he remains the only non-single-seater driver ever to win it.

“It was an incredible season, winning four of the five rounds in our own team with the support of Red Bull and Peugeot,” recollects Hansen, who last year celebrated his finest finish in the world championship to-date as he wound up second overall behind Johan Kristoffersson.

“I was extremely proud. You only get one chance to win a trophy like that, and my name is on the roll of honour between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. To receive such a recognition from the FIA Drivers’ Commission – a group of people who were very successful in their own right in the sport – was amazing. It’s a trophy that sits very proudly in the cabinet back home.”

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