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Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
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Tue 12 Mar 2024

Mistaken identity at Essay and other stories

As we prepare to return to Essay for the first time in 13 years, let’s rewind the clock a quarter-of-a-century or so, to when Kenneth Hansen found himself facing a case of mistaken identity at the Circuit des Ducs...

As we prepare to return to Essay in France for the first time in 13 years for the opening round of the 2024 FIA European Rallycross Championship on 8-9 June, let’s rewind the clock a quarter-of-a-century or so, to when Kenneth Hansen found himself facing a case of mistaken identity at the Circuit des Ducs...


“I got called to the stewards to get a warning because they said I had shown the finger to another driver after a race,” Hansen – very much the dominant force of the period – recollected in Hal Ridge’s biography, Fourteen. “I know you can get quite into things, but normally I don’t do that – that’s not my thing.


“I asked who I was supposed to have shown the finger to. It was a French guy that I hadn’t driven against. I explained that and they checked the start list from the heat. I saw Marko was there. Red car, Citroën. It was him!”


Marko is Marko Jokinen, a rival who became a friend and – ultimately – family, after the pair married sisters Linda and Susann Bergvall. That season, they were indeed both driving red Citroëns – Hansen a Xsara and Jokinen a ZX – and as the latter recalls, the brothers-in-law had a number of skirmishes over the years, both on-track and off...


“Kenneth and his father Svend knew my father Mauno when he was racing in the European Championship,” Jokinen said. “It was Kenneth’s first season, in 1987. We arrived at the Austrian border on the way to the first round and they were in front of us. I stopped our bus just one metre away from theirs, then suddenly the reverse lights came on and ‘bang’!


“There was a line on the road and Svend had gone too far. You know they are quite strict in Austria, so he wanted to reverse quickly, he panicked with it being their first trip and not wanting to make a mistake, and he reversed into us. When Svend was alive, I would often remind him of that!


“We had some incidents [on-track]. I remember one time when he (Hansen) was behind me at Götene, his home track. He pushed me a lot. Yes, I was slower, but I was in front and he was not happy with that. I told him that if he thought I was going to use the indicator to let him past just because he was the European champion, then he was wrong!


“Kenneth was fair and professional, but hard too. He knew all the tricks. On the track, he knew how to play the game. He was the professional of his time with the testing and everything. The rest of us were just hoping to be the best; he was testing so he would be the best...”