Thu 11 Jul 2024

Hansen: We didn’t expect Höljes to be our strongest circuit

For the first time in 12 months, Kevin Hansen concluded an FIA World Rallycross Championship race weekend without a new trophy to add to his collection at Höljes (6-7 July), but the Swede is confident of stronger performances at the circuits still to come.

Entering the new season – the first of World RX’s ‘Battle of Technologies’ – Hansen was eager to build upon a stellar 2023 campaign that saw him clinch a career-best second in the Drivers’ standings.

The opening day of the ‘Magic Weekend’, however, proved to be a painful one for the Hansen World RX Team star. In both of his heat races on home soil, he was forced into the Turn One gravel trap by contact, leaving him a lowly ninth in the intermediate ranking.

Behind the wheel of his all-electric Peugeot 208 RX1e, he battled back in the semi-final to narrowly pip Niclas Grönholm – arguably the fastest driver in the heats – to third position and the last remaining spot in the final, in which further contact with team-mate Timmy Hansen going over the jump limited him to a sixth-place finish.

Unlike the worsening weather, Sunday began in much brighter fashion for the younger Hansen brother, who dominated his first heat race by more than four seconds. Just as things were beginning to look up, though, he found himself nudged into the gravel once again at the start of heat two, dropping him down the order.

Still, by dint of his earlier win, Hansen lined up on the front row of the grid for his semi-final, going on to take the chequered flag second in heavy rain. In the final, an early joker strategy then looked set to pay dividends as the 26-year-old piled the pressure on Grönholm in the scrap for the runner-up spoils, only for an error in the challenging conditions to relegate him to a frustrated fourth.

Hansen will next travel to Nyirád in Hungary – rallycross’ legendary ‘Red Cauldron’ – on 27-28 July sitting seventh in the title standings and targeting an immediate fightback.

“It was a tough weekend for us,” he acknowledged, “but there were lots of positives to take from Höljes. Although I ended up in the gravel three times out of four heat races, we made great progress and were looking really good for a podium on Sunday. Winning the second heat was definitely a highlight, but we just struggled a bit with the car in the wet and I made a small mistake in the final which I think cost me third place.

“We didn’t expect Höljes to be our strongest circuit – we need some longer straights for the electric cars to show their power and torque – but I’m really looking forward to Hungary, where we will try to bounce back. It’s an unbelievable track, with super-quick and super-narrow sections, and I can’t wait for us to bring the ‘Battle of Technologies’ there!”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM