Following his stellar start to the season in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, Timmy Hansen arrived in Portugal for Cooper Tires World RX of Montalegre this weekend having not triumphed for three rounds. On the opening day of action today (16 October), the championship leader showed that he has every intention of reigniting his winning ways.
Despite having only one previous podium finish to his name in Portugal, Hansen was bullish about his prospects ahead of the event – round seven of the 2021 World RX campaign – and optimistic that his Peugeot 208 would be well-suited to the demands of the challenging Circuito Internactional de Montalegre. The fastest time in both of the opening two qualifiers suggests that his confidence was well-placed.
“It’s been a very good day,” acknowledged the Hansen World RX Team star and 2019 world champion. “We have said many times that we wanted to come to a track with higher grip and then it should be better, and it’s good that we could actually prove that today.
“It’s fantastic to race here – the track is super cool with the gravel, the rhythm and the kerbs. Things haven’t been absolutely perfect since we made a change for Q2 that didn’t quite pay off as it made the car a bit harder to drive, but overall it’s the best day I’ve had in a long time.”
Niclas Grönholm sits second overnight for GRX-SET World RX Team following a solid run in his Hyundai i20 – the Finn surviving contact with stablemate Krisztián Szabó and Kevin Hansen at the beginning of Q1 – with defending title-holder Johan Kristoffersson completing the top three. The KYB EKS JC ace was delayed by a puncture and traffic, but his speed in clean air suggests he will be fired-up to fight back on day two.
Enzo Ide in the sister Audi S1 occupies fourth spot after holding his own amongst his more experienced and illustrious adversaries, with the younger Hansen fifth and Szabó sixth, the Hungarian coming off worst in the Q1 start-line squeeze and then losing further time due to a Turn One slide in Q2. Former British Rallycross Champion Ollie O’Donovan rounds out the order in his Ford Fiesta.
In the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s Euro RX3 class, Volland Racing team-mates Marat Knyazev, Yury Belevskiy and Kobe Pauwels set the pace, with one of the trio set to be crowned this weekend. In the fourth Audi A1, Timur Shigabutdinov produced the most dramatic moment of the day when he spectacularly rolled exiting the joker on the last lap of Q2, thankfully emerging unharmed.
The action continues tomorrow with Q3, Q4, the semi-finals and the all-important finals, all of which will be livestreamed in glorious HD quality via the cutting-edge RX+ broadcast platform. This premium production grants subscribers unparalleled and unprecedented access anytime, anywhere and on any device, offering a choice of viewing angles, in-depth expert analysis, special behind-the-scenes features and exclusive interviews.
The Full Season Pass is on offer for the special price of just €10,99 and guarantees access until the end of the year. The Event Pass for Cooper Tires World RX of Montalegre is available for €7,99. For more information or to subscribe, click here