Saturday | 17 Sep 2022

‘New top speeds’ predicted on revised Montalegre layout

Kevin Hansen believes a ‘new top speed record’ could be reached in the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Montalegre this weekend (17-18 September), as brother Timmy predicts a sensational show from the series’ powerful new electric cars in Portugal.

Kevin Hansen believes a ‘new top speed record’ could be reached in the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Montalegre this weekend (17-18 September), as brother Timmy predicts a sensational show from the series’ powerful new electric cars in Portugal.

World RX has traded the technical, abrasive nature of Rīga’s Bikernieku trase two weeks ago for the fast and flowing, gravel-heavy Circuito Internacional de Montalegre – host to the second double-header of the 2022 campaign.

Last year, Hansen brothers Timmy and Kevin waged a fierce duel for supremacy in Portugal with four-time world champion Johan Kristoffersson – with the trio’s thrilling, no-holds-barred battle ultimately handing victory to Niclas Grönholm.

In Rīga, Kevin Hansen looked to have the measure of Kristoffersson as he led both finals, only to see his countryman leapfrog him in the joker lap – but after a brace of runner-up results elevated him to second in the Drivers’ standings, the 24-year-old is confident that reigning Teams’ champions Hansen World RX Team can take another step forward in performance this weekend with the Peugeot 208 RX1e.

“The season so far has been busy and very short,” he acknowledged. “We’ve had a very steep learning curve to climb and we’ve only run properly for six days in total, so we’re still looking for solid ground but I think we have found a good direction in which to take the car now, which is very exciting.

“Portugal is very different to Rīga, and it’s going to be very interesting setting the cars up for going sideways. I think we will have to compromise on set-up and I think we’ll see a new top speed record on the long straight, going more than 200km/h down into Turn One. Hopefully we can fight for wins this weekend.”

Indeed, Montalegre’s layout has been re-profiled this year, with the old joker lap now the first corner and a new, gravel joker from Turns Two to Five aimed at making the racing even more spectacular. Timmy Hansen – who sits level on points with his team-mate in the title table – is optimistic that it will. 

“Portugal is the most gravel-style circuit we have on the calendar, and I think it’s a favourite for all the drivers,” the 2019 world champion mused. “The rhythm you can get through the gravel section is incredible, throwing the car over the massive kerbs.

“Last year, Montalegre was possibly our strongest track in terms of pace, and while we didn’t win the event, we came second and third after a big battle in the final. I’ve got high hopes that we can be strong again and achieve some good results to climb back into the championship fight. I’m very excited to dive into the weekend.”

RX+ event passes are available for €7,99, with the full season pass now reduced to €29,99. More information can be found here, and race weekend tickets can still be purchased here.