Wednesday | 07 Sep 2022

Hansen reflects upon ‘bittersweet’ Latvian weekend

Kevin Hansen bounced back from a disappointing season curtain-raiser in Hell to score a podium double in Rīga last weekend (3-4 September) – but he stressed that Hansen World RX Team still has work to do if it is to reel in FIA World Rallycross Championship pace-setter Johan Kristoffersson.

Kevin Hansen bounced back from a disappointing season curtain-raiser in Hell to score a podium double in Rīga last weekend (3-4 September) – but he stressed that Hansen World RX Team still has work to do if it is to reel in FIA World Rallycross Championship pace-setter Johan Kristoffersson.

The younger of the two Hansen brothers uncharacteristically failed to reach the final in Norway last month, and after racing to the runner-up spoils on the opening day at the Bikernieki circuit, he looked set to miss out again on Sunday in Latvia, languishing at the bottom of the ranking following a collision with Ole Christian Veiby in heat two that broke the steering on his Peugeot 208 RX1e.

The Swede benefitted from a stroke of good fortune, however, in his progression race, benefitting from a clash between team-mate Timmy Hansen and CE Dealer Team’s Niclas Grönholm to take the win – with it, securing prime choice of grid position for the second semi-final.

Hansen led the way until the last lap, when a nudge from Veiby – which earned the Norwegian a ten-second penalty – sent him into a spin. He subsequently elected to begin the final from fourth position – and it would prove to be inspired.

As the elder Hansen and Kristoffersson tangled slightly into the first corner, Kevin swept around the outside of them both – and pole-sitter Veiby – to grab the lead. He held sway until shooting into the joker at the end of lap four – trying to wrong-foot the pursuing Kristoffersson with a late dive – and while his countryman’s devastating pace was ultimately enough to turn the tables, another second-place finish nonetheless vaulted the 24-year-old up the order into the same spot in the title standings.

“It was a very interesting and challenging weekend in Rīga,” Hansen acknowledged. “We had a lot of ups and downs, especially on day two, when we were faced with pretty much everything in terms of weather.

“We were missing a bit of performance so we had to really push ourselves as a team, almost outside of our boundaries to understand where to find the speed that we needed. We made some changes and learned a lot about the car, and I have to praise our mechanics for the incredible job they did.

“After leading both finals, it was obviously bittersweet to finish second; we did everything we could and tried to trick Johan, but he was very fast so we clearly have work to do and more performance to find.

“Still, overall we came away with two podiums, which represented a good recovery from Norway and a great bag of points at a track that hasn’t always been the best for us, so I was very pleased with that.

“It’s exciting to be developing and progressing these new cars – that’s a challenge we have been missing for a long time. They are a lot of fun to drive, I think we all agree, and you can really make a difference as a driver and fight your way through...”