Showing posts with label Timmy Hansen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Timmy Hansen. Show all posts

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Team Hansen hails 'big step' after win and double podium in Catalunya.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull/Hansen Motorsport
Reigning team champions Team Hansen has taken a big step in Barcelona having claimed their first win and first double podium of the season. 

The 2020 season has ebbed and flowed for the Swedish team, and in the early stages of the season they struggled to find traction on low grip circuits, but despite that their drivers claimed three podium finishes before heading to the World RX of Barcelona (double-header). 

With no wins to there record after a strong championship winning 2019 season, returning to winning ways was there ultimate objective, and following extensive testing prior to the final double-header of the season. The Team Hansen brought some valuable knowledge and updates with them, which provided to work on the 1.133 km track

The Hansen brothers were in the mix all weekend, and on Saturday afternoon reigning champion Timmy Hansen "beat the unbeatable" to register his first win of the season ahead of Johan Kristoffersson and Kevin Hansen. The 'brodium' was on!

Whilst some cynics might have thought it would be a one-off for the Hansen's on Saturday. They were wrong, the Hansen's were back and just as strong on Sunday for round 8 of the World RX championship, but this time with Kevin Hansen ahead of Timmy in the intermediate rankings in third and fourth respectively. 

Sunday saw Timmy claim his second piece of silverware, having finished second in round eight of the World RX season finishing behind Johan Kristoffersson this time around after beating him a day before. 

"It's been a fantastic weekend with a massive step-up in performance for both me and Kevin. We are fighting for wins now which feels great. Yesterday [Saturday] we got it, today [Sunday] not quite, but it's still been a great weekend and I'm happy that the work that we've done in the lead-up to this weekend has paid off," Timmy Hansen said.

"We had great pace today but the race didn't quite go in our favour. I wasn't lucky enough to have any pole position starts today which wasn't ideal so qualified fourth, though I was hoping to beat Bakkerud in the semi-final, even with older tyres, to get myself that all-important front row grid slot."

"The final was carnage. I came up behind Johan and it was the same battle again from Saturday but this time around I couldn't quite manage it," he adds. "The only way to win was to put in a perfect run and I didn't quite put together a string of perfect laps in the final; I wasn't quite able to find that perfect rhythm from the day before."

After a third-place finish a day before, Kevin continued his strong form edging older brother in the intermediate rankings having claimed two second-place finish in Q2 and 3. Whilst his pace was quite promising all weekend, his day would end in the semi-finals. 

The semi-finals saw a very crowded first corner which meant Kevin was shuffled back to fifth place at the start, though he quickly recovered to fourth at turn three, sneaking past Timo Scheider on the inside of the long right-hander.

An early joker to find clear air didn't quite pan out as he caught Tamás Kárai a lap later and, while a brilliant overtake exiting turn six put him into fourth place, too much time was lost to Robin Larsson who held the last spot for the final.

"Today was a very promising day. The car performance was amazing in all three qualifying sessions and I was feeling really comfortable with the adjustments the team had made overnight. My speed was much better today so I was very happy with everything in that respect," Kevin Hansen said.

"We had a bit of a bad start in the semi-final but I felt we were in a good position by jokering first. That's a good place to be, first into the joker, so it was looking promising. Unfortunately, Karai had gone for the complete opposite strategy to us so getting past him lost us the time we needed to make the final."

"Overall this was a very strong weekend, a great return to form, and I feel like I'm getting better every weekend," he adds. "For the first time this year, I was within sight of a victory, and I don't plan to let it out of my sight again for the rest of the year. I'm even more excited to be heading to Spa now with the momentum we've built here, with the team back to winning ways."

With a win and two podium finishes in two days, Team Hansen's quest to retain the teams' championship is back on track. Heading to Barcelona with a 43-point deficit to KYB Team JC, Timmy and Kevin's efforts has narrowed that gap to only 16 points, with two rounds in Belgium and Germany still to go.

Timmy has also leap-frogged Niclas Grönholm to third in the drivers' championship having been six points behind heading into Barcelona. The Swede now has a 16 point advantage over Niclas with two rounds to go, meanwhile Kevin has inched closer to Grönholm and is just 12 points behind sitting fifth in the championship standings. 

"What was most impressive on Sunday was Kevin's level of performance increasing further," Kenneth Hansen, team boss said. "In past years he was slightly behind Timmy's pace but now he's at exactly the same level; sometimes even quicker. So we have two really quick drivers and cars. Today he found the level he's normally capable of delivering."

"Our win yesterday seems to have made Johan even hungrier to make sure he didn't get beaten to victory! He was clearly very determined to make sure Timmy didn't win in the final again today. But having one race like yesterday's final, where Timmy put in an absolutely perfect drive, is still a fantastic performance. My voice is almost gone from pushing Timmy so much on the radio!"

After a challenging start to the season, Kenneth Hansen says his team is back in the game to defend their teams' title, and they will continue to push with an aim to leap-frog KYB Team JC in the standings.

"We're back in the game for the teams' world championship now and we'll be doing everything we can to catch the Audis in the title race," Kenneth warns. "I believe with the direction we're going in and what we've learned this weekend will also help us in Spa. Now we've made a big step for this weekend, finding the next bit of pace will be even harder, as the rate of return on testing gets smaller and we're also quite late into the season now. Plus we need good weather! But we'll do some more testing and see what we find. We never stop pushing!"

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Kristoffersson comes out on top in Barcelona despite a first corner incident

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX
Johan Kristoffersson claimed his fourth win of the 2020 World Rallycross season in Barcelona, after an action-packed final.

It was a challenging day for the double world champion who was stuck in traffic all day, while his championship rival capitalized in clean air to claim the top qualifiers spot. 

Could Kristoffersson fight back?

The heat was on.. In the semi-finals, Kristoffersson started on the second row of the grid but made quick work of Kevin Hansen and Robin Larsson to claim second-place behind Ekström, he then leap-frogged his championship rival with an earlier joker lap to secure a front-row start for the final. 

Having struggled in the first half of the season, Andreas Bakkerud showed some great pace, and actually won Q3 ahead Mattias Ekstrom, and that was not all folks. Andreas also won semi-final two ahead of Timmy Hansen and Anton Marklund to claim pole position for the final. 

Lining up for the final, Andreas and Johan used two new front tyres, while Timmy Hansen behind had a set new tyres on his Peugeot 208 and Ekström behind with one new right front tyre. 

At the start, Kristoffersson got away well and briefly pulled a cars length clear of Bakkerud who was on the inside. On the turn into the first corner, Johan took a tighter line squeezing Andreas who hit his rear and bounced up. Seconds later, Bakkerud caught the wall on the inside as a direct result of that pitching him into the tyre barrier and ricocheting into the path of Robin Larsson who had nowhere to go. 

The collision instantly took Bakkerud and Larsson out of the race, while Mattias Ekström who had a bad start and had to steer around the stranded car.

Kristoffersson made it through turn one with a missing front wing (fender), while Timmy Hansen and Anton Marklund sneaked through the turn one melee, and the pair began to there race. 

Marklund jokered on lap one promoting Ekström to third, while Timmy Hansen closed the gap and was glued to Kristoffersson's rear bumper. The Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS driver opted for an early joker on lap 3 and was immediately on the rear of Ekström who was running in third at the time. 

On the next lap around, the two-time champion posted the fastest lap of the race, a 44.113-second lap. 

While Mattias Ekstrom made a rare mistake going into the final corner and running off the track. Stalled for a few seconds, and later got going well behind Marklund. 

Timmy could not capitalize on the clean air upfront, while Kristoffersson inched closer lap after lap. The gap fell as Kristoffersson upped his pace. Hanging on upfront, Hansen jokered on the final lap and come out in second 2.737-seconds behind Kristoffersson who claimed his 24th career win. 

After the race, Kristoffersson was asked what happened at turn one, to which he replied: "I didn't see anything because I was in front."

"I had a very good start, there was a lot of grip on the start line. I saw Andreas bog on the start in pre-launch and I bogged in pre-launch, and then I turned everything on, and then I had a great start. I saw Andreas drop back. So, I didn't expect him to be there. I thought that he was further back then he was... I almost had a car length and when I braked into the first corner he came like a rocket. I couldn't do anything differently to be honest."

Kristoffersson joked after the race that he jokered ahead of Timmy Hansen this time, after losing out yesterday (round 7). 

"I saw that Timmy had four new tyres and I had two new tyres. But today I gave it absolutely everything to manage to get him and I am just so happy," he said. "We had the pace all day, but we couldn't really show it because we have been in traffic every session. First of all the semi-final was very nice and then the final. So, I feel a bit relieved."

Heading into Barcelona, Team Hansen conducted an extensive testing programme and found some much-needed performance after lacking traction at earlier events. 

Timmy is quite pleased with his weekend overall at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona. "As a whole, it's a fantastic result. We have been putting in all that work and it paid off this weekend," he said. "The win yesterday will definitely be the highlight. That is something that I will carry with me and to share the podium with Kevin yesterday." 

"Today, it didn't quite go our way in the race. I think our pace was actually maybe better for us today and the car is going definitely progressing. I was lucky in the final with the carnage and came out quite well and in a good position. After that, I tried to take the battle to Johan, but today it went to him. So, congratz to him!" 

Anton Marklund, who also escaped the first corner carnage opted for a first lap joker, and after Ekström's mistake, he followed Hansen across the finish line in third place to claim his first podium of the season, while Ekström eventually finished the final 19.397 behind the race winner. 

"It's a big relief because we had that podium in Holjes in the first race and we finished P3, and unfortunately we got a penalty and moved down and after that, we didn't have the pace and the team has been working so hard and Bilstein have been working there arses off, and now it starts to pay off," Marklund said. "The car is starting to behave very well and we started to have the pace."

The FIA investigated the first corner incident between Kristoffersson and Bakkerud, and deemed that Bakkerud was at fault:

"After reviewing all of the video evidence MVRC from several angles car #3 (Kristoffersson) and #13 (Bakkerud) were in front row. #3 had a better start with a full car length ahead leaving enough space on his left side. Then #13 drove full speed without braking before T1, he then collided with #3. #13's right front wheel touched the left hand rear wheel of #3 and crashed into the wall. #13 was then pushed by #4 who could not avoid the collision. Based on the above facts the stewards decided to take NO FURTHER ACTION."

After a strong start on Sunday, Kevin Hansen started on the front row for semi-final one but was covered off by Ekström with Larsson attacking around the outside and Kristoffersson on the inside. With a first lap joker, Kevin attempted to undercut the field, but unfortunately, he got stuck behind Tamas Karai and was unable close the gap enough to Larsson in the closing stages of the semis and would go no further. 

While Timo Scheider also had good pace today but also missed out on a spot in the semi-finals along with Tamas Karai.

Niclas Gronholm and Timur Timerzyanov had a day to forget, as they both failed to progress past the semi-finals. It was no different for Enzo Ide (JC Raceteknik) whose day also ended after the semi-finals.

With two rounds of the championship remaining, Johan Kristoffersson now has a 27-point lead at the top of championship standings, meaning should he score four more points than Ekström in Belgium, he would be crowned a three-time World RX champion. 

While Timmy Hansen is still in with a mathematic chance just 56 points behind Kristoffersson with two rounds remaining. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien 

Masterful Ekström heads qualifying for second Barcelona round.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX.
Mattias Ekström topped qualifying for round eight of the 2020 World Rallycross season in Barcelona as championship leader Johan Kristoffersson failed to top a session for the second time this season.

The 2016 champion was the pacesetter in Q1 and Q2, with Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel's Andreas Bakkerud topping the table in Q3 to secure a pole position start for semi-final two. 

"To be honest I am surprised [to beat Ekström]," Bakkerud said. "I was the first car into the first car. Oh my god!"

Kristoffersson has not had the Sunday that he had hoped for finishing sixth in Q1 after taking a risk on higher RPM for the launch. While he tried to undercut the Hansen brothers on the inside, he was wary that a third reprimand could result in a five-point penalty, which could prove costly. In Q2, the Swede went backward off the line but came out in third as the race played out he progressed to P2 behind Andreas Bakekrud which meant he would finish the session in fourth overall. 

Q3 saw three five-car races following the withdrawal of Liam Doran. Kristoffersson would start on the outside, but was last through turn 1, while Bakkerud led the way from Ekstrom, Kevin, and Timmy Hansen. 

Ekström jokered earlier than his rivals in hope that he can undercut Andreas Bakkerud ahead, but the Norweigan had other plans and only took his joker lap on lap 3 seeing him leapfrog his former teammate. While Kevin Hansen who stayed out managed to pass Mattias as well to the claim second. 

Stuck behind Bakkerud and Kevin Hansen, Kristoffersson would end the session in fifth place, and for the first time this season, he will line-up on the second row of the grid for the semi-finals. 

Kevin and Timmy Hansen have enjoyed another strong day finding themselves in third and fourth respectively in the standings. 

Anton Marklund completes the top six ahead of Robin Larsson who will make the semi-finals this time after Enzo Ide was sacrificed on Saturday.

Despite winning Q3 Race 1, Larsson went backward off the grid due to a clutch issue, but it was like the seas parted for the reigning Euro RX champion as everyone he closed in on seemed to have an issue and he passed them with ease. 

"I had a problem with the clutch at the start. It slips from the gears to turn one," Larsson said. "The car feels good, but it's been one of those tough weekends when everything goes wrong." 

It's been a tricky morning for Niclas Grönholm who has been struggling to find the pace yesterday but admitted that Sunday has been slightly better. "The car was good in the morning practice, but the track is developing in the wrong direction," he said. "It's hard to be in the last heat. We have no luck!"

Timo Scheider who has had endless mechanical issues yesterday has had a slightly better Sunday splitting the GRX Taneco team-mates with Timur Timerzyanov in tenth. 

Tamas Karai and JC Raceteknik's Enzo Ide take the final two spots in the semi-finals. Ide was investigated for an incident with Oliver Bennett and was handed a three-second time penalty. 

All-Inkl Muennich Motorsport's Mandie August will miss out on a spot in the semi-finals by a single point, while Q2 race 1 winner Oliver Bennett has also missed out and will not progress any further after finishing the three qualifying sessions in 14th overall, ahead of Patrick Guillerme, and Liam Doran.

Doran's day came to a premature end due to engine issues while leading in Q2. The Brit was leading his heat race but an engine misfire earlier in the race led to engine failure on the final lap, which resulted in a spin and contact with the barrier as he crossed the finish line. 

"It started well and lead the race. Then I had an engine problem in the middle of the first lap then had an engine failure," Doran said. "The engine just let go and then had no engine to pull me out of the wall."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Hard work pays off as Team Hansen claims first win of the season.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull
Determined to get back to winning ways, Team Hansen arrived at Circuit de Catalunya with a number of updates after completing a few days of testing prior to the Barcelona double-header, and it has shown that these updates are in fact working. 

Whilst traction has been an issue for the team in the first half of the season, they seem to have found a solution this weekend, as reigning champion Timmy Hansen claimed his first win of the season in emphatic style, with younger brother Kevin Hansen finishing in third place to give the team a double podium. 

Timmy continued where he left off in 2019 by winning a nail-biting fight against championship leader Johan Kristoffersson by the slimmest of margins 0.417s. 

"There has so many times I've been chasing Johan since 2017 when they entered with that Polo. We have been chasing it as Team Peugeot-Hansen, Peugeot as a factory team, and now as Team Hansen the privateer, so it feels like we've beaten the unbeatable today," Timmy Hansen said. "This result is a big box tick for me; It's something I've been trying to achieve for a long time, to beat that car and driver combination in a World RX final."

With improved traction and pace, Timmy believes that his can be a lot faster tomorrow with some fine-tuning. 

"I believe we can go even faster tomorrow. There are still things we can fine-tune for this track and I know the more work there is, the faster we'll go. So I'm feeling very hopeful for tomorrow," he said. "If we can achieve the same again tomorrow as what we managed today that would be fantastic. Right now I'm happy and grateful for today's result but tomorrow it's about refocusing, doing another three qualifiers and two finals. Who knows, maybe we'll come home with two first-place trophies?"

Kevin Hansen also claimed his second podium of the season, after his second place at the team's home round in Sweden. He slotted in behind Timmy in the final and came out well clear of Niclas Grönholm securing third at the finish line.

"It's been an amazing day. It's great to get some pay-off for all the hard work we've been putting in since Finland and finally we're back on the top step with a 'brodium'!," he said. "This is an amazing place to do it, the site of our one-two finish last year, to come back to the top and win again."

"Our speed has definitely improved since the last round, so we definitely deserve this result. We need to keep our head down now; we've got a good car and we can improve it further. There are still some small things on my side that can be improved to unlock more speed."

"I'm in a good place for tomorrow regarding tyres, so generally, I'm really happy with how the weekend is going," he concludes.

14-time EuroRX champion and Team Principal, Kenneth Hansen finds some satisfaction that his team was able to chase down the Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS Polo R Supercar. 

"It was absolutely fantastic to watch the end of this race, with Timmy chasing down the Polo; a very good factory car that we've had some difficulty matching the pace of in the past," he said.

Whilst Team Hansen claimed their first win of the season, Kenneth says the team needs to continue working as they have not found a perfect set-up just yet.

"All the development, testing, brainstorming we've done so far needs to continue this weekend because we haven't found a perfect set-up yet," he adds. "But we continued to improve our set-up throughout the day and planned our tyre strategy well, which made a difference."

"We really needed this one-three result today, to really demonstrate our performance and potential again with meaningful results. Now, we will focus to try and repeat this performance tomorrow."

"It will be difficult but we are feeling confident and we won't be staying still with our development either; we will be trying more changes to close the gap even further."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Team Hansen hopes to "close the gap" with updates in Barcelona.

CREDIT: FIA World RX
Defending team champions Team Hansen returns to Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona where they claimed a double podium in 2019 and will hope to replicate that result once more this weekend. 

It's been a season of highs and lows for the Hansen's who hoped to start the season as strongly as they had ended it in 2019, but things didn't go their way from round one. But there was some light at the end of the tunnel with Kevin Hansen securing the teams best result of the season, a second-place finish at round two of the championship in Sweden followed by two third-place finishes for reigning champion Timmy Hansen, but the team will hope to claim there first win of the season in Barcelona, Spain. 

As in 2019, the team has struggled with grip issues on low abrasion track, and they often excelled on high grip tracks, but during the Latvian-Barcelona "break" the team have been flat out testing in an attempt to find some much-needed improvements. 

"We've been pushing really hard with our testing programme since Latvia. We want to be winning races this year so we're pushing the limits beyond what we'd normally do, running our equipment for much longer than usual to make sure we get it right. But I like this level of commitment we're taking, which of course carries some risk with it," Timmy Hansen said. 

"I've conducted many rallycross tests over the years and the results we got out of our test last week were some of the best we've ever had. I'm very excited to be coming to Barcelona with this fresh approach we've got and the multiple updates we've brought with us."

Barcelona represents a strong opportunity for the team to score its best result of the 2020 season to date, having been the site of a 1-2 finish for Timmy and Kevin last April. The 1-2 finish last year meant the Hansen brothers would join an exclusive club alongside the Schumacher and McRae families in having siblings score a 1-2 finish in an FIA championship event.

While Johan Kristoffersson has been the benchmark this season, Timmy hopes that the multiple updates they have will assist them in closing the gap to the double World Champion this weekend. 

"I'm feeling optimistic but the only way to know how much difference it's going to make is once we're up against the stopwatch at a race weekend. The car does feel drastically different, in a positive way, so my hope is that this is the step we've been looking for," Hansen adds.

"There are so many good things going for us at this track, considering our history of results here and the updates we're bringing, so I hope that will close the gap enough for us to win some races this year."

In the lead-up to the World RX of Catalunya this weekend, both Team Hansen drivers have been quite busy. Timmy has been hard at work testing updates to the team's Peugeot 208 WRX Supercar, and testing the Spark Odyssey 21 E-SUV for Andretti United Extreme E team, while Kevin made his rally raid debut with the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team at last week's Andalucía Rally, finishing fourth in the SSV class.

"While Timmy was testing I was taking on a great new adventure in Andalucía, racing a buggy with the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team. It's the most fun thing I've done all year and I'm so glad I was given the opportunity to try it out," Kevin said.

"But now I'm switching back to the complete opposite of rally raid, with short racing on a circuit. This is my job, my passion, my life. It's been a month now since we were last in the 208 Supercar, so I can't wait to get the rallycross feeling back."

While Team Hansen has had good results in recent years at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, on the 1.135KM track. Timmy Hansen and Kevin Hansen are both seeking their first wins of the 2020 season and will hope that the new updates will bring them the desired results. 

"We had a great result here last year but of course, we can't take anything for granted, considering how strong our competition is. But we haven't been servicing the cars and sleeping since Riga. We've been doing testing and we've now got some updates on the cars that have shown positive signs," team boss Kenneth Hansen, said. "If those signs are as good as our first impressions suggest, this could be a good weekend for us."

Kenneth Hansen confirmed that the team focused on finding different set-up options, tweaks to the chassis and engine, and optimizing the set-up of the dampers in hope of finding some much-needed performance. 

"There were limits on how much we could test due to factors like the weather but we've done several test days with different set-up options, tweaks to the chassis and engine, and further optimizing the set-up of our Öhlins dampers," he said.

"The plan is simple: to be battling for wins again. Let's see what happens this weekend."

Written By - Junaid Samodien.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

World RX: The best poker game ever?

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
After a dramatic end to the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship, everyone eagerly awaited the start of the 2020 season, with the COVID-19 pandemic helping to increase this anticipation. 

However, while the new season would see four of the last world championship winners on the grid, most carried caution to their anticipation as Johan Kristoffersson left the championship in 2018 after a very dominant and quite predictive nature. This might just have been why the 2019 season was so spectacular, but with the return of the latter, everyone feared that we might go in the same direction as Formula 1 went with Lewis Hamilton during the past few years. 

Most would have rightfully betted that Kristoffersson would lead the championship after three double-headers, but fewer would have predicted that the former powerhouse would struggle a bit to keep the rest behind. 

    1. A tactical warfare 

Even fewer would have predicted that tactics (and not sure speed) would be at the order of the day. With Mattias Ekström taking Jānis Baumanis’ (JC Raceteknik) seat at the last moment, the paddock became increasingly wary of this. 

The Swede might just have amazed himself at Höljes, taking the second win of the championship and changing his plans for the following weekend as he would once again take part in the Finnish double-header. 

While Kristoffersson and Niclas Grönholm won the next two rounds, Ekström kept consistent. Grönholm again took the top qualifier position in Riga on Saturday, but a chaotic start to the final saw Kristoffersson take the win, with Ekström taking second. It went even further as the latter took the top qualifier spot on the next day and won the Sunday event in Riga. 

Yet, with both Kristoffersson and Ekström in the pack, it is becoming evidently clear why and how the 2016 – 2018 championships were won by these two. Tyre strategies, mind games, and team help is now the order of the day and we might just see this until December when the 2020 championship finishes. 

Niclas Grönholm leads Mattias Ekström and Johan Kristoffersson in Finland.
PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX.

    2. GRX Taneco with immense start-line power 

For some, Niclas Grönholm stands as the 2019 champion, who never took the title. Missing two rounds due to an appendicitis operation, the Finn entered the last Cape Town round with a mathematical chance of still claiming the title. While this was never to be the case, he took the win at the Killarney International Raceway. 

Ending the Höljes weekend, the odds were stacked against the GRX Taneco team as they seemed to struggle with pace and set-ups, compared to the Volkswagen Polo and the Audi S1 Quattro’s.

The next weekend, however, saw different circumstances as Juha Rytkönen finished the first day in the second-place. The taste of champagne became even sweeter on day 2 as Grönholm silenced critics by fending off immense pressure from Kristoffersson and Ekström to win his home round, with teammate, Timur Timerzyanov with him on the podium. 

Showcasing that this was not just a once-off, Grönholm took TQ on day 1 at Riga, however, a difficult first corner propelled Kristoffersson to the win. 

Joining the GRX SET squad from EKS machinery, Krisztián Szabó showcased his true form this year by finishing inside the top-10 consistently and winning his race heats. All this basically comes down to immense starts with all three of the Hyundai’s having great starts in almost every race. 

Will these good launches (starts) give the team extra armor in the fight for the championship?

Andreas Bakkerud leading rival Timmy Hansen and Mattias Ekström.
PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX.

    3. Where are the 2019 contenders? 

Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud finished the 2019 season behind a controversial curtain, which will be disputed for many years to come. Finishing the season on equal points, many regarded them as the two fiercest competitors for 2020. 

Unfortunately, this is yet to be proven, with Hansen only claiming a season-best third place on the first day in Finland followed up by third in Riga. While this might not seem that bad,  Hansen Motorsport is yet to prove its consistency, compared to GRX Taneco, KYB Team JC, and Kristoffersson Motorsport. 

With even more bad luck, the Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel combination started off much worse than anticipated. Following GCK’s progress during the past few years, it was thought that the Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel's connection would propel them to the front. 

Andreas Bakkerud is yet to reach a podium position in 2020, with the Norwegian seemingly struggling to find his same form with the Megane as he showcased with the EKS run Audi in 2019. 

A sparkle of hope came through as Bakkerud started to show some form on the final day in Riga as he slotted into the second row of the second semi-finals. Fighting it out with Timo Scheider for P3 in the second semi-finals during race 6, the Megane of Bakkerud came second best, hitting a grass bank pretty hard. 

A broken driveshaft sees the wheel come off Doran's Renault Megane.
PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX.

    4. British bomb not igniting

Liam Doran, the package deal for the Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel link-up, is finding the best of bad luck in 2020. The British driver seems to have a combination of bad luck and problems with the car during every round this year. 

With this, he is certainly the most inconsistent driver thus far, with no necessary fault of his own. 

Only one top-10 position thus far proves this. 

Is it due to Doran’s vigorous driving style or might it just be the GCK machinery not working as well? 

In 2018, it might have been easy to place money on Johan Kristoffersson as the likely champion, yet, the 2020 season is promised to be far less predictable, with the double World Champion yet to win a Sunday event. Having won 50% of the 2020 events thus far, he is not as dominant as he once was with PSRX Volkswagen Sweden. 

Will Kristoffersson take his third championship, Ekström his second, or Grönholm his first? 

Written By - Franco Theron (Galimoto Media)

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Mixed emotions for Team Hansen in Latvia

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull.
Team Hansen have not had the start to season that they had hoped for after being crowned World Champions in 2019. 

But it's not all doom and gloom, as both Hansen brothers have stepped onto the podium this season, Kevin with a second place in Sweden and Timmy with two third-place finish in Finland and Latvia.

This season has been rather tough forTeam Hansen as they have struggled with starts, grip and set-ups, but there have been glimpses of pace which still needs to be unlocked. On Sunday (round six), Kevin set the unofficial lap record at the Bikerneiki Sports Complex - a 48.098 second lap to show the team's potential. 

Round five of the championship on Saturday saw Timmy claim a third-place finish, while his teammate and younger brother Kevin brought his Peugeot 208 across the line in fourth-place.

Being a double-header weekend, Sunday saw all the teams take to the track for the sixth round of the championship, but the smallest of margins meant Timmy would not claim another podium finish, rather he would take home a fourth-place finish with Kevin making the cut after Timo Scheider was disqualified for an incident with Andreas Bakkerud. He would cross the finish line in sixth. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull.
The reigning world champion won two of his qualifying races, in Q1 and Q3, to qualify fourth overall and pick up a front row start for the semi-final. A straightforward lights-to-flag run in second place in the second semi-final meant a second-row grid slot for the final, though Timmy was beaten to turn one by both Niclas Grönholm and Robin Larsson and fell to fifth-place.

The fightback began quickly, with Timmy taking the joker on lap one and turning in a sequence of fast laps to put himself back in contention for a podium finish. Sensing the danger, Larsson took the joker [lap] on lap three, only just managing to get out ahead of Timmy as he covered the inside line on the exit of the last corner.

While Timmy missed out on a podium finish he proved a point by snatching fourth from Grönholm on the last lap, sweeping around the outside of the final corner as the Finn emerged from his joker lap.

"In general this weekend I'm extremely happy with what we delivered and the results we got," Timmy Hansen said. "With the pace we had and the launches we had, this was the maximum we could achieve. The team hasn't made a single mistake all weekend, and I haven't made any mistakes on track, so we extracted everything we had."

"That said, we also want more, we want to be able to fight for the top step on the podium. To do that, we need to take one more step with the whole package that we have. There have been good signs but we need to put it together."

"Our launches were better today and the car was better this weekend in general, so we're taking steps. But it's not easy at this level to gain everything that you need to suddenly be at the front." 

"It's about making little steps and this weekend we took several little steps. It's a hard game, we're a small team, but I believe in the crew we have and we'll keep on fighting," he adds.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull.
While Kevin Hansen only made it to the final after Timo Scheider was disqualified. He had nothing to lose and repeated his strategy from the day before, swinging the car out wide on the outside, which had given him second on the track a day earlier. It didn’t quite work this time around, he tucked in behind Timmy into turn three.

There was still pace on display as he caught Grönholm towards the end of the race, but couldn’t find a way past and finished in sixth.

"I feel I have more and can do more, but the starts still aren't quite there. We're lacking a really small amount of pace, not much at all, but it's tough because it makes a big difference to the result," Kevin Hansen said. 

"We did the maximum possible and I still have a very good feeling with the car, which is a great positive, having that full confidence and not making any mistakes. Being in scenario two for FIA Covid-19 protocols this weekend meant we were able to bring Eric Färén with us as an extra team member to help us even more, which has been useful as well."

"It was very disappointing not to get through my semi-final on speed; I felt I had more speed than both Larsson and Grönholm," he adds. "I went to the pre-grid for the final even though I was sure I wouldn't be the one called up if a grid slot opened, so I'm very surprised they called me in. But understanding the rules afterward, going to pre-grid was a great choice!"

“I was a bit more relaxed than I usually am before a race so it took me about a lap to get fully back into my rhythm again. I feel like I had a good run in the final, even if I was maybe a little too aggressive at the first corner. But when you are starting last, there's nothing to lose of course."

Kenneth Hansen, the team principal of Team Hansen admits that his team can learn from their performance in Riga (Latvia), and aim to take a step forward in Spain in a few weeks time. He adds that Team Hansen will not give up just yet. 

"We need to look at what happened, what we learned, and find some further progression before heading to Spain in a few week's time," Hansen said. 

"It's very close this year and we don't have quite the level of performance we would wish for, but we don't give up. We're definitely pushing to get to the front and fight for wins again."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Team Hansen hope "to take a step forward" in Riga.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
Team Hansen has not had the start to the season that they had hoped for after being crowned champions in 2019. However, after a 3-day test in Sweden, the team aims to take a step forward in Latvia. 

The Hansen brothers have claimed two podium finishes thus far in 2020, with Kevin picking up a second-place finish in Sweden (currently fifth place in the drivers' championship), and reigning World RX champion Timmy scoring third place in finish Finland (ranked fourth in the championship). Their combined efforts have put Team Hansen only 19 points off the top of the teams’ championship with more than half the 2020 season to go.

Latvia will mark the half-way point of this year’s World RX season, as it hosts the third double-header event of the year. 

During the three-week gap since the previous round at Kouvola (Finland), the Hansen's have been hard at work making refinements to their Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars, conducting a three-day test at Lidköpings Motorstadion with their two drivers.

"The start to this season has been a little bit difficult at times but overall it's still been a positive beginning," Timmy Hansen said. "We did a three-day test near the workshop to evaluate the areas we'd been struggling with so far this year, as well as developing some new things. Hopefully, that'll pay off this weekend."

"We've definitely done everything we can to take a step forward for now and although this season is tricky, with there not being much time between the races, the test went well, so I'm excited to see what happens this weekend."

Timmy Hansen returns to Riga, a venue with fond memories after claiming a third-place finish in 2016, and a victory in 2019, which was key to his championship fight. 

"I won here last year which was a key point in taking the world championship, so I'm excited to be coming back to Riga and see how we fare," he said. "With this being another double-header round, we need to be sharp and on the pace from the beginning, as there's no time to make any significant changes between the rounds."

With a return to a track expected to suit the team's Peugeot 208 better than the opening four rounds, the team is hoping for a first win of the year.

"Riga is a very nice track. It has suited us very well in the past; it's more of a high-grip circuit like Loheac, Abu Dhabi and Barcelona, which is the type of circuits we're best at," Kevin Hansen said. "Johan has won here twice in the past of course but I feel that we've got a good car for this track and it should suit us more compared to the tracks we've raced on so far this year."

“We've been testing recently to make improvements in specific areas and we feel like we're arriving in Riga with fewer question marks, which should hopefully bring us a little bit more performance from the first race of the weekend. It looks like it'll be a dry, warm weekend, and it's great to have fans safely back at the track for this event.

“Riga feels a bit like a street circuit; its corners are tight and twisty, with some fast stretches in between, but more than anything you need to watch out for the walls and barriers everywhere," the Swede adds. "There are plenty of run-off areas in Höljes and Kouvola but here, it's a bit like we're competing at the Monaco of rallycross."

The purpose-built Biķernieki circuit in Latvia features the longest lap of the year in both distance and time, with a lap length of 1.295km and a track record time of 48.485s.

"Riga is a bit more like circuit racing compared to what we had in the first two rounds," says  Kenneth Hansen, Team Boss. "It's a challenging track because of how different it is, with it being the longest lap of the season and also the hard jump early in the lap, which requires a delicate set-up balance between softness to cope with the landing but stiffness for grip elsewhere in the lap."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Consistency key to maximizing results in condensed season for Timmy Hansen.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
Reigning World RX champion Timmy Hansen believes that consistency is key to maximizing results in the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship.

Hansen is currently fourth in the drivers' standings (41 points) behind championship leader Johan Kristoffersson, with younger brother Kevin in fifth overall.  

Whilst the season did not get off to the way Team Hansen expected, Kenneth Hansen (team boss) was able to figure out the reasons behind the team's pace in Sweden, which saw Timmy showing a stronger pace in Kouvola, after confirming that he did not feel as comfortable in the Peugeot 208 WRX as he was in 2019.

With some work done between Sweden and Finland, the Peugeot's were slightly stronger, but still off the ultimate pace of Johan Kristoffersson (the benchmark). 

On Saturday, Timmy returned to the podium with a third-place finish, while Kevin finished in sixth-place. With overnight rain saw track conditions became tricky seeing Timmy Hansen missing out on a podium finish by 0.7s.

Kevin definitely had the pace to progress to the finals on Sunday, but the slimmest of margins saw him miss out (0.060s). 

"It was a wet race so we had to set-up the car completely for those conditions, and we made some progress in that area," Kevin Hansen said. "I had the best feeling during the semi-final; I was very fast and had never felt so confident in the wet, so I was very happy in that respect."

Although only one of two cars made it to the final, Timmy Hansen had a good start from the second row of the grid, he ran a touch wide at the first corner seeing Ekstrom, Bakkerud, and Timerzyanov sneak up the inside, and while Bakkerud ran into technical issues at turn two, Timmy moved into P5. And, despite a fight in the final corner between Gronholm, Ekstrom, Timerzyanov, Kristoffersson - Timmy was not close enough and finished in fifth-place.

"The key was consistency and being able to maximize our pace when the opportunity arose," Timmy Hansen said.

The condensed 2020 World RX calendar has posed unique challenges to the teams this season, with three doubleheaders - two events per weekend opposed to the normal two day single event weekends, which will return in the second half of the season. Any mechanical or technical issues would punish drivers due to the quick turnaround times. And, Timmy credits Team Hansen for a clean start to the season thus far. 

"The team is really strong together; we're very motivated and everyone is working very hard. The car's still very strong and it got to the finish line every time with no technical issues," the 2019 World Champion said. "They've had the most difficult World RX events ever, doing two weekends with two full championship rounds each back-to-back, so the team has done an incredible job of keeping the car in one piece. So I need to thank them for all their work, for being able to figure out the problem that slowed me down in Sweden, and we'll continue to work on finding more pace between now and Riga."

Double World RX Champion Johan Kristoffersson returned to the championship this season, and whilst he has dominated qualifying, he hasn't had it all his own way only converting two of four finals into wins. Timmy Hansen believes that despite Johan's strong start to the season, he aims to get onto the top step of the podium this season. 

"I want to win a couple of races this year. Johan is incredibly strong and has been dominant so far this year but he is beatable, as others have shown twice now," he said. "I also want to get onto the top step of the podium this year and we'll keep fighting towards that."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Team Hansen ready to bounce back after 'mixed' season opener.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Media.
Team Hansen are keen bounce back after a weekend of highs and lows in Sweden, as the FIA World Rallycross Championship enters its second phase this weekend with the third and fourth rounds of the season in Finland. 

Whilst Sweden ushered in the new season, it wasn't the smoothest of starts for Timmy Hansen on homesoil. However, his younger brother Kevin lifted the team spirit with a second-place finish in the second round of the championship at the same venue.  

Team boss, Kenneth Hansen believes that his team were at a slight disadvantage compared to their rivals who competed in the RallyX Nordic "Magic Weekend" in Höljes with 2020 specification machinery. 

And while the dust settles on the season opener in Sweden, the World RX championship moves to Finland for the second doubleheader of the season. 

Kouvola's addition to the 2020 calendar was somewhat sudden but also highly welcomed, as other events dropped off the calendar due to complications from the ongoing Covid-19 situation. With past experience at the track for both Timmy and Kevin, it's a favourite circuit of both the team and drivers.

"Kouvola is a great track. It has strong character, good jumps, elevation changes, fast and slow corners, so it's nice to be driving there again. I think I have the lap record there but I'm not sure! I've had some good races there and I'm looking forward to going back," Timmy Hansen said.

The defending champion struggled with traffic all weekend in Sweden, but he firmly believes that Team Hansen has the package to challenge for wins in 2020. 

"I believe we have what it takes in our package to win a couple of races and to be able to fight at the top," he adds. "Last weekend wasn't normal and my hope is Finland is closer to what we would consider 'normal'. The car is still good, so we're hoping for a better result in Finland."

Kouvola is a track of two very distinct halves: the first half almost like Rally Finland, with wide, fast roads featuring jumps, while the second half is tight, twisty and technical.  

Kevin returns to a track with fond memories having made his first appearance at an international-level rallycross event and won his first-ever RX Lites race at the age of 16.  

"Kouvola is quite similar to Höljes, with a lot of elevation changes. I love the track; it's got a good flow and I think we have a good car for it too," Kevin Hansen said.

Having stepped onto the podium in Sweden, the 22-year-old expects to score more podium finishes in Finland but admits that the team needs to keep pushing. 

"I expect we'll be able to score podiums in Finland. That's the aim, and we need to keep on our toes and do the maximum possible," he said. "If we want to reach the podium or score wins, we have to keep pushing step-by-step beyond where we are now."

Whilst Team Hansen did not have the pace they expected in Sweden, rounds 3 and 4 of the condensed calendar will give the team strong motivation to perform at their best. 

"It's good to be back racing so soon after the last round. We didn't have the result we expected last time, so we have strong motivation to be back on track again and trying to perform to our best," Team Hansen team principal, Kenneth Hansen said. "It's going to be quite unusual this time, as it's the first time we're racing with only World RX present and none of the support categories."

"Both Timmy and Kevin know and love this circuit, so they'll have a slight advantage over the drivers who've been here before. But there won't be a big difference compared to the top-calibre drivers who've not raced here before; they'll get into it quickly."

Written By - Junaid Samodien. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

"We expected to have slightly better pace" in Holjes - Kenneth Hansen.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull.
Team Hansen did not have the easiest of starts when the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship season finally got underway in Sweden, with Kevin Hansen leading the team's charge in fourth and reigning champion Timmy Hansen finishing eighth in the drivers' standings after two rounds.  

The reigning champions' hopes were high for a strong result during the return of World RX after an extended break. And while there were signs of strong pace at times, the team's key focus is to find improvements ahead of the third round of the championship this weekend in Finland.

Ultimately circumstances conspired against either reigning world champion Timmy Hansen and his younger brother, Kevin Hansen, from scoring a top result in round 1 on Saturday. Both drivers faced a similar fate at turn two, as Kevin was pushed wide into the joker lap in his semi-final and Timmy spun around in the final.

After overnight fine-tuning for the second round of the season in Holjes, Kevin got off to a much better start compared to his brother who started on the outside in Q1 and ultimately got caught in traffic. Whilst Kevin was consistently in the top five throughout the three qualifying sessions, Timmy worked his way out of the dropzone to ninth place, to qualify for the semi-finals.

Kevin Hansen had a much smoother run in the semi-final compared to his brother who got pushed wide by Andreas Bakkerud on lap one and took the joker lap. Whilst Marklund jokered to cover off Hansen. The GCK Bilstein driver emerged alongside Timmy and the two fought for track position with Hansen coming out on top. Timmy later recovered to fourth-place but after colliding with Andreas Bakkerud and Timur Timerzyanov in an attempt to get the final spot in the final, he was disqualified from the semi-final.

In the thrilling final, Kevin took the joker lap right behind Mattias Ekstrom on lap one in an attempt to jump traffic. A lap later, Robin Larsson, Timo Scheider, and Andreas Bakkerud took the joker lap. With a hard push, Kevin was able to jump Scheider and Bakkerud but emerged from the joker lap on par with Robin Larsson and the two fought all the way around the lap. On lap 5, Larsson ran into some trouble, and in a bold move around the outside of the KYB Team JC driver exiting the velodrome, Kevin took third place, which became second when Johan Kristoffersson was given a five-second penalty for a track marker infringement.

14-time European Rallycross Champion and team boss, Kenneth Hansen believes that despite struggling in some conditions on Saturday (season-opener) and encountering some unexpected issues, the team figured out the issues and were better prepared for the second round on Sunday. 

"I think we adapted very well. Kevin got into a good rhythm and his pace was very stable, pushing really hard. We weren't completely on the pace today (Sunday) but once we make some small adjustments, we'll be there," Kenneth Hansen said. "We continued to learn the upgrades we'd developed and tested; we didn't quite get that right [on Saturday] but today (Sunday) we started going in the right direction."

"I'm quite sure Timmy will be back at the front next weekend, especially as he struggled a bit with having to start on the outside for every race today, which isn't easy."

"We expected to have slightly better pace from the start but we've seen some small things in the car which changed its behaviour quite a lot. We also know that while Höljes is a home track for our team, it's also traditionally been quite a difficult one for us over the years."

The next stop in the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship is Kouvola, Finland. A track that last featured on the World RX calendar in 2014, and an unknown for the teams and drivers, which poses a unique challenge. 

"It will be very interesting to try this car in Finland, to see how well it works around Kouvola, how much speed we can gain there, and how close we can be to the Volkswagen and Audis, with the hope that we'll really give them a fight next week," Kenneth said.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Ekström wins after thrilling battle with Kristoffersson.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Media
Mattias Ekström has beaten Johan Kristoffersson in a thrilling six-lap straight fight for victory in the second round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Holjes. 

The 2016 Champion has been Kristoffersson's biggest rival all weekend. Ekström admitted after round one (yesterday), that he could give Kristoffersson a proper run for his money in a straight fight. 

Ekström started on the second row of the grid after being beaten in semi-final 2 by his teammate Robin Larsson, whilst Kristoffersson started from pole having topped qualifying and winning his semi-final. 

In the final, Larsson had the best launch seeing him, and Kristoffersson fight for track position into turn one. Whilst they fought, Ekström opted for his first lap joker tactic that has worked for him all weekend and gained clean air with only Kevin Hansen behind. 

Larsson went on the attack in the early stages keeping Kristoffersson very honest at the front of the field, but by lap two, the chasing Swede, Timo Scheider, and Andreas Bakkerud took the joker lap. Thus promoting Mattias Ekström into second and clean air with no real distraction. 

From there he was able to post fastest lap after fastest lap reeling in Kristoffersson. On lap 4, Johan had a 2.175-second buffer to Mattias and on lap five responded with the fastest lap of the race to extend the gap to 2.711 seconds, but Mattias eeked closer taking a further four-tenths out of the round one winner. 

In an attempt to drag out a few more tenths, Kristoffersson pushed the limits of the joker lap, but the gap was not enough and he emerged behind Ekström. In a pursuit to try and muscle his way past, the double World Champion tried a number of different lines, but to no avail. 

The pair crossed the line split by 0.194s, but later Kristoffersson was handed a five-second time penalty for hitting two-track markers on the joker lap. 

"Today we made constant adjustments because of the weather, and I have to say that Robin [Larsson] was really contributing and did really good starts. He took me in the semi-final, but then I got clean air in the final, which was key to my win," Ekström said. "I had a clean run and the car worked fine. I heard the gaps to Johan and I could hear that I was reeling him in and then I knew just to bang every lap inch-perfect to beat him and it's quite a pleasure because it's quite a while since someone beat him in that car fair and square because it hasn't happened many times."

"We made a step over the last two years with them [KYB]. To win is what I love and today is a great win!"

Johan Kristoffersson was left with a big smile despite finishing in third-place. 

"It was such a fun final," he said. "First of all, Robin [Larsson] had a good start from there on we had a little bit of a wiggle, so lost a little bit of time in the beginning and then started to push and getting into the rhythm. The car was working fine, so I am happy with that. Then I got the gap to Mattias and I heard that he was really close and then I heard no the radio that I really need to push. Then I got told that I increased the gap a little bit and I am not sure if it was correct or not, and then I had the joker and I knew that I would have to do everything in the joker and I actually cut both the pillars and I was meant to do one, but it turned out to be two and then got a five-second penalty. That was a fight to enjoy!"

Despite his mighty charge in the opening laps, Robin Larsson slowed into the velodrome section, and Kevin Hansen took third with a ballsy outside move soon followed by Timo Scheider. 

"I was there all day challenging the guys ahead a bit, but just not quite enough," Kevin Hansen said. "Then I took advantage of Robin's mistake in the final, and I think it was a pretty bold move around the top (outside) when I did it. I was like... what am I doing? Am I completely crazy or what? It was mega fun. And to get home from Holjes with a podium is great. It's a good start for the team, but we need to keep working hard because we have two fast guys to beat."

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Media.
The 2019 EuroRX Champion ended the final in fifth, while Andreas Bakkerud brought it home in a distant sixth +31.949 seconds behind Ekström.

A heated battle in semi-final two saw reigning World RX champion Timmy Hansen, Timur Timerzyanov, and Anton Marklund not making the cut. 

Timmy Hansen was later disqualified "unsportsmanlike behavior during competition" after pushing both Bakkerud and Timerzyanov in semi-final 2. 

Niclas Gronholm, Krisztian Szabo, and Anton Marklund also failed to advance to the finals. 

The question on everyone's lips after the thrilling final is: Will Mattias Ekström return for the full-season after winning in Sweden? 

"It was only planned for here [In Sweden]," Ekström said. "I will speak to Joel [Christoffersson] when I get back [to the garage]. I still have other commitments, which is clashing with other weekends. Finland, I admit would be nice, but then afterward it looks really difficult unless some of my bosses, friends or partners would like to contribute for me to continue, but for the time being that is not the plan."

Written By Junaid Samodien 

Monday, 17 August 2020

“If we are fast in Höljes, we can be fast anywhere” - Timmy Hansen.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
Timmy Hansen will begin the defense of his FIA World Rallycross Championship drivers' title five months later than initially planned as the 2020 season gets underway with a double-header on home soil at Höljes in Sweden this weekend. 

Coming off the back of an extraordinary 2019 season, where Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud ended the World RX season on equal points leading to a countback of race victories ultimately determining the champion. Timmy and Team Hansen RX will have their eyes on defending the drivers' and teams' titles this season against a line-up that's even tougher than last year. 

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and restrictions in place in a number of countries, Höljes (Sweden) inherited the role of season-opener this weekend, giving Team Hansen RX a unique opportunity to begin the season on home soil.

"It's exciting to start a new year. We begin the season in Sweden with our home race but it's going to be very different this year; without spectators, it's going to be more like a 'normal' race," Hansen said. "But the track layout is always fantastic and I'm looking forward to racing at Höljes."

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.

Having spent the off-season preparing their Peugeot 208 WRX supercars for the season ahead, the 28-year-old Swede believes that the 
Höljes double-header will be a good indication of where they stand as a team for the 2020 campaign. 

"This weekend should be a good indication right away of where we stand. If we are fast in Höljes, we can be fast anywhere," he said. "I want to continue what we did last year; it was a fantastic season, the best season I have ever had as a racing driver. But I still have more to give, more left in me that I want to give to the sport and I can still become a better rallycross driver. That's my goal for this year, and hopefully, that leads to another world title."

And with a more compact 2020 season, keeping out of trouble will be vital for all the drivers aiming to lift the championship trophy at the end of the season. Hansen is aware of this and aims to avoid another Abu Dhabi like incident, which saw his Peugeot 208 requiring a chassis rebuild after Andreas Bakkerud collided with him last year. 

"We have to be clever during these first races not to end up in any trouble because there is definitely no way you have time to repair any big damage between the two rounds on Saturday and Sunday," he said. "So ideally I want to avoid another Abu Dhabi from last year! To recharge between the two days will be challenging but I'm up for it."

The reigning champion has elected to race with number one on his rear window this season.

“To race with number one on the rear window is a nice reminder of what we did last year. It's a journey that I will never forget and I worked so hard for it. It had been a dream for many years and a goal, and now we have achieved it, so seeing that number one is a way to continue to enjoy it. It definitely feels good.”

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

“I aim to turn the pressure into a positive” - World RX Champion Timmy Hansen.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
Reigning World Rallycross Champion Timmy Hansen will have a target on his back this season as he returns to defend his crown in the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

The 2019 season was the closest fought season in the history of the world championship with both Timmy and Andreas Bakkerud ending the season on equal points, but with a count-back of wins, Hansen was declared the victor.

Slipstream SA spoke to Timmy Hansen ahead of the 2020 season opener. 

In all forms of sport, defending a title always comes with added pressure. So, we asked the reigning champion if he feels any added pressure as he heads into the season with an aim to defend the title(s), and how he aims to turn that added pressure to a positive?

“Well, the pressure is always there as a race driver and I think mainly about myself. I always want to perform and I am here because it's a huge challenge and that is what I love about it, so yes,” he said

“I do aim to turn the pressure into a positive but I wouldn't say it's more pressure. I would rather say I put less pressure on myself now because I have won the world championship already and I have achieved my goal in that way, and it feels like I don't have to do it again, but I definitely want to and I most of all I want to improve as a driver and drive faster than I've done before.”

The 2020 World RX season has been condensed into a ten round calendar, with 3 venues hosting double-headers this season, and no fly away events due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Whilst there was some downtime for many, it does not mean that racing drivers or any athletes for that matter used the downtime to relax. They often use it as downtime to improve themselves both physically and mentally for the challenges ahead, and this is no different for Timmy Hansen. With a condensed calendar in 2020, it will add enormous pressure on teams and drivers to perform from the get-go.

“This break has been a huge help to prepare myself on the physical and mental side,” Hansen said. “I feel really strong after all the training. I haven't been traveling so training has really been uninterrupted and I've done all the training that I planned to do. So, I feel really strong physically and mentally.”

“I've been able to set aside what happened last year and really find my motivation to perform and to continue to push myself as an athlete, so yeah. I feel great! I feel better than before any other season.”

Timmy will embark on the challenge of retaining his World RX crown in 2020 with heavy hitters returning to the championship, the likes of double World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson and Euro RX champion Robin Larsson in a former EKS RX Audi. 

2019 runner-up Andreas Bakkerud will switch to GC Kompetition machinery in a Renault Megane R.S RX Supercar alongside Liam Doran in Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel.

In the pursuit of perfection and improving, teams will refine their cars and update them to solve flaws of previous seasons and this is no different in World Rallycross. At some 2019 events, the Peugeot 208 WRX had the tendency to struggle on loose surfaces and excelled on high grip tracks. This year, the team has made changes to both the engine and to solve the grip issues, as Kevin Hansen revealed in an interview with Andrew Coley (World RX commentator).

“We're not a factory team anymore, and we do have a great car so I don't want to overextend what we're doing, but with that said of course as a team we want to continue to improve and there are several areas in which you can improve: teamwork, me as a driver, set up, performance of the race car, and the engineers have worked hard and have had in many ideas,” Timmy said.

“Together as a team, we had many ideas at the end of last year and we were working on them and hopefully, we have fine-tuned the car even better for 2020.”

Timmy Hansen leading his brother and Timo Scheider in Cape Town.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
The 2019 World Rallycross Championship was a tense affair and went right down to the wire between Andreas Bakkerud and Timmy both vying for top honors. The season finale was won by Niclas Gronholm after Bakkerud and Hansen collided in the tight gravel hairpin in Cape Town. Hansen spun and lost track position crossing the finish line in fourth behind the event winner. That meant the pair were equal on points and a countback would seal the title for Hansen having won four events in 2019.

Rivalries make sports very interesting for fans, and with old champions returning there is no doubt we’ll see new rivalries form in 2020. So, who does Timmy think will be his biggest rival this season?

“I mean Kristoffersson, of course, he is a two-time world champion and he will be on the grid and in the same machine that he used so on you know, looking at it that way I'm looking forward to race against him and again to really measure myself against him, after all the work we have done and how far we've come as a team,” he said. “But Andreas, you know, we ended on equal points last year, and I know he hasn't been lazy (during off-season) and, Gronholm as well, he was super strong last year and I know they've been working very hard to do you know there are four drivers or three drivers apart from me and Kevin and then.”

“You know, you have to be very humble before these the start of a season. I think is very important to know that your competitors will be strong but mainly focus on your own performance.”

The 28-year-old Swede has also added two eSport titles to his belt during the off-season. He claimed the World RX eSports Series and Race of Champions Virtual titles. We asked him if simulator racing was a good tool to sharpen his racing skills during the off-season.

“I don't know, time has to tell if I improved by doing that or not, you know, motorsport practice and training it's very hard to measure and like when I'm out running or in the gym do I become faster by doing that, you know for like one session doesn't make a difference, but all the sessions combined.”

“I'm sure that it makes a difference and I think it's the same with eSports. I've been racing and I have been keeping sharp so I wouldn't say there's anything particular I've learnt apart from being in that racing zone and mentally it was a big challenge which I could carry some lessons from so yeah, it was it was a good way to spend the break. And fun of course.”

Whilst many countries are still battling the Coronavirus pandemic, and some are still under partial lockdowns. The reigning champion shared a few words with motorsport fans.

“We are all in this together and even if I am a racing driver or you know, a CEO of a large company or an employee of a large company or anybody else in the whole world have an equal part in fighting this, you know, it's all about social distancing and we can do it and I can only encourage people to continue to stay, you know, stay socially distant,” he said.

“I've been staying at home. I've been going to work and really limiting what I'm doing so yeah, I'm not better than anyone. I don't have a bigger responsibility, but we're all equally responsible and yeah, this is something that the world is really doing together never before have I seen the entire world like this acting in the same way for the same goal to save our elderly, you know family mainly as well as everyone else in risk.”

“And motorsport is starting again soon, so you'll be in entertained if you're at home.”

The 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship season is now just a week away with a double-header at Höljes in Sweden.

Written By: Junaid Samodien