|Photo Credit: Peugeot Sport|
Sébastien Loeb got off to a flying start in Portugal by winning Q1 and finishing 2nd in Q2, making him the points leader overnight on Saturday. “I had a really good feeling with the 208 WRX from the beginning," said Loeb. "In the dry, the car was easy to handle, and I felt very confident: I could concentrate on the lap time rather than what I was doing with the car itself."
Loeb felt a bit less confident in the wet and slippery conditions of Q3 and Q4 on Sunday morning, he comfortably went through to the semi-final. The Frenchman finished 2nd in the semi, which earned him a place in the final that was held just as the snow started to fall hard. "It was a good fight all weekend and I really enjoyed it; it’s not normal to see snow! The battle is so close between everyone, but we are right up there too," says Loeb. "You have to do everything perfectly if you want to have a good weekend in rallycross. It's not always easy but very satisfying when it happens.” Loeb finished 2nd overall in the final: the same result that he achieved in Barcelona, to boost his position in the championship rankings.
Timmy Hansen was the only driver to beat Loeb in a race on Saturday, winning Q2 in front of his illustrious team mate to lie 2nd overnight in the overall points rankings. He too easily qualified for the semi-finals, and the news got even better for the Swede on Sunday afternoon when he won his semi-final, again in front of Loeb. "In the final, I was going well but Kristoffersson was faster, and I made a mistake when I was trying to keep up. The weather changed for the final and we didn’t have time to adapt the car to the slippery conditions: we still had the set up from the dry run before," said Hansen. "So, I think that was part of it, but it was also my mistake. I went too fast into the corner, hit the rail and spun round. That’s racing sometimes, mistakes can happen."
Kevin Hansen also had a great start in Portugal and seemingly got better and better as conditions became more challenging: finishing 5th and 9th in the wet Q3 and Q4 sessions on Sunday morning. These strong results promoted him to the semi-final but disaster struck when he was caught out by a rival who braked early and went into the back of him. "I had a really good start again in the semi-final and I was just behind Ekstrom: I was sure he was going to go for the joker," said Kevin Hansen. "Then he braked, and I didn’t have time to stop: I hit him in the rear and broke the intercooler." To save the engine from terminal damage, he chose to switch it off, and his promising weekend was sadly over.
"We've had two events now and I’ve been through to the semi-final on each occasion. I feel very good with the car and I trust it: especially when you have to go sideways like you do here," Kevin Hansen added. "Without the incident in the semi, I think we could have been in the final, so that’s great."
After reliability issues in round 1 at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, the Peugeot Total drivers have more confidence in the 208 RX supercar after showing good pace.
Written By: Junaid Samodien