|PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool|
Niclas Gronholm crossed the line first in the final of the opening round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship but received a three-second time penalty after an incident with Kevin Hansen on the penultimate lap. Hansen claims his maiden World RX win.
The young Swede has dedicated his maiden World Rallycross win to his team, family, and brother following a late team entry to World RX after Peugeot's withdrawal from the sport in 2018: "This win is for the amazing team! This win is for my family! This win is for the Hansen brothers, Timmy and me!"
“It feels completely crazy,” said Hansen. “I took the start in the final and led about five laps and then after turn 10, Niclas gave me a tap and I nearly spun and lost the lead."
“A win in the stewards’ room is not the perfect way. It has been a great job by all the guys in the team to get the cars here and prepared. But this one is for Timmy as he should have been on the podium.”
Niclas recovered well from a poor start in the semifinals but claimed victory to progress to the finals. The Finn would start on the front row alongside top qualifier Kevin Hansen in the finals.
Gronholm had a slightly stronger start compared to Hansen who held a lead into turn one, and after the first lap, they began to inch away from Scheider, Doran, Szabo, and Baumanis.
The Hyundai driver had very strong pace through the corners. And on the fourth lap, Gronholm tagged the back of Kevin Hansen causing the Swede to run wide, allowing Gronholm through to take the lead of the race.
“It was not an intentional hit but sometimes the stewards look at things differently to us so I have to accept it, move on and fight back in Barcelona,” said Gronholm.
Monster Energy RX Cartel's Liam Doran claimed third place and secured his first World RX podium finish.
“This result is from pure determination and nothing else," said Doran. "I started off poor to be completely honest, struggling with the setup of the car a bit."
“I just got my head down. I got into the semis by the skin of my teeth but you never give up until you get to the end.”
While Team STARD's Janis Baumanis claimed fourth place, ahead of Krisztian Szabo, and German Timo Scheider finished in sixth place with an issue.
Andreas Bakkerud failed to qualify for the final after causing a collision with Timmy Hansen in Q3, and ultimately being disqualified from the session. While Timmy Hansen, on the other hand, had chassis damage as a result of the heft impact.