Friday 17 May 2019

Tyre strategy error leads to Team Hansen MJP fight back in Belgium.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool 
Team Hansen MJP faced a challenging first visit to Spa-Francorchamps having to fight back after tyre strategy error. 

A repeat of Barcelona, where Timmy Hansen topped every session on the way to a Team Hansen MJP one-two finish in the Final was always unlikely to happen in Belgium. 

The Belgian weather did not help the Swedish team, and ultimately they opted to use the wet tyre compound on both cars on Saturday, whereas their rivals opted for the risky slick tyres in the tricky wet conditions.

Timmy won his Q1 heat but ultimately was only sixth fastest, while Kevin bogged down off the line and finished in 10th place. It was then 8th and 10th overall for Kevin and Timmy respectively after Q2. 

"We made some wrong decisions with tyre choice on Saturday, which meant that we had a lot of catching up to do on Sunday, and we also had a couple of bits of bad luck," said Kenneth Hansen, Team Principal. 

"But if you think that we were 10th and 11th on Saturday night, to end up where we did is quite good."

A fightback was on the cards on a dry final day of racing at Spa-Francorchamps. Kevin and Timmy would line up in the same Q3 heat, with Kevin showing good speed after a slow launch to go second fastest overall. Meanwhile, Timmy had spent the early part of Q3 in an intense battle with Timerzyanov, falling to fifth place after taking his Joker and going 10th overall.

“The highlight of my weekend was definitely Q3, which was our strongest session," said Kevin Hansen. "We had two really fast laps at the end, which I’m going to take away as a fantastic experience."

Timmy Hansen bounced back with a superb Q4 performance helping him to slot into fourth overall in the combined qualifying standings, while Kevin moved up the qualifying standings to seventh earning him a slot in the first Semi-Final.

"Our potential was really good all weekend – as we saw in Q4, which was the only opportunity I had to drive in clear air – but we didn’t completely maximise on it," said Timmy Hansen. "But that can happen in rallycross sometimes; after the high of Spain, where we had a perfect weekend, it’s back to the real world now!"

Kevin started fourth in Semi-Final 1 and was battling Liam Doran, who took an early joker lap. Kevin's strategy was the opposite, pulling off on the very last lap and coming out of the joker side-by-side with the Doran. With the two on different lines, they collided in mid-air, Doran beating Kevin to third place by the narrowest of margins and pitching Kevin into the wall.

Timmy, on the other hand, would start Semi-Final 2 from second on the grid, but at the start he was pushed into the wall at turn one by Janis Baumanis, dropping him to fifth and forcing him to mount a comeback. 

The Swede used the clean air to aid his charge as he passed Anton Marklund and Cyril Raymond when they took their jokers on consecutive laps, followed later by Baumanis, he then produced the fastest lap of the race to ensure he came out ahead of Marklund and Raymond to progress to the final. 

Starting on the back row of the grid put Timmy at a disadvantage, but after turn one melee involving Bakkerud and Wiman, Hansen was able to pass Doran after he crashed at the Raidillon hairpin and then taking Baumanis for fourth down the inside of the long final left-hander on the penultimate lap. 

"On a weekend that wasn’t especially strong for us, we still took away some good points and that’s the most positive thing about this weekend," said Kenneth Hansen.  

"And of course Kevin and Timmy are first and second in the drivers’ championship now, which is great."

Despite leaving Belgium in first and second in the drivers' championship, Kevin believes that Team Hansen MJP can learn from there errors in Belgium. "We just need to learn from this now and try to make sure that we don’t create more situations where we are running in the pack and a bit vulnerable," he said. "Like they say, you make your own luck!”

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

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