Thursday, 5 December 2019

The 2019 World RX season 'has been the best year in my career developing as a driver' - Kevin Hansen.

PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien/Slipstream SA
‘Champions are made not born’ - Michael Jordan.

Kevin Hansen is the definition of a champion having won almost every series entered to date. 

Kevin, the younger brother of Timmy Hansen (the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Champion) and son of 14-time European Rallycross Champion Kenneth Hansen, started his career in karting at the age of seven before becoming World Champion in ROK Junior series in 2010. 

The 21-year-old Swede went on to win the JRX Series in 2012, as well as the Junior Championships in Britain and Sweden before stepping up to RX Lites Cup in 2014 where he finished runner-up.  

In 2015, Hansen won the RX Lites Cup before making the step up to the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the season finale in Argentina. There, he progressed to the final in his first outing in the championship. For 2016, the Swede moved to the FIA European Rallycross Championship and dominated the championship-winning four out of the five events to become the European RX Champion. 

He took the next step up the ladder when he moved up to the FIA World Rallycross Championship as the third entry for Team Peugeot Hansen in 2017. Hansen reached the final in Germany and secured eighth place in the overall standings. He continued to drive a Peugeot 208 in 2018 as an individual entry under the Team Peugeot Total banner, putting in some good performances and finished eighth in the championship.

The 2019 season was an unknown for the Hansen family after Peugeot’s withdrawal from the championship. However, in early 2019 it was announced that the Hansen brothers will join the Titans RX European series run by MJP Racing. In addition to the Titans RX series, Kenneth Hansen and Max J. Pucher joined forces to form Team Hansen MJP and two Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars were acquired from Peugeot for the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship.  

While the Hansen family just about beat the clock to enter the 2019 World RX championship, the season got off to a rocky start after Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud collided in Q3 in Abu Dhabi. While Kevin’s younger brother Timmy sat on the sidelines with a damaged chassis, he progressed to the final and went on to claim victory at the season opener in Abu Dhabi. 

With the pressure of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. The Hansen brothers competed in the full Titans RX European Series, where Kevin clinched the title and older brother Timmy Hansen finished in third overall. 

In addition, to racing in World RX and Titans RX. The Hansen family returned to the Nitro World Games where Timmy Hansen claimed the inaugural Nitro Rallycross title in 2018. However, in 2019 Kevin Hansen raised the event winners trophy beating Patrick Sandell across the line, while Timmy Hansen finished in third. 

What more could the Hansen’s possibly do in 2019? Well, add the “Yellow Squad” to the list of achievements. The Yellow Squad was created as a development programme by the Hansen brothers. 

In November, this year the Hansen’s announced that the Yellow Squad will join the RX2 International Series in 2020, after joining forces with Team Färén.

Kevin Hansen leading his brother and Andreas Bakkerud.
PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien/Slipstream SA
The Titans RX and Nitro RX Champion Kevin Hansen took some time out of his very busy schedule to chat with us at the Killarney International Raceway. 

Junaid Samodien: With no manufacturer teams in 2019. Reflecting on the season to date, how would you assess the 2019 season? 

Kevin Hansen: It’s been a very good year, and I think it has been the best year in my career developing as a driver and learning a bit more about myself. I think the two years with Peugeot was good and I learnt a lot, but this year I could really bring that knowledge forward and use it. So, overall it's been a good year.

JS: Having competed in multiple series this year (Titans, Nitro RX and managing the Yellow Squad) how do you find the mental strength to handle all these tasks?

KH: Yeah, we have a lot to do, but I think once you are in the flow of things it is easy to get going. I also have the family to do everything together with, so I never feel lonely and I get support when it becomes too much. We try to handle everything together, which I think is the key to our success – we have a lot of things to do but we handle it well.  

JS: Earlier this season in Barcelona, yourself and Timmy become to second ever siblings to finish first and second in an FIA World Championship event. What does it mean to you to be compared to the Schumacher family/brothers?

KH: It’s really cool! I never really seen that before that you can compare yourself to the Schumacher brothers. So, it’s just amazing. We try to do our thing, and we try to do it the best way possible, and to be compared to them is an honor. 

JS: What is it like to compete against your brother in World RX?

KH: It’s the first time that we have had the same car, and it’s the first time that it’s just the two of us in the team. So, we decided beforehand that we will never be competing against each other. We are at our strongest when we are together. So, it’s very nice and very comfortable. He is a safe teammate to have, we always perform very good together. 

JS: Having attended the launch of Projekt E in Riga. What are your thoughts on the concept? Do you think that Projekt E can be a success in drawing fans to electric rallycross or a good promotional tool for the eventual switch to electric rallycross?

KH: I think it’s cool that we are finally going electric, and we have some movement towards that. But I think for our team, we are not interested in Projekt E, as we are more focused on the World Championship where we have the big title as a World Champion and so-on. It’s a big investment and they are trying to make it work, but as I said it’s not something that our team will do, but we look forward to the electric transformation in World Rallycross. 

JS: Do you think fans will embrace Projekt E and Electric Rallycross?

KH: I think the sport is perfect for electric, and it will have a lot of sound. You can compare the sound of an electric car to the sound of a drill you use at home.  I have driven the Extreme E car and there was a lot of sound from the outside. So, that was very nice and I think rallycross would have even more sound, and plus it would be faster which would make it even better. I can’t wait to drive an electric car because they are just better cars. I think in a World Championship, we should have the best possible car and if it is electric then that is really cool. 

JS: Timmy and yourself entered Extreme E for the inaugural season in 2020. What were the reasons for entering this new form of motorsport?

KH: It’s a really interesting series that they tried to create. It’s almost like a new discipline in motorsport where we go off-road completely and race on a short stage in places in the world where it is affected by climate change, and that is something that I want to be part of to try to make my little contribution to the environment. It’s a really interesting championship with big goals and targets, so I wanted to sign up for the participation but unfortunately, nothing is signed for the series. 

JS: You are the inaugural Titans RX champion. Would you return to Titans RX in the future to defend your title?

KH: I would hope so! Titans RX has been really nice. It’s one of the series that I have had the most fun in. So, I think that I really want to go back there if I get the opportunity I will go. 

JS: What would you still like to achieve in your motorsport career?

KH: I want to run a team because I really love that side of it. It was a big part of me growing up – not only driving cars, but to run a team, and if that is in a World Championship or the junior category it would be really nice. I want to have a successful team and to win on that side as well because the feeling of winning that side is completely different. Then you really start becoming a professional driver that can lead on what I do full-time. I think that would be my main target – I am still very young, and I think for the next 10 years, I will try to remain in motorsport and then we see what happens. 

JS: What do you think of Killarney International Raceway, or of Cape Town and it’s people?

KH: I love Cape Town! I really love this city and I really enjoy it here. The track is always very nice – it has a good rhythmic feeling. It’s technical and has a big character, which makes it a lot of fun to drive.

JS: Will we see the Hansen family on the grid in 2020?

KH: Yes, somewhere at least! We hope that we can be back in the World Championship. We were really on the limit coming to the series this year and we just made it all the way through the year. So, we will hope to have a little bit more financial support for next year. We have worked hard for it. 

JS: You have raced on a number of World RX circuits in a number of countries? I have a challenge for you. Can you DRAW your ideal World RX circuit, or what would it look like?

KH: I have no idea (laughs). I already have the perfect rallycross track – it’s Nitro World Games. You can’t beat that! 

KH: When I was small I drew a lot of tracks on paper and made curves out of cardboard paper, and I played with my toy cars. So, I recognize this type of drawing.

A very special 'Thank You' to Kevin Hansen for taking some time out of his very busy schedule to chat with us. Also, a big thank you to Susann Hansen, Team Hansen MJP team manager for arranging the interview. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien
Co-Editor - Franco Theron
Circuit drawn by - Kevin Hansen

Pictures By - Junaid Samodien

No comments:

Post a Comment