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.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull.
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