Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Team Hansen hails 'big step' after win and double podium in Catalunya.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull/Hansen Motorsport
Reigning team champions Team Hansen has taken a big step in Barcelona having claimed their first win and first double podium of the season. 

The 2020 season has ebbed and flowed for the Swedish team, and in the early stages of the season they struggled to find traction on low grip circuits, but despite that their drivers claimed three podium finishes before heading to the World RX of Barcelona (double-header). 

With no wins to there record after a strong championship winning 2019 season, returning to winning ways was there ultimate objective, and following extensive testing prior to the final double-header of the season. The Team Hansen brought some valuable knowledge and updates with them, which provided to work on the 1.133 km track

The Hansen brothers were in the mix all weekend, and on Saturday afternoon reigning champion Timmy Hansen "beat the unbeatable" to register his first win of the season ahead of Johan Kristoffersson and Kevin Hansen. The 'brodium' was on!

Whilst some cynics might have thought it would be a one-off for the Hansen's on Saturday. They were wrong, the Hansen's were back and just as strong on Sunday for round 8 of the World RX championship, but this time with Kevin Hansen ahead of Timmy in the intermediate rankings in third and fourth respectively. 

Sunday saw Timmy claim his second piece of silverware, having finished second in round eight of the World RX season finishing behind Johan Kristoffersson this time around after beating him a day before. 

"It's been a fantastic weekend with a massive step-up in performance for both me and Kevin. We are fighting for wins now which feels great. Yesterday [Saturday] we got it, today [Sunday] not quite, but it's still been a great weekend and I'm happy that the work that we've done in the lead-up to this weekend has paid off," Timmy Hansen said.

"We had great pace today but the race didn't quite go in our favour. I wasn't lucky enough to have any pole position starts today which wasn't ideal so qualified fourth, though I was hoping to beat Bakkerud in the semi-final, even with older tyres, to get myself that all-important front row grid slot."

"The final was carnage. I came up behind Johan and it was the same battle again from Saturday but this time around I couldn't quite manage it," he adds. "The only way to win was to put in a perfect run and I didn't quite put together a string of perfect laps in the final; I wasn't quite able to find that perfect rhythm from the day before."

After a third-place finish a day before, Kevin continued his strong form edging older brother in the intermediate rankings having claimed two second-place finish in Q2 and 3. Whilst his pace was quite promising all weekend, his day would end in the semi-finals. 

The semi-finals saw a very crowded first corner which meant Kevin was shuffled back to fifth place at the start, though he quickly recovered to fourth at turn three, sneaking past Timo Scheider on the inside of the long right-hander.

An early joker to find clear air didn't quite pan out as he caught Tamás Kárai a lap later and, while a brilliant overtake exiting turn six put him into fourth place, too much time was lost to Robin Larsson who held the last spot for the final.

"Today was a very promising day. The car performance was amazing in all three qualifying sessions and I was feeling really comfortable with the adjustments the team had made overnight. My speed was much better today so I was very happy with everything in that respect," Kevin Hansen said.

"We had a bit of a bad start in the semi-final but I felt we were in a good position by jokering first. That's a good place to be, first into the joker, so it was looking promising. Unfortunately, Karai had gone for the complete opposite strategy to us so getting past him lost us the time we needed to make the final."

"Overall this was a very strong weekend, a great return to form, and I feel like I'm getting better every weekend," he adds. "For the first time this year, I was within sight of a victory, and I don't plan to let it out of my sight again for the rest of the year. I'm even more excited to be heading to Spa now with the momentum we've built here, with the team back to winning ways."

With a win and two podium finishes in two days, Team Hansen's quest to retain the teams' championship is back on track. Heading to Barcelona with a 43-point deficit to KYB Team JC, Timmy and Kevin's efforts has narrowed that gap to only 16 points, with two rounds in Belgium and Germany still to go.

Timmy has also leap-frogged Niclas Grönholm to third in the drivers' championship having been six points behind heading into Barcelona. The Swede now has a 16 point advantage over Niclas with two rounds to go, meanwhile Kevin has inched closer to Grönholm and is just 12 points behind sitting fifth in the championship standings. 

"What was most impressive on Sunday was Kevin's level of performance increasing further," Kenneth Hansen, team boss said. "In past years he was slightly behind Timmy's pace but now he's at exactly the same level; sometimes even quicker. So we have two really quick drivers and cars. Today he found the level he's normally capable of delivering."

"Our win yesterday seems to have made Johan even hungrier to make sure he didn't get beaten to victory! He was clearly very determined to make sure Timmy didn't win in the final again today. But having one race like yesterday's final, where Timmy put in an absolutely perfect drive, is still a fantastic performance. My voice is almost gone from pushing Timmy so much on the radio!"

After a challenging start to the season, Kenneth Hansen says his team is back in the game to defend their teams' title, and they will continue to push with an aim to leap-frog KYB Team JC in the standings.

"We're back in the game for the teams' world championship now and we'll be doing everything we can to catch the Audis in the title race," Kenneth warns. "I believe with the direction we're going in and what we've learned this weekend will also help us in Spa. Now we've made a big step for this weekend, finding the next bit of pace will be even harder, as the rate of return on testing gets smaller and we're also quite late into the season now. Plus we need good weather! But we'll do some more testing and see what we find. We never stop pushing!"

Written By - Junaid Samodien

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