Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has proven to be a happy hunting ground for the Hansen World RX Team in years past, with Kevin Hansen leading home team-mate Timmy Hansen in a 1-2 finish in the 2021 FIA World Rallycross Championship season-opener.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
Having finished second and third behind Johan Kristoffersson on Friday (day one) in the first and second qualifiers, news soon came that Johan was disqualified from Q1 due to a disconnected FIA data logger, which meant the Hansen brothers were promoted to 1-2 overnight.
Whilst Kristoffersson launched a fightback on day 2 in the Catalunya heat, Timmy Hansen was right behind the defending World Champion in the third and fourth qualifiers, with the older Hansen brother coming out as the top qualifier with younger brother Kevin in second in the intermediate rankings sealing a front row start in their respective semi-finals.
14-time European Rallycross Champion and team principal, Kenneth Hansen admits that his team did not quite have the ultimate place over the weekend, but they focussed on tyre saving hoping to gain maximum performance.
Timmy Hansen explaining the movement of his car, whilst Kenneth Hansen listens behind.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
"We didn't quite have the ultimate pace during the whole weekend – Kristoffersson was extremely quick in the Saturday qualifying sessions," Kenneth Hansen said. "But we had good tyres for the semi-finals and very good tyres for the finals – we had decided to put our eggs in a single basket strategy-wise early on, taking a gamble aimed squarely at winning the later races."
"We had to take additional risks to win those races too, especially with the joker lap. We did a really good job in that area, it couldn't have gone better."
Pulling out all the stops in the final, with a front-row lockout for Hansen brothers. With a clear strategy in mind, they covered off the immediate challenge behind, but the race for victory was not over from there.
Kristoffersson kept them very honest, as he opted for clean air and took his joker on lap two posting the fastest time of the weekend - 43.536s. The fight was on! Fending off the chasing Kristoffersson, Timmy took the joker a lap later and cleared the three-time World Champion, but unfortunately got held up by Krisztian Szabo handing Kevin Hansen a few tenths to play with, and ultimately coming out alongside his older brother and sweeping into the lead where he would remain to claim his first-ever win on the road.
"The situation we faced in the opening laps of the final was Kevin potentially dropping to third, but we were able to read the race and ensure we took a 1-2 and maximum points for the championship," Hansen explains.
Kenneth Hansen credits his technical team, and engine partner ORECA for the work they have done not only in Barcelona but in preparation for the 2021 campaign.
"Our technical team has done a fantastic job all weekend, and we especially need to thank ORECA for their hard work on engine upgrades," he said. "Our starts were consistently strong this week, which is a great reward for all the work that's been put in since last year's season finale."