Timmy and Kevin Hansen delivered another commanding one-two finish at the Bretagne World RX of Lohéac, as the ‘Lion’ roared on home soil, and Johan Kristoffersson was once again out of luck.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
After a strong start to the season with one-two finishes in Spain and Sweden – with Kevin and Timmy winning one event each – the team kept its unprecedented winning streak going in France with another formation finish at the third round of the World RX season.
Timmy Hansen entered the weekend holding a six-point advantage at the summit of the championship standings – produced a perfect start and a scintillating turn-of-speed in Q4 to top the timesheets and launch himself onto the front row of the starting grid for the first semi-final alongside rival Kristoffersson.
Two fastest times out of four secured Kristoffersson the Top Qualifier honors, but driveshaft failure while leading the semi-final spelled disaster for the three-time world champion, allowing Hansen and Timo Scheider to sneak past on the final lap.
The KYB EKS JC driver narrowly fended off Kevin Abbring for third place but was then unable to take up his spot in the final as his gearbox was also found to be damaged. Despite a herculean effort by his team to replace it, he, unfortunately, did not make it to the grid within the specified time limit (missed by one minute).
That set up a Hansen front-row lockout after Kevin beat Niclas Grönholm at the start of the second semi-final to assume a lead.
From there the brothers worked together to maximize the team’s result, running side-by-side through the first two turns at the start of the final before Kevin pulled in behind at the turn three hairpin. The brothers then sped away from their pursuers to extend their winning run, with Kevin shadowing Timmy right the way to the chequered flag for a third consecutive one-two.
"What an amazing season we are having! I think this is a time in my career and our lives that we will always remember, with one-two finishes for the team in each of the first three events – it’s just magic," Timmy Hansen said.
"I must say I was lucky in many ways to get the win – it was a shame that Johan [Kristoffersson] had his technical issue – but that’s the way it goes sometimes and today it went my way. Rallycross is about much more than just being quick, and there have been many races in my career where I have had the speed but not come away with the result."
The second win of the season means, Timmy has extended his championship lead over younger brother Kevin to 10 points, who in turn has a 17-point advantage over nearest challenger Krisztián Szabó in third.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
The 2019 World Champion credits the Hansen World RX Team for keeping their winning streak alive.
"Even though I am the guy in the driver’s seat, I have to give credit for this victory to my team. The effort, the energy, the knowledge from our mechanics and engineers made all the difference today. The car wasn’t there in the first few qualifying sessions, not only in terms of raw pace but also the feeling it was giving me. A new set of Öhlins dampers and set-up changes before Q4 made the 208 come alive and made a huge difference," Hansen said.
"At this stage of the season we need to get as many points on the board as possible for the team – the Hyundais found more pace this weekend and Johan was as fast as ever, so when opportunities appear for us to take maximum scores, we have to take them. It's a shame Johan had an issue but this is the game."
Round one winner, Kevin Hansen acknowledges that a 1-2 finish is another great result for the team, but he wasn't able to show his pace throughout qualifying despite having a few chances of winning.
"This is another great result and it shows what my real pace was throughout the weekend. I feel I was a bit unlucky in not being able to show my pace throughout qualifying as I felt fast and the car was great – but we kept working hard and we got the front by the end," Kevin said
"I’d like to go out and win the final but we had an equal chance to be the leader – pole position goes to the winner of the faster semi-final, and this time around that was Timmy. If it had been the other way around then he would be supporting me. It’s our job to get the team the best result possible and we can only achieve that by working together. And in fairness, I had to be on my maximum pace to keep up with Timmy in the final! Maybe there was a chance or two for me to dive down the inside but ensuring the one-two result is more important.
Now, we need to continue working hard to extract more pace, and our car should suit Riga well, so I’m really excited to go there next and try to win."
Behind the Hansen pairing, Q1 pace-setter Grönholm overcame his slow semi-final start to achieve his first podium of the season and a strong points haul following a difficult season-to-date – with Abbring going well again for fourth, despite having to contend with a slipping clutch that hampered his hopes of a rostrum result on UNKORRUPTED’s home turf.
"I’m a bit disappointed, because we had the opportunity to win today. I felt we were up there with the top guys at last, after a difficult first couple of rounds where our pace has been quite up-and-down," Grönholm said.
"I really thought we could go all the way, but unfortunately the stall at the start of the semi-final ruined the weekend because you really need a good grid position in the final if you want to win. I did what I could and tried to fight back, and I guess third place from the last row is ok, but I’m here to win. We have the pace in the car – we just need a little bit of luck, and then the results will come."
His GRX-SET team-mate Krisztián Szabó maintained his record of progressing through to the final at every event so far in 2021 securing a fifth-place finish, with Scheider completing the top six.
2021 FIA World RX Championship standings after round 3 (drivers):
Timmy Hansen (Hansen World RX Team) 85 pts
Kevin Hansen (Hansen World RX Team) 75 points
Krizstian Szabo (GRX-SET) 58 pts
Johan Kristoffersson (KYB EKS JC) 57 pts
Kevin Abbring (UNKORRUPTED) 55 pts
Niclas Gronholm (GRX-SET) 51 pts
Enzo Ide (KYB EKS JC) 37 pts
Timo Scheider (ALL-INLK Munnich Motorsport) 31 pts
Juha Rytkonen 25 pts
Rene Munnich (ALL-INLK Munnich Motorsport) 16 pts
[TOP 10 only]