|PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool/Joerg Mitter
Despite all these obstacles and challenges, the 2019 season was arguably the best season to date with a healthy entry list at every round.
The season will also live long in the memories of Niclas Gronholm, Andreas Bakkerud, and Timmy Hansen, who had to overcome highs and lows to achieve a childhood dream.
|Moments before Andreas Bakkerud hit Hansen.
PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media
His Peugeot 208 WRX suffered extensive chassis damage, but after 9 days of hard work, the car was rebuilt, and back on the grid in Barcelona where he and his younger brother Kevin claimed a 1-2 finish becoming the second-ever siblings to finish first, and second in an FIA World Championship event.
The 31-year-old Swede claimed three more wins that season, in Great Britain, France, and Latvia on his way to a dramatic season finale in Cape Town. With a championship on the line, preparation is always key, “I think the key is to not treat [the championship decider] any differently. To treat it as [a normal weekend], because like, you're just gonna get in the car again and drive again. So, the secret is in keeping it simple,” Timmy Hansen told Slipstream SA.
“And I tried hard to do that, but also the nerves are there, you know what's on the line. It is that was kind of the balance to stay focused, and not to make any mistakes. But I think both me and Andreas [Bakkerud] did well. And, he delivered very, very well. And, and so did I.”
The weekend had been building up towards a winners-takes-all battle between Timmy Hansen and championship rival, Andreas Bakkerud, whilst Kevin had an outside opportunity, had the two ahead encountered bad luck.
With a solitary point separating the two with one race remaining, the Hansen Motorsport driver knew that taking maximum points at the final race of the weekend would be enough to hand him his first FIA World RX title, and admits that his younger brother Kevin played an instrumental role in clinching the title.
“I wouldn't have been able to win that year without Kevin and I, working together,” he said. ‘’Before the semi-final, he was also in the title fight. He [Kevin] was only eight points behind coming into this final race. And, he had also done a fantastic season, but after the heats, it kind of looked like, it was going to be me and Andreas. And then he said: ‘Okay, I've got your back now.’ So, I chose to run the semifinal with used tires, because Kevin was in second place and he would cover up the inside and stay behind, you know, have my back. So I was able to run that semifinal with used tires to have four new tires on the car for the final. It would've been impossible without Kevin."
After a strong performance in the semi-final stages, the Hansen brothers secured the World RX Team Championship for Team Hansen MJP.
|The launch of a lifetime for Andreas Bakkerud at the 2019 World RX of SA.
PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien/Slipstream SA.
Following the final, the FIA launched a rather lengthy investigation into the collision at turn seven, and later deemed that ‘no further action’ would be taken.
Ayrton Senna da Silva, once famously, said: “If you no longer go for a gap that exists, you're no longer a racing driver.”
Returning to Cape Town, after four years, Timmy Hansen explained how things really went down in the tense final: “I put a lot of pressure on him early in the lap. And, then he he overshot that fast right-hander before the hairpin. He went a bit too wide, caught in the dirt. He was wide, there's a gap, and you go into the gap. The reason we spun was because he touched the wall and went into me and spun me around. That was really unfortunate, but I think, you know, I had the move don. I was passed, but then, then we collided.”
Timmy fulfilled a life-long ambition and dream to be an FIA World Champion.
“It’s a title that not many people have reached, and the ones that have reached it are the very greatest to have been in motorsport,” he told Slipstream SA prior to the 2019 final.
Relive the 2019 World RX of SA with Andrew Coley.