Abu Dhabi, 06 April 2019 – Team Hansen MJP experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in Abu Dhabi during an emotional opening round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Kevin Hansen scored his first ever WRX victory in spectacular style, with victory in qualifying and his semi-final in addition to his final win, while Timmy Hansen’s weekend was cruelly curtailed early on by an enormous shunt which destroyed his car’s rollcage.
Both Timmy and Kevin had started the World RX of Abu Dhabi in brilliant fashion, finishing 1-2 in Q1. Timmy took the top spot once again in Q2 but his weekend ended shortly afterwards, being on the receiving end of a heavy shunt with Andreas Bakkerud. Crossing the start/finish line to begin the final lap, Timmy had just rejoined the track from taking his joker lap and was hit side-on by Bakkerud, who was disqualified for his part in the collision. A heroic effort from Timmy meant he nursed the car to seventh place in Q3 but rollcage damage to his Peugeot 208 WRX was too extensive to compete in Q4 or the semi-finals.
The whole team was understandably shaken by Timmy’s huge accident but regrouped around Kevin, who showed incredible resilience to press on and win both Q3 and Q4. With Timmy looking on from the spotters’ position in the Abu Dhabi grandstands, Kevin then scored a semi-final victory put him on pole for the final.
Kevin led most of the final, until being spun out at the hairpin by Niclas Grönholm in the latter half of the fourth lap. Grönholm was then given a three second penalty post-race for pushing and overtaking, restoring the lead which Kevin had held for much of the final to seal his first ever WRX win, and provide Team Hansen MJP a happy ending for a rollercoaster first weekend as a privateer team.
Qualifying 1 – 1st
Qualifying 2 – 1st
Qualifying 3 – 7th
Qualifying 1 – 2nd
Qualifying 2 – 6th
Qualifying 3 – 1st
Qualifying 4 – 1st
Semi-Final – 1st
Final – 1st
Having come into the opening round with so many question marks as to the relative pace, Team Hansen now knows that it can run in the front, having won all the sessions it participated in: a promising start to the season!
The brand-new Abu Dhabi track proved to be an excellent rallycross venue, with plenty of exhilarating drama captivating the fans.
The competitive order around Team Hansen has shifted somewhat: GRX Taneco was Hansen’s closest rival in Abu Dhabi, scoring one point more for the teams’ championship in part due to Timmy’s absence from Q4 and the subsequent finals.
The number of points Kevin Hansen scored at Abu Dhabi by winning the Final, his Semi Final and also being Top Qualifier, the maximum possible from a single FIA World RX round.
“I’d describe today as an extremely abrupt end to what had been a perfect weekend. I was fastest in Q1, fastest in Q2 and for what it’s worth I think I would have been fastest in Q3. But then everyone saw what happened: Bakkerud thought it was the last lap, so he went flat out after the joker and basically drove into my driver’s door. It was a massive impact and the roll cage was pushed in towards my left leg, but I am OK, just a bit of bruising. It makes you realise how tough these cars are. Then, once I was out, Kevin saved my day. I was supporting him from the spotters’ tower: cheering him on and helping as much as I could. I’m incredibly proud of him, so a day of very mixed emotions. Mostly, I’m just really happy for him.”
“I think this was the craziest weekend of my career…so many emotions! Straight away we could see that we had good pace and that we were in the fight; then we had Timmy’s crash, which was a big low, then I had to focus on the semi-final and final, where we finished second. I was leading with a good margin over Niclas until the corner where he passed me: I felt a hit at the rear and I nearly spun. Straight away I thought it should be a penalty, but when it is with the stewards you never know how it will work out…and then after about an hour, I found out I had won; my first win! Of course you never want to win in the stewards’ room but in the end it wasn’t about that: it was all about the pace that we had right from the start of the weekend, which is a great sign for the future. Now we come away with 30 points, which is the best way to start the season.”
To come here and achieve what we did, as a private team again with so many question marks before the start of the season, is an amazing achievement and I’m so proud of everyone in the team. Now we know that we’re on the pace, which we could see from the very first session. But then I think nobody could have predicted what happened next, with the big crash for Timmy and then such a dramatic final for Kevin. In the end, he completely deserves this victory and I’m so happy for him. The damage to Timmy’s car was very bad, but now that we’ve had a chance to look at it, it’s definitely fixable, so we should see him out in the same car for Barcelona. Abu Dhabi certainly provided us with a start to the season that we’ll always remember!
Round Two of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will be held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which had previously been the season opener for the past two years. It’s a circuit that Kevin Hansen knows particularly well, securing the FIA European Rallycross Championship title here in 2016 with a round victory. Elder brother Timmy is definitely no slouch around here either, with two podium finishes in WRX to his name. Can he make it three this year? We’ll find out in three weeks time, as the WRX world tour rolls on to Barcelona in just three weeks time, kicking off on April 27.