Hell, 16 June 2019 – Kevin Hansen went from the back row of the World RX of Norway Final to score a thrilling podium finish in Hell, going toe-to-toe with his championship rivals.
Team HANSEN MJP leaves Hell still leading both championships, with Timmy Hansen a single point ahead of Kevin in the drivers’ championship, while both drivers contribute to an 18 point advantage in the teams’ championship.
A tricky start on Saturday, where both Timmy and Kevin were repeatedly stuck in traffic, was turned around on Sunday morning with a 1-2 finish in Qualifying 3. Another strong run from both in Qualifying 4 put them on the first and second row of the grid respectively for Semi Final 2.
But there was a plot twist: a sudden downpour turned what had been a dry and sunny weekend into a wet weather Semi Final. With low grip on the front row, Timmy bogged down and dropped to last, mounting a heroic comeback and almost grabbing third place.
Timmy was beaten to that position by Kevin, whose late joker lap paid off and put him just in front of his older brother. A brilliant start from the back row in the Final put Kevin up to second place at the start, which briefly became first by passing Kevin Abbring for the lead.
Kevin dropped only one place when taking his joker lap and secured a very hard-fought second place, after a defensive masterclass over eventual winner Niclas Grönholm. He fell behind only due to a one second penalty for Kevin’s pass on Grönholm during the first lap in an otherwise faultless performance.
Qualifying 1 – 4th
Qualifying 2 – 6th
Qualifying 3 – 1st
Qualifying 4 – 2nd
Semi-Final – 4th
Qualifying 1 –10th
Qualifying 2 – 7th
Qualifying 3 – 2nd
Qualifying 4 – 4th
Semi-Final – 3rd
Final – 2nd
Both drivers’ pace was great in the dry after an improvement in set-up late on Saturday. But that effort went out the window in the Semi Finals when it started raining heavily!
Hell lived up to its reputation. After the rain came down, the middle and back rows of the grid provided the best launch, while the front row was almost the worst place to start.
After picking up a position in Abu Dhabi due to another driver’s penalty, Kevin would be demoted a place in a similar manner. It’s all square now!
The number of qualifying sessions this weekend where Timmy Hansen set the fastest lap, including the outright fastest lap of the weekend.
“Though the Semi Final didn’t go our way, we scored some good points this weekend. We had a strong qualifying and that built a good foundation in terms of points. We kept ourselves in a good position before the rain came.
“The rain before the Finals was a big shock and turned everything upside down. We went through the entire season without wet conditions and suddenly it was fully wet. That meant we had to guess a few things and so we didn’t choose the right settings for the launch. I had a poor start and tried everything I could to get past, but couldn’t find a gap.
“Having Niclas back for this weekend was good to see, even if he beat us this time! It was nice to have a really good challenge through the weekend. If it had stayed dry we could have had a real battle on our hands. It was just not my turn today. I did my best, but today was not my day.”
“The first day was tricky. The speed was there but we had to start from the outside, which is really tricky in Hell. For the second day we adopted some of Timmy’s set-up, made some changes, and that seemed to make a difference.
“Looking at what happened when the rain came, starting from the second row for the Semi Final was a lot better than the first, so I was very happy to start there! We pulled off some amazing launches in the wet.
“I had to drive carefully in the Final as there was wiper fluid spraying everywhere inside the car! That also meant I couldn’t clear mud from the windscreen too. But we managed to cope with that well. Gronholm behind me pushed so hard but we kept our cool, did our thing and kept the grip all the way. With a good joker lap we managed to finish P2 but then got a penalty and were P3 instead. It’s not nice when you get a penalty but in the end I think it was a fair decision.”
“It was a bit of a mixed weekend for us. Saturday wasn’t ideal with a few mistakes from us as a team and some problems for the drivers out on the track. Sunday went much better but in the end, it wasn’t the result we wanted.
“Looking at the positives, we did learn a lot. We expected to have a little more speed here but we’ve learned a lot and there are some things we’ll do differently for the future, especially the next round at Höljes, our home event.”
It’s an exciting time of year for Team HANSEN MJP, as the team heads to its home round of the championship at Höljes. Team principal Kenneth Hansen is the most successful driver of all time here, taking five Division 1 European RX wins behind the wheel. Kevin also scored a Euro RX win here in 2016, but the team is still seeking an elusive first win in World RX after the nearest of misses in 2015. Hopefully 2019 will be our year!