HANSEN BROTHERS TAKE STUNNING COMEBACK WIN AND PODIUM IN FRANCE
Timmy and Kevin Hansen showed incredible fighting spirit during World RX of France at Lohéac, scoring victory and third place respectively after starting third and sixth in the Final.
Both had some difficult runs in qualifying, with faster starting cars able to jump ahead and take qualifying points away from both drivers.
But a sensational turnaround began in Q4 on Sunday afternoon, with Timmy leading the way thanks to the fastest race time and fastest single lap of the weekend on his way to being Top Qualifier. He was beaten to the first corner in his semi-final on older tyres, so lined up third for the final.
Kevin's starting position on the outside of the grid in the first three qualifiers set him back and although he managed fourth in Q3, he qualified only 10th. But it was the beginning of a rousing comeback: he went from fifth to third in his semi-final, passing Timur Timerzyanov for fourth on lap one and then leaping past Timo Scheider for a place in the Final on the last lap, coming out just ahead when the German driver took his joker.
Lohéac is a notoriously hard track to pass on but despite starting third and sixth, Timmy and Kevin were up to first and third by turn two of the Final. As leading duo Andreas Bakkerud and Niclas Grönholm both went wide at turn one, Timmy kept it clean and tidy, slipping down the inside of both for a lead he held comfortably to the end, scoring his second win at Lohéac and his third of 2019.
“This weekend has been amazing", said Timmy. "Coming here, we have so much support from the French fans. We're getting so much love from them, they're supporting us, I can feel it going out on track.
“I also love to drive here. We can feel that the Peugeot is comfortable around these corners and I was also feeling very comfortable this weekend. I needed a perfect Q4 to be in the race and we got it just when we needed it, and got the pole, so that was very important for the weekend.
“I was all in for the final: I was going to push very hard and then Bakkerud and Grönholm opened the door for me, so I sneaked by. Those were six brilliant laps. On the last lap, I remembered that back in 2015, my dad told me to enjoy this lap, and I saw I had a big gap, so again, I took in the atmosphere, looked up at the grandstands, and I felt the feeling of leading the last lap in Lohéac. To cross the finish line first is such an amazing feeling.”
Kevin's performance in the Final was equally impressive. After moving to third place, he stayed out and continued to push, waiting until the last lap to take his joker. It was timed to perfection: he came out a fraction ahead of Rokas Baciuška to secure a stunning podium finish, having started from the back row in both the final and his semi-final. Between Timmy and Kevin in second place was GC Kompetition driver Anton Marklund, ensuring an all-Swedish podium.
“I have no idea how I got into the final and semi-final!", exclaimed Kevin. "I pushed really, really hard. I was so unlucky with the draw. I don't know if I'm lucky or it's random but we are here. For the semi-final, I was sure on the last lap I was not going to make it. Then I saw Baciuška overtake Scheider, and Scheider lost a lot of time, and I saw that I could make it.
“We started last in the final but had a really good launch, then it was all kinds of mess in turn one. I saw Bakkerud got pushed out wide and I just knew: that’s the guy that I have to beat. When I took the joker it was mega-close against Baciuška: I selected a higher gear at turn five than I had used all weekend, kept the throttle lit up, almost lost it, Baciuška helped me save it, and that secured the podium.
“I am a rallycrosser and I am not a perfect man in all conditions, but I get through it like a machine! I never give up. This is why we are in the fight.”
Team HANSEN MJP almost doubled its lead in the teams' championship, its gap climbing from 17 to 33 points after the team's home round away from home in France. While Kevin lost the lead in the drivers' championship, he is now tied with Timmy for second place on 158 points, only two points off the championship lead with two rounds remaining.