Team Peugeot-Hansen looked to repeat their 2015 victory at the 2016 World RX of Canada and after a late call up to the Supercar Final, Timmy Hansen delivered on that promise as he took a surprise first win of the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship.
Both Hansen and team-mate Sebastien Loeb were fast during Qualifying, however in the dry conditions the teams two Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars didn’t seem to be quick enough to match the pace of eventual Top Qualifier Petter Solberg. Loeb would finish Q1 in 8th place whilst Hansen was two places further back however in Q2 whilst Loeb went on to go third fastest, Hansen suffered a mechanical issue that saw him last in Q2 but gave him the chance to set a competitive time in Q3 once the team fixed the car.
Q3 saw Hansen go sixth fastest whilst Loeb was under two tenths of a second behind Q3 winner Johan Kristoffersson with both drivers then going fast enough in Q4 to qualify for the Semi-Finals. Whilst Solberg utterly dominated Semi-Final One and left the rest of the field for dust, Loeb suffered further in the mid pack and the dusty conditions which saw the French driver finish in fourth place and miss out on a place in the Final. Hansen would also finish in fourth place in Semi-Final Two as he raced to keep up with the leading trio of Andreas Bakkerud, Timur Timerzyanov and Topi Heikkinen. This would leave the Swedish driver to watch on from the sidelines, however a stewards decision saw Hansen promoted to the Final on the back row from which he would go on to race through the field and take the win.
Hansen was overjoyed with his surprise win, “It’s like I’m dreaming! Right up to winning the final, it had been something of a complex meeting for me. We were down on top speed and this is an extremely close championship with plenty of drivers who are capable of winning.
“It was just beginning to sink in that I hadn’t qualified for the final when I was told that I actually had a place in the last six after all. Because of the storm, we fitted rain tyres for the final which went perfectly for us. What a day!”
Loeb took away the positive from a difficult weekend at a new circuit, “This obviously isn’t the sort of result I was hoping for. The weekend got off to a poor start and it didn’t end much better.
“After trying a number of different ideas, we managed to make progress with the car’s set-up and I succeeded in posting some good finishes in Q2 and Q3. I had a tangle in Q4, however, and that dropped me to the second row for the start of my semi-final when I got caught in the pack, in thick dust, so I wasn’t able to reach the final.”
Team Principle Kenneth Hansen was very happy to see the team take its first win of the year, “It’s been a very special weekend for us! It was a weird feeling switching from the disappointment of not having a car in the final to the elation of winning! We had a little trouble with the faster part of the circuit but our drivers coped well with the more technically-challenging parts.
“The disqualification of another competitor was obviously a game-changer for us and the rain that started to fall just before the start was a help because the PEUGEOT 208 WRX and Timmy are both strong in wet conditions. He went on to produce a faultless race and our tactics worked a treat. We’re all thrilled to have won. It’s a result we worked very hard to achieve.”
The team now looks ahead to its second home race of the year, the World RX of France, which takes place at Loheac on 2-4 September.