Loeb thrilled with challenge as Team Peugeot Hansen prepare to defend WRX title

Team Peugeot Hansen are ready to roar as they head in to the third season of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy this weekend as the season opens in Portugal.

Timmy Hansen returns behind the wheel of the Peugeot 208 WRX and is joined this season by rallycross rookie (but nine time World Rally Champion) Sébastien Loeb as the team look to retain their Teams’ championship title and sweep the drivers championship.

Peugeot Sport Director Bruno Famin spoke of the work that has been put in over the off season. “We worked hard over the winter break to improve the car. This season, we hope we will continue to progress and defend our Teams’ crown, while also challenging for the Drivers’ crown, helped by our new WRX novice signing, Sébastien Loeb.

“Sébastien will need time to acclimatise to the world of rallycross. We know he’s a fast learner but we are also aware that the level of the sport is increasing year after year. It’s a discipline for specialists and everything will be new to Sébastien, whereas Timmy is last year’s vice-champion.”

Since taking his record ninth WRC title, Loeb has tried his hand at a number of discipline’s including sportscars, touring cars, his record breaking Pikes Peak run and earlier this year, the Dakar rally.

“I’m thrilled to be facing a new challenge.” said Loeb. “The car is a pleasure to drive. It is powerful and handles very nicely. Compared with a rally car, it has much more grunt and it responds a bit less progressively. You need a driving style that allows you to keep on top of it and that’s great fun!

Sébastien Loeb - Credit: Red Bull Content Pool / Oskar Bakke
Sébastien Loeb – Credit: Red Bull Content Pool / Oskar Bakke

“At the same time, I need to find out for myself about things like fighting door to door, race strategy, tyre management, joker laps, etc. I will need to learn quickly and, above all, sense things like when to make an attempt to overtake because you don’t get that many chances! I also hope I will be fast enough. For the moment, I have a good feeling but I know that there isn’t much opportunity to practice in order to get into the swing.”

Timmy Hansen is looking forward to getting his season underway after finishing the 2015 season in the runner-up position, only missing out to Petter Solberg at the final round.

“We were very strong during the second half of 2015 and I hope to continue on that momentum.” said Hansen. “I felt like I was at one with the car. For 2016, we have made some improvements to the programme and I’m really looking forward to competing again. The world championship is tremendous fun!

“Also, I will have a new team-mate in Sébastien Loeb. He’s one of the world’s greatest drivers, so it’s going to be interesting and I’m sure we will both be able to learn from each other to take the team even further forward.”

The 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy gets under way in two days time as the series heads to Portugal, theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will be bringing you full coverage of the season with exclusive interviews and behind the scenes news.