It was a weekend of mixed feelings for Kevin Hansen: the reigning European Rallycross Supercar champion as he entered last weekend’s FIA World Rallycross Championship round at Hockenheim without any expectation of a top-step finish, but still eager to prove his worth against more experienced rivals.
The first qualifying races on Friday started for the better, not just for the whole team (with Loeb fastest) but also for Kevin himself, who closed the session an impressive third overall, ahead of his brother Timmy, reigning champion Mattias Ekström and former title winner Petter Solberg.
A result that’s even more impressive considering not just Kevin’s relative lack of experience, but also the fact that he was still driving a 2016-spec car, as opposed to Timmy and Loeb’s latest-spec machines. An equally impressive fifth-fastest time followed in Q2, while fourteenth and fifteenth-place finishes on Saturday’s Q3 and Q4 impacted the 18-year-old’s confidence, who was, however, still able to reach the semifinals.
In his semifinal race, he entered turn one in third place, then another driver hit him, causing him to spin out of the track. He promptly recovered from the spin, but managed no better than a fifth-place finish, denying him any chance to contest the final.
“Everything went very well on Day 1,” said Kevin, “I managed to mix it with the championship’s pace-setters. I didn’t have the same feeling on Saturday, however, and I lost a little confidence. So ending up seventh after qualifying wasn’t so bad.
“I had hoped to find some of Friday’s form again in my semi-final and I was third at the first turn when sometime hit me hard from behind and forced me into a spin. After that, I couldn’t hope for much better than fifth. It was a frustrating weekend, so I’m glad there’s only a week to go until the next race!”
Next weekend, the World Rallycross Championship will move to the Circuit Jules Tacheny in Mettet, Belgium.
Last year, the Belgian round was also part of the FIA European Rallycross for Supercars, and Kevin scored his first ERX event win there. He then went on to win three more of the five meetings, and with them the European Rallycross Champion crown, eight years after his father, team boss Kenneth Hansen, won the last of his fourteen titles.