2016 was a good year for Kevin Hansen. Not only did he become the youngest ever winner of the European Rallycross Championship, but he also earned the prestigious FIA Rookie of the Year, that only twelve months previously the likes of Max Verstappen won. Now, he has made a full-time move up to World Rallycross, where he is teammates with his older brother, Timmy Hansen, and nine-time World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb. We caught up with him to chat about his season so far.
You recently posted on social media that your car is the 2016 model and that at times it struggles in comparison to the 2017 cars. Have you driven a 2017 car before or what do you feel the deficits are between them?
“At Lydden when I wrote that I was really struggling to keep up with the development of the new cars, and of course it’s good for everybody, especially Peugeot the that developments have gone really well with the new generation of car. When I got the opportunity to race in the World Championship, I knew it was going to be in an older car. But I took the challenge and wanted to see how far I could go.
“I’ve never tried a 2017 car, I’ve only been testing whilst it has been testing, so I’ve never driven it and don’t know how it feels, but I can see the lap times that when I push to the max in my car it is not keeping up with the others.”
Although you competed in some Supercar events at World rounds last year, what has the transition to full-time supercar driver been like?
“It’s been really nice. Being in the World Championship, it’s where you want to be and where you want to compare yourself, so to be here full time is great, and even with an older car, it’s a good opportunity to compare my pace relative to the other guys who have similar times to me. Having twelve races a year is really increasing the level of my driving so every race I’m becoming more confident and it’s just fantastic to be a part of the championship.”
How have you/do you balance finishing your education with racing?
“It’s been really tricky. I never bring homework to races with me, and then when I go home I try to keep up with it as much as I can. I always try to have something to do at home, which has been school. I’ve managed to finish it, so I’m really happy with that. I graduated recently, which is a great feeling. Competing in the World Championship and completing school is a nice achievement.”
Which track do you think will be strongest for you this year?
“I think the technical tracks suit me and the car. It’s been shown this past day (in Hell, Norway) that it has been really good for me – I’ve been fast (even if Q2 today wasn’t the best). But Norway and Höljes could be strong tracks for me, as well as Loheac. I hope to gain some good results there.”
Did you expect to win FIA Rookie of the Year last year and what was did it feel like winning the same award that the likes of Max Verstappen won the year before?
“It was really a surprise. My dad (Kenneth Hansen) is in the Driver’s Commission and he told me when he got home that I was among the few that could be chosen. But a few days later, I came into the workshop after a day of school and my mum ran to me and told me that I had won the award. Obviously, I was really happy to win such a big award, and I think it’s the biggest achievement of my career.”
What are your aims for the rest of the season?
“Try to come back to a rhythm. The last few races have been a bit difficult, but from now on we should be a bit better. I’m getting my confidence back 100% after the crash, and I think I want to try to be best of the rest after the four factory teams and eight drivers – so try to be ninth! That’s maybe the best goal I can have, and I’ll also try to get to every final, of course.”
What would you say has been your favourite achievement to date?
“For my career, it’s the Rookie of the Year Award, but also the European Championship that won me the award. It’s one of the hardest things to get in the FIA, so it really is a great achievement for me.”
What is it like being in a team with not only your brother but Sebastien Loeb as well?
“I enjoy it. After last year where we all worked really well together, where I was matching and sometimes quicker than them in the World Championship races, and the good teamwork is continuing this year.”