FIA World RallycrossInterviews

INTERVIEW: Susann Hansen – “It feels like I’m floating around, living my dream”

3 Mins read
Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Hansen. A name that is associated with rallycross today and has been for decades.

Brothers Kevin Hansen and Timmy Hansen are the driving force in the FIA World Rallycross Championship but it is their parents who they have learnt so much from.

Kenneth Hansen, 14-time FIA European Champion for Rallycross from the late 1980s until the end of the 2000s. Kenneth is the husband of Susann Hansen, one of the most successful female drivers in rallycross history.

Susann become European champion in 1994 after beating Austrian Manfred Beck to the title by just two points. She says it remains a very special moment in her life: “Even it being so many years ago I can still feel the fireworks of euphoria inside of me when thinking back to the first win in Portugal and then taking the overall win on the last race of the season.

26 years on, Hansen is the only woman to win a European Rallycross title and motorsport is still a predominantly masculine world. Hansen admits she occasionally finds it a little irritating that she grew up in an environment that was not very diverse.

Sometimes it is frustrating, sometimes I don’t feel anything as I’m used to it.

“I’m a strong believer in diversity. A mix of all kind of people is healthy. I wish we could have, not only, more females, but also more people from all over the world and in all ages and shapes.

“I think motorsport is a fantastic place and look forward to have more women in the sport in the future. Sport shall united.

Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Her driving career ended in 1995 after she has a severe accident in Fuglau, Austria. Now, Hansen is a visible character in the spotters tower at every World Rallycross event as she tries to give her sons, Timmy and Kevin the perfect strategy: “It’s always a big pressure not to make something [go] wrong.

It is so easy for people outside to judge us in the decisions we make, or don’t make. I’m afraid all the time to do something wrong. My heart is so involved that sometimes the head has difficulties following.

But without the passion, without the heart being involved you can’t take the quick decisions. You know when you react on instinct, on experience.

“I’m a very emotional person and I oIen think more with my heart than my head. Sometimes that is my weakness, but I want to believe it is more oIen my strength.”

The 53-year-old says the pressure and feeling in the spotters tower is the same as the emotions of being a racing driver and three key things are keeping her motivated and ultra competitive: “My performance anxiety. My ambition. My commitment. The feeling of accomplishment when succeeding.

Sometimes that is not only winning a race, sometimes the biggest victories in a team are never shown on TV.

Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

When close friends or in the Hansen’s case, brothers, compete there is always talk of the potential of a rivalry. Susann is not worried about the prospect of things becoming too intense: “They are brothers, they want what is best for the other one.

“The competition between them is also bringing them forward in their driving abilities. They help each other to become better.

“I assume when talking about rivalry between the brothers is a way wanting to see drama – or at least some problems. It is strange that so many ask this question.

The FIA World Rallycross Championship is set to introduce electric-powered cars in 2022, Hansen believes it is the right move for the sport: “Rallycross on the World Championship level should be the peak of the sport. In the forefront. Sport reflects society.

If society asks for a better environmental agenda, then yes, we shall follow, we shall push and encourage the sport and, in this case, rallycross to take its responsibility.

Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

It is interesting to note that Hansen thinks the sport needs manufacturers at world championship level despite every team on the grid being a privateer for the upcoming season.

When asked who do you think will be challenging Kevin and Timmy Hansen for the title this year she said three names: “Johan Kristffersson, Kevin Abbring and Antron Marklund.”

Team Hansen will continue to be headed by Kenneth and Susann Hansen this year in the World Rallycross Championship as they look to defend their drivers’ and teams’ titles.

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About author
Love sport, especially motorsport. Fan of F1, Formula E, IndyCar, BTCC, Rallycross and V8 Supercars. So not too much then. Covering World RX for The Checkered Flag.
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