Category Archives: Saison 2019

Endurance Suzuka 8 Hours

KRT winners, SRC Champions!

At the end of a crazy final won by Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, the Kawasaki SRC team won its first World Endurance Championship title.

All the action happened five minutes from the finish. Jonathan Rea had just taken control of the race after overtaking the official Yamaha ridden by the trio Nakasuga, Lowes and Van der Mark and the Honda with Takahashi, Kyonari and Bradl in the saddle. Stuck in thirteenth place, the SRC Kawasaki team had lost all hope of taking the title. Handicapped by tyre problems, delayed by the unfortunate entry of a pace car and a fall by Nigon, Gilles Stafler’s team had more or less accepted their fate. And then the Suzuki of the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), placed ninth, broke its engine … “It was a crazy end to the race,” said the boss of the Kawasaki team. “We thought we’d lost the title for one point, and we ended up winning it with a five-point lead. It’s true we had a stroke of luck this time round, but it was so bad at the Bol d’Or that I think we deserve the crown.” It was a first for the Kawasaki SRC team, but also the first for Erwan Nigon and Jérémy Guarnoni, in tears at the arrival of this incredible Japanese final. “Everyone has done a great job this season,” said Davi Checa, the third man on the SRC. Our success is well deserved.” Shortly after Etienne Masson broke his engine, Jonathan Rea skidded on the oil left by the SERT Suzuki, forcing the race management to fly the red flag. The four minutes that remained in the race prevented the entry of the pace car, and the ranking of the Eight Hours of Suzuka was therefore based on the bike positions in the lap preceding Rea’s fall. The last time the Kawasaki team KRT won at Suzuka was 26 years ago.

STATEMENTS:

Jonathan Rea: “I cannot believe what is happening really. From being dejected and feeling that everything was out of our hands, I had already gone back to the hotel, said goodbye to all the guys, with lots of tears. I was in the restaurant already, ordering dinner, when my mechanic Uri called me and said, ‘Hey, are you sitting down?’ I thought he was going to ask me to go to another restaurant – but he then told me we had won the 8 Hours. I think common sense prevailed in that one. I have no words because I am really emotional and happy. The strategy was to work on fuel consumption and race consistency and make no mistakes. I feel we executed that quite well although I got quite tired and cramped at the end. But we prepared the best way possible with the limited time we had. I am so proud to be part of the project and what an effort from KRT, KHI, KMJ who prepared for this race in two tests. During the race it is like hell, the hardest race you can ever imagine, but getting a result like this almost makes me want to come back for more. The emotional roller coaster is unreal.”

Leon Haslam: “From everyone being in tears to getting the news sitting in a restaurant that we actually did win it, I have no words to describe how I feel. The Suzuka 8 Hours is always one of the hardest races of the year. The effort we put in to win, from us, the team and Kawasaki means it has been a big roller coaster of emotion. When the oil went down and the situation happened at the end; words cannot describe the lows we had. But when the good news came through, the highs were just as high. In the second half of each stint I really struggled physically but the bike was working well. I am so happy and I want to thank Kawasaki for this opportunity; also the whole team, Toprak and Johnny, and we pushed as hard as we could. It is a shame that we did not get to stand on the top of the podium but the result is in and we have won the Suzuka 8 Hours.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu: “Today I am very tired after watching the race for eight hours! But I am very happy for Johnny and Leon because that was an incredible job today. We are all happy and thank you to everyone. For me this was my first time here – and our team won.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team manager“This race has been outstanding and I think for the public, the fans and everyone it has been the most incredible Suzuka 8 Hours. Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki – the riders and the factories – have been amazing everybody and they all saw a great race. The best point is that we finally got the victory after Johnny made an incredible last riding stint. The strategy we planned was very good so at the end we got the victory.” 

DS TECHEETAH AND JEAN-ÉRIC VERGNE DOUBLE WORLD CHAMPIONS

After an incredible season, DS TECHEETAH has today clinched the Teams’ Title and Jean-Éric Vergne has become the first double world champion in ABB FIA Formula E history.

After two nervrecking battles in Brooklyn’s Red Hook district, Jean-Éric kept it cool to cross the line as the 2018/2019 ABB FIA Formula E champion.

Mark Preston, DS TECHEETAH Team Principal: “This finale weekend couldn’t have started any worse with the incidents on track yesterday, and finished any better with the double titles today. People can call winning a championship once a flash in the pan, but to have done it twice is no mean feat and solidifies our position as front runners of the championship. I’d like to say a huge congrats to Jean-Éric and everyone in the team and back in the factory, because motorsport is truly a team sport in the end of the day. A team needs to run like a well oiled machine and ours is running like clock work.”

Xavier Mestalan Pinon, DS Performance Director: It’s been four years since we started our commitment in Formula E and we always had the goal of winning. Now it’s done, we are champions! We’re both Teams’ Champions with DS TECHEETAH and Drivers’ Champions with Jean-Éric Vergne. It’s historic and we are so proud! To achieve this level of performance you have to be in the right place at the right time and with the right people. Tonight this is done. The whole team should be very proud! We did it!”

Jean-Éric Vergne, Double Formula E World Champion: “Today has been just incredible. The weekend didn’t start in the way we expected and today wasn’t ideal but none of that matters now because we managed to get both championship titles. It’s still unreal to have become the first driver to be a double world champion and I can only thank my amazing team and everyone involved behind the scenes. This is for us!”

André Lotterer: “Huge congrats to JEV and to the whole DS TECHEETAH team. I’ve never experienced a team like this in my whole motorsport career before and everyone has deserved this double title win today. I wish I could have contributed to extending the gap even further but it wasn’t my weekend, that happens and the main thing is that we’re both Drivers’ and Teams’ champions!”

Superbike World Championship – United States

Rea takes a break

After taking control of the championship in Great Britain, Jonathan Rea accelerated on the Laguna Seca circuit to leave his contenders behind in the overall standings.

The quadruple Superbike world champion could not dream of a better scenario before the summer break. At Donington, in early July, Jonathan Rea shone by winning all three races of the weekend to overtake Alvaro Bautista, leader of the championship since the start of the season in Australia. A week later, in California, the Kawasaki rider scored more points by taking advantage of two errors made by his opponent to break away in the championship. After the start of season when he had had to bend without breaking, in recent weeks Jonathan Rea has found the recipe for success. On the Laguna Seca circuit, the Brit showed his current form by setting a new track record of 1’22″700. After winning on Saturday afternoon, he won again in the Superpole race before finishing second in the final leg behind Chaz Davies. “I’d never imagined a weekend like this in the United States,” said Rea. “I think I could have even won on Sunday afternoon if we hadn’t changed the settings of the bike before the last race. There was some floating on the front end and I preferred to keep close to Chaz who is not a rival for the title for the time being. The balance sheet for the weekend is extremely positive. We’ve regained the upper hand over our opponents. We’ll need to keep it in September when the championship starts up again.” Victim of a fall on Saturday, Leon Haslam had to continue his weekend with a painful hand and a weak arm on one of the most physical routes in the Championship calendar. The Brit showed his courage by finishing fifth in the sprint race and sixth in the last race on Sunday afternoon. “I managed to catch up with Sykes and Lowes but I didn’t have the strength to attack them,” lamented Jonathan Rea’s teammate. Toprak Razgatlioglu also confirmed his current form by crossing the finish line of both races in third place and finished fourth in the Superpole sprint.

The Championship

In two weekends, Jonathan Rea has completely change status. He’s now at the top of the championship score sheet with an 81-point lead over Alvaro Bautista. In Laguna Seca, the Kawasaki rider won his 80th victory in the Superbike World Championship and scored his 156th podium. Fifth overall, Leon Haslam is hot on the heels of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, while Toprak Razgatlioglu after his two podiums in California has consolidated his sixth place. The next event is in Portugal, on the Portimao circuit, on September 8.

Superbike World Championship – UK

Rea leads the championship

By winning the two weekend races at Donington plus the Superpole sprint, Jonathan Rea took all the points he needed to take the lead in the Superbike World Championship for the first time of the season. 

In front of his supporters, Jonathan Rea didn’t do things by halves. Clearly back in shape in recent weeks, the Kawasaki rider just won the three races organised on the Donington circuit. The first in the rain, the other two on a dry circuit. “I had an impeccable motorcycle this weekend,” said the four-time world champion. “Its stability allowed me to make all the difference, on both wet and dry tracks. I couldn’t dream of doing better on my home turf of Donington. Honestly, I didn’t expect to have a weekend like this. Now I’m looking forward to the next races and tracks on which we should do even better.” Leon Haslam also delighted the British public. Third on Saturday afternoon, Rea’s teammate made it to the Sprint podium before finishing fifth in the last race of the weekend. “I felt fine on eighty percent of the circuit,” said Haslam. “The last stop and go sector posed some major problems, but overall I can’t complain about the results of the weekend.” Toprak Razgatlioglu also shone in England. Finishing only thirteenth on Saturday in the rain, the Turkish rider clocked up two second places the next day on a dry circuit. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias started out in the lead on a fight from start to finish with Jules Cluzel and Federico Caricasulo. The French rider finally passed the chequered flag in third place, earning him his second podium in a row. Hikari Okubo finished the race in thirteenth position. 

The Championship

The current rider to beat, Jonathan Rea took control of the Superbike World Championship by chalking up three victories and taking advantage of Bautista’s fall on Saturday afternoon. Leader for the first time since the start of the season, the Kawasaki rider now leads even the Spaniard by 24 points. “We can be satisfied with our progress, but don’t let’s get over-excited,” said the four-time world champion. “In Jerez, we were 61 points behind: everything can change from one race to the next. We must continue to work and keep well focused.” Still fifth, Leon Haslam has reduced Alex Lowes’s lead to just five points. He is still ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu who now has 153 points. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias is fourth. The French rider is 50 points behind Jules Cluzel. Hikari Okubo has slipped to fifth place in the standings, nine points behind his teammate.

KEVIN HANSEN SCORES HOME WORLD RX PODIUM IN SWEDEN

Höljes, 07 July 2019 – Team HANSEN MJP strengthened its lead in both the FIA World Rallycross Championship drivers’ and teams’ classifications, with Kevin Hansen scoring a second place and both cars making the Final.

A challenging start to the weekend on Saturday left Kevin and Timmy Hansen P9 and P16 after Qualifying 2 respectively: Timmy had picked up a puncture in Q1 that left him P21, while Kevin faced the worst track conditions of all five heats in Q2 and lost time.

But a brilliant comeback in Q3 and Q4 put them both back into the fight, lining up second and third for Semi Final 1 on Sunday. Timmy went for the lap one joker strategy, while Kevin then took the lead a couple of laps in, ending up in a door-to-door duel as Kevin exited from his joker lap.

There were no orders from team boss and 14-time European RX champion Kenneth, with both free to race for position. A great fight ensued, with Kevin keeping the inside line for the Velodrome to take the lead back after losing it momentarily, leading his brother home in second.

The final was a mix of joy and sadness, as a potential double podium disappeared. A great overtaking move into the joker on lap one put Timmy third, which became second when Kevin took his joker. But a puncture on lap three ended his hopes, finishing sixth.

A determined Kevin locked his sights on compatriot Sebastian Eriksson after his joker, closing in during the final laps. A last corner move nearly worked, deftly trying to squeeze down the inside, though not quite enough to take the win.

Kevin has now retaken the lead of the FIA World RX drivers’ championship, six points ahead of his brother Timmy. Team HANSEN MJP’s lead in the teams’ championship is now up to 43 points, with four championship rounds remaining.

WORLD RX OF SWEDEN: RESULTS

Timmy Hansen

Qualifying 1 20th
Qualifying 2 4th
Qualifying 3 2nd
Qualifying 4 6th
Semi-Final 2 2nd
Final 6th

Kevin Hansen

Qualifying 1 4th
Qualifying 2 17th
Qualifying 3 3rd
Qualifying 4 3rd
Semi-Final 2 1st
Final 2nd

TALKING POINTS


There was no home victory for Team HANSEN MJP but it was still a great weekend all around, with points gained on key rivals in both championships.

Höljes lived up to its reputation as one of the best rallycross tracks in the world, providing breathtaking action for the fans from start to finish.

Timmy and Kevin, who are still 1-2 in the title race, were competing head-to-head for position more than once this weekend. Both showed their class, racing hard but fair in their semi-final battle.

THE BIG NUMBER

48,300

The number of spectators that came to Höljes for the ‘Magic Weekend’ of World RX action, a new record.

21 – TIMMY HANSEN

“It was a good day today, recovering to fifth position from 16th in qualifying. We saved a lot of points with a good result.

“The Finals were completely dry, which is how I prefer Höljes. The Semi Final was brilliant – it was a very interesting race and battle all the way through with Kevin. We came out side by side after the joker; the racing was very fair and we were still fighting very hard on the track, but in the right way. I did everything I could to overtake him but still gave him space. That’s how we race and this time he won the battle and the Semi Final, which was great for Kevin.

“The final was a good race. I made a nice pass on Grönholm into the joker on the opening lap, which put me in a good position to chase Eriksson for the lead. I was close but I tried too hard, pushed too much and went over the limit and got a puncture. I wanted to win too much, but that’s me, I need to try! If I’m in a position to win I will always try and give it everything. This time it didn’t pay off but it will another time.”

71 – KEVIN HANSEN

“It was really a tough afternoon. The whole weekend has been completely crazy! Having such different weather during the weekend makes it hard, but we managed to stay in the front, and that was really important for the Semi Final. When I came out of the joker, I saw someone on the inside. I almost spun and didn’t notice it was Timmy until I came back the right way! It was a big shock but we managed it well.

“In the final, when I took my joker and saw Timmy ahead, I thought we would work together to catch the leader but unfortunately he had a puncture, so I had to get past him quickly. It worked and I managed to catch Eriksson, thinking that he had a puncture. So I though he’d run wide at the final corner and I’d stick my nose up on the inside, but he didn’t have a puncture after all! So I had to back out.

“Second place at home feels amazing and in the end and we scored a lot of points for the championship, both for me and the team. It was a really cool event and a good weekend.”

THE BOSS KENNETH HANSEN

“I’m the spotter for Timmy, with Graham Rodemark as Kevin’s spotter, so we get the best out of both of them and try to beat each other. That’s how we have done things and will continue that way. It looked hard, and of course we can have trouble sometimes like getting a puncture, but we don’t want to give up racing and have them queuing up; we want to fight and that’s our spirit.

“We want to push Timmy and Kevin, so during the final I tried to push Timmy to catch Eriksson and we were on the way there. Then unfortunately he was a little tight in one place and broke the wheel rim and got a puncture. We could have played the cards safe and just stayed in position to secure second place but that’s not how we are. We want to fight to the end, we want to give the maximum and sometimes you lose but it’s worth it; I said that to Timmy. We gave it our all. Kevin did the same and in the end he was catching Eriksson and was right on his bumper. That was a thrilling fight and it also shows that both drivers gave everything to try to win.”

NEXT ROUND: WORLD RX OF CANADA

Round seven of the FIA World RX tour takes place in Canada, at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières. It’s a unique challenge as the only street circuit on the 2019 calendar, which also features the longest straight of the season. The track’s long history is as a circuit racing venue but when rallycross comes to town, it becomes 40% gravel, where the wide start/finish straight narrows down and features a few twists, plus the joker. Team HANSEN MJP won this event in 2015 and 2016, so hopes are high for a repeat in 2019!

Superbike World Championship – Kawasaki Hat-Trick

Kawasaki Hat-Trick

The weekend in Misano was a sunny one for the Kawasaki riders, especially Jonathan Rea, who won two races on the Italian track. The four-time world champion has thus considerably reduced Alvaro Bautista’s lead in the overall standings.

On Sunday afternoon, the Kawasaki brand wrote a page of history thanks to Jonathan Rea, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Leon Haslam. The two Brits and the Turk were all together on the last podium of the Superbike World Championship weekend organized on the Misano circuit. A magnificent hat trick, something the Japanese manufacturer had not achieved since 1993 on the Sugo circuit, ending a very productive weekend, especially for the reigning quadruple world champion. On Saturday, Jonathan Rea had already started to shine by signing his third Superpole of the season before winning on the finish line of the first race of the weekend more than three seconds ahead of Tom Sykes, his former teammate. A difficult race, run in the rain. “It was the first time of the season that I was riding on a wet track,” says Rea. “The track was tricky because the water level varied from one lap to another. I fought it out for a long time with Alex Lowes, until his fall that made my job easier. The bike was very stable, which helped me a lot in such difficult conditions.” Fifth in the Sunday Sprint after a small crash that robbed him of the podium, Rea won again in the last race, this time ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu and Leon Haslam. “A great weekend for Kawasaki,” summed up the Brit. Leon Haslam was already on the podium at the finish of the Sprint, and he could have done the same the day before if he had not fallen after thirteen laps. Before finishing second on Sunday afternoon, Razgatlioglu also fell on Saturday when he was seventh. The Turk redeemed himself the next day by chalking up a fourth place and a well-earned second place. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias also clinched his first podium with Kawasaki by placing third after an encouraging pole position. Hikari Okubo crossed the finish line in fifth position.

The Championship

Thanks to his first twin-win of the season, Jonathan Rea has considerably reduced the gap with the championship leader. The Brit is now only sixteen points from Alvaro Bautista. Still fifth, Leon Haslam is only eleven points away from Alex Lowes. Toprak Razgatlioglu has climbed to sixth place overall. In Supersport, Hikari Okubo has kept his fourth place while Lucas Mahias has dropped back back to fifth position, four points behind his Japanese teammate.

JEAN-ÉRIC VERGNE – THE KING OF BERN

Jean-Éric Vergne delivered an outstanding performance in today’s Swiss E-Prix to claim pole position, the race win and the voestalpine European races trophy. In addition to this, the Frenchman also became the first ABB FIA Formula E driver to hit pole position from Qualifying Group One and to win three times this season.

Team-mate André Lotterer just missed out on a super pole appearance and started P8 on the grid from where he fought his way up to fourth position with some nail-biting action. Unfortunately, a miscommunication between driver and team led to a post-race penalty that saw the German finish the E-Prix in P14.

Mark Preston, DS TECHEETAH Team Principal: Jean-Éric truly was on fire today. Vergne the king of Bern, and how well deserved. But I must also take this opportunity to give a lot of kudos to the team for this incredible performance. We find ourselves in a very familiar situation going into New York for the final two races now, leading both Drivers’ and Teams’ championships. We may have extended both with 32 and 43 respectively, but even though it may seem much, it’s not a comfortable lead in Formula E. There’s two more races to go in the double-header finale and there’s everything left to play for.

Xavier Mestalan Pinon, DS Performance Director: Congratulations to JEV and DS TECHEETAH team for this incredible third victory which brings us a little closer to both of the Season 5 titles. The latest improvements have paid off and have had a real advantage for this race. I would like to once again thank the whole team for the impressive efforts that have been made!

André Lotterer, P14: It was a shame to receive such a hard penalty in the end after having fought so hard together with my engineers to climb up the pack, it has for sure put a downer on things as the points for fourth would have been invaluable for my title hunt. Nevertheless, now we keep our heads down and prepare New York for a comeback and to end the season on a high.”

Jean-Éric Vergne, P1: The team worked so well, and it couldn’t have been a better day today. At the end with the rain it was really stressful. I had to be careful because I’d rather finish second than in the wall for the championship, so I was of course trying to win the race, but also being extra cautious. All in all a fantastic weekend for the team, pole position, victory and extending the lead in both championships. It went perfectly well and I’m very pleased with the work that we have done.

CITROËN FIGHTS TO SECURE PRECIOUS POINTS WITH THE C3 WRC IN SARDINIA

Although Citroën Total World Rally Team’s chances of a good overall result were compromised on day one, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia confirmed once again that they remain fierce competitors on the Power Stage, grabbing the second fastest time and four bonus points. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it to the finish in seventh overall, having managed the last two legs admirably.

After making a mistake on day one (SS5) as they attempted to minimise the major disadvantage of running first on Sardinia’s technical and very loose gravel roads, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia – having rejoined under Rally 2 rules on Saturday’s leg – were solely focused on attempting to grab a few bonus points on the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage during today’s short final leg (41.90km). Once again showing their incredible fighting spirit, the French six-time world champions claimed four points, which means they now lie second in the world championship standings, four points behind the new leader.

Whilst it falls short of Citroën Total World Rally Team’s hopes for this round, the result means that when the championship resumes after the summer break, they will tackle roads in Finland (1-4 August) that have already been cleaned by a competitor. The forthcoming break will undoubtedly be used by the Red Army to redouble its efforts in preparation for the second half of the season.

On gravel, the first leg tends to be decisive because it determines the running order for the rest of the rally, and Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm unfortunately experienced this first hand. They were running in sixth overall and were gradually getting their bearings when they dropped almost 40s when one of their tyres came loose (SS4). They put in a lot of hard work in the C3 WRC to move back up the leaderboard (stage win on SS5, second on SS9, just 0.1s off the pace), but were unable to finish the opening leg any higher than eighth, after also suffering a sensor issue (SS6). In spite of a less than ideal position in the running order on Saturday, they managed to produce a consistent, error-free performance on day two, as they continued to get to grips with the C3 WRC on gravel and regained seventh position when one of the other crews suffered a puncture. They ended the final leg in the same place. This race, which they managed intelligently once they were no longer able to fully express themselves, will undoubtedly help them to begin the next event, their home round in Finland, in the best possible shape.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“Sometimes in motorsport, you have a weekend where  things just don’t go your way and this weekend was clearly one of those. We’ll put it behind us and focus on the future. In running first on the road, the best we could have realistically hoped for would have been to finish around fifth, so my mistakes cost us a few points. But it is still incredibly close in the championship, even though I’m not the kind of person to take any pleasure from the misfortune of others, especially when it’s Ott. I’m now going to have a holiday and recharge my batteries. We’ll be back in Finland and try to do a lot better.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“Obviously, it wasn’t quite the result that we were hoping for. The problems we had on the first leg went a long way to determining the rest of our weekend. We weren’t able to perform at our true level given our position in the running order. It was pretty much impossible to make up ground on these roads, where the grip increases so much with each passing car. We also weren’t helped by making the wrong call on tyres on Saturday morning. But at least we made it to the finish. We’ll now get back to work so that we’re in better form for our home round in Finland.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL


What is your analysis of this weekend’s race in Sardinia?

Obviously, this isn’t the result we were hoping for, although we knew that running first on the road here, where the roads clean so much, Sébastien and Julien were bound to have their work cut out. We certainly can’t blame them for their mistakes, because such errors are so highly uncharacteristic. And they did a great job on the Power Stage, showing their incredible fighting spirit once again. Esapekka and Janne had a slightly disappointing first half of day one and unfortunately, this had a knock-on effect on the rest of their weekend, forcing them to carve out the racing line for the rest of the field. In Sardinia, it’s a disadvantage that is almost impossible to overcome. However, they managed to cope intelligently with the frustration involved, getting more miles under their belt in the C3 WRC and making it to the finish. They will now look get their season back on track in Finland, where we know they definitely have the potential to do very well.

With the championship so tight, it looks like the summer break may be more work than play…

Yes, Sébastien and Julien’s never say die attitude, combined with the dramatic end to the rally, means that the championship remains wide open. It doesn’t change the way in which we approach our WRC campaign at all, however. We are going to continue to deploy all our forces in the battle! We’re testing next week and one thing’s for sure, we will be redoubling our efforts to try and provide our drivers with the best weapons possible for the second half of the season.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Described by many observers as being more suited to a cross-country rally given the roughness of the road, the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage (6.89km) once again saw Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produce another majestic performance, despite being the first WRC crew to contest the stage.

Sébastien Ogier had predicted that the Power Stage would be very tough, given the extent to which the rough, gravel roads clean and provide more grip to those further down the running order. On these sorts of sandy roads, where ruts can form quickly, the ability to take risks could make all the difference. Sébastien and Julien produced an extremely committed performance, clearly shown in the utter concentration displayed on their faces in the on-board camera footage. Their driving, usually so clean and tidy, was extraordinarily aggressive, but their approach paid dividends at the finish! Only Andreas Mikkelsen, who started five places further down the running order, managed to go faster by just over two seconds. These hard-fought four points may yet prove decisive at the end of the season…

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1- Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3h32’27’’2
2- Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +13’’7
3- Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +32’’6
4- Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +33’’5
5- Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1’30’’1
6- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2’06’’7
7- Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) + 2’59’’6
8- Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4’40’’1
42- Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1h22’58’’5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1- Ott Tänak – 150 points
2- Sébastien Ogier – 146 points
3- Thierry Neuville – 143 points
4- Elfyn Evans – 78 points
5- Teemu Suninen – 62 points
6- Kris Meeke – 60 points
7- Andreas Mikkelsen – 56 points
8- Dani Sordo – 52 points
9- Esapekka Lappi – 40 points
10- Jari-Matti Latvala – 40 points
*Subject to publication of the standings by the FIA

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1- Hyundai WRT – 242 points
2- Toyota Gazoo Racing – 198 points
3- Citroën Total WRT – 170 points
4- M-Sport Ford WRT – 152 points
* Subject to publication of the standings by the FIA

KEVIN HANSEN TAKES UNFORGETTABLE MAIDEN WORLD RX WIN IN ABU DHABI

Abu Dhabi, 06 April 2019 – Team Hansen MJP experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in Abu Dhabi during an emotional opening round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Kevin Hansen scored his first ever WRX victory in spectacular style, with victory in qualifying and his semi-final in addition to his final win, while Timmy Hansen’s weekend was cruelly curtailed early on by an enormous shunt which destroyed his car’s rollcage.

Both Timmy and Kevin had started the World RX of Abu Dhabi in brilliant fashion, finishing 1-2 in Q1. Timmy took the top spot once again in Q2 but his weekend ended shortly afterwards, being on the receiving end of a heavy shunt with Andreas Bakkerud. Crossing the start/finish line to begin the final lap, Timmy had just rejoined the track from taking his joker lap and was hit side-on by Bakkerud, who was disqualified for his part in the collision. A heroic effort from Timmy meant he nursed the car to seventh place in Q3 but rollcage damage to his Peugeot 208 WRX was too extensive to compete in Q4 or the semi-finals.

The whole team was understandably shaken by Timmy’s huge accident but regrouped around Kevin, who showed incredible resilience to press on and win both Q3 and Q4. With Timmy looking on from the spotters’ position in the Abu Dhabi grandstands, Kevin then scored a semi-final victory put him on pole for the final.

Kevin led most of the final, until being spun out at the hairpin by Niclas Grönholm in the latter half of the fourth lap. Grönholm was then given a three second penalty post-race for pushing and overtaking, restoring the lead which Kevin had held for much of the final to seal his first ever WRX win, and provide Team Hansen MJP a happy ending for a rollercoaster first weekend as a privateer team.

WORLD RX OF ABU DHABI RESULTS

DNF – Timmy Hansen

Qualifying 1   –  1st
Qualifying 2   –  1st
Qualifying 3   –  7th
Qualifying 4
Semi-Final
Final

1st – Kevin Hansen

Qualifying 1   –  2nd
Qualifying 2   –  6th
Qualifying 3   –  1st
Qualifying 4   –  1st
Semi-Final   –  1st
Final   –  1st

TALKING POINTS

Having come into the opening round with so many question marks as to the relative pace, Team Hansen now knows that it can run in the front, having won all the sessions it participated in: a promising start to the season!

The brand-new Abu Dhabi track proved to be an excellent rallycross venue, with plenty of exhilarating drama captivating the fans.

The competitive order around Team Hansen has shifted somewhat: GRX Taneco was Hansen’s closest rival in Abu Dhabi, scoring one point more for the teams’ championship in part due to Timmy’s absence from Q4 and the subsequent finals.

The big number

30

The number of points Kevin Hansen scored at Abu Dhabi by winning the Final, his Semi Final and also being Top Qualifier, the maximum possible from a single FIA World RX round.

TIMMY HANSEN

“I’d describe today as an extremely abrupt end to what had been a perfect weekend. I was fastest in Q1, fastest in Q2 and for what it’s worth I think I would have been fastest in Q3. But then everyone saw what happened: Bakkerud thought it was the last lap, so he went flat out after the joker and basically drove into my driver’s door. It was a massive impact and the roll cage was pushed in towards my left leg, but I am OK, just a bit of bruising. It makes you realise how tough these cars are. Then, once I was out, Kevin saved my day. I was supporting him from the spotters’ tower: cheering him on and helping as much as I could. I’m incredibly proud of him, so a day of very mixed emotions. Mostly, I’m just really happy for him.”

KEVIN HANSEN

“I think this was the craziest weekend of my career…so many emotions! Straight away we could see that we had good pace and that we were in the fight; then we had Timmy’s crash, which was a big low, then I had to focus on the semi-final and final, where we finished second. I was leading with a good margin over Niclas until the corner where he passed me: I felt a hit at the rear and I nearly spun. Straight away I thought it should be a penalty, but when it is with the stewards you never know how it will work out…and then after about an hour, I found out I had won; my first win! Of course you never want to win in the stewards’ room but in the end it wasn’t about that: it was all about the pace that we had right from the start of the weekend, which is a great sign for the future. Now we come away with 30 points, which is the best way to start the season.”

THE BOSS – KENNETH HANSEN

To come here and achieve what we did, as a private team again with so many question marks before the start of the season, is an amazing achievement and I’m so proud of everyone in the team. Now we know that we’re on the pace, which we could see from the very first session. But then I think nobody could have predicted what happened next, with the big crash for Timmy and then such a dramatic final for Kevin. In the end, he completely deserves this victory and I’m so happy for him. The damage to Timmy’s car was very bad, but now that we’ve had a chance to look at it, it’s definitely fixable, so we should see him out in the same car for Barcelona. Abu Dhabi certainly provided us with a start to the season that we’ll always remember!

NEXT ROUND: 
WORLD RX OF CATALUNYA

Round Two of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will be held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which had previously been the season opener for the past two years. It’s a circuit that Kevin Hansen knows particularly well, securing the FIA European Rallycross Championship title here in 2016 with a round victory. Elder brother Timmy is definitely no slouch around here either, with two podium finishes in WRX to his name. Can he make it three this year? We’ll find out in three weeks time, as the WRX world tour rolls on to Barcelona in just three weeks time, kicking off on April 27.