Spa-Francorchamps, 12 May 2019 – A challenging first visit to Spa-Francorchamps for the World RX of Belgium gave mixed emotions for Team Hansen MJP. While Kevin Hansen missed out on a berth in the Final by less than a tenth of a second – colliding with Liam Doran mid-air while crossing the finish line – Timmy turned in a brillaint recovery drive in his Semi Final to make the Final and finish fourth overall.
A repeat of Barcelona, where a Hansen car topped every session on the way to a one-two finish in the Final, was always unlikely to be reproduced, though Timmy and Kevin’s pace was still very much on show. Timmy won his heat in Q1 but ultimately was only sixth quickest, while Kevin bogged down off the line and finished 10th. It was then 8th and 10th for Kevin and Timmy respectively in Q2, as trademark Ardennes rainfall made conditions very tricky.
Both Kevin and Timmy ended up in the same heat for Q3, with Kevin showing some great speed after a slow launch to go second fastest, even passing Timmy at the end of the second lap. Meanwhile, Timmy had spent the early part of Q3 in an intense battle with eventual Final winner Timur Timerzyanov, falling to fifth place after taking his Joker and going 10th fastest.
A brillaint Q4 performance from Timmy helped him rebound, going fastest to jump to fourth in the combined qualifying standings, while Kevin earned a second row slot for the first Semi Final by placing seventh in the aggregate qualifying standings.
Kevin started fourth in his Semi Final and was immediately battling Liam Doran, who took an early joker lap. Kevin’s strategy was the opposite, pulling off on the very last lap and coming out of the joker side-by-side with the Audi. With the two on different lines they collided in mid-air, Doran beating Kevin to third place by the narrowest of margins and pitching Kevin into the wall.
Timmy had started his Semi Final from second but was pushed wide into the wall at turn one by Janis Baumanis, dropping to fifth and forcing Timmy to do what he does best: mount an epic comeback. He passed Anton Marklund and Cyril Raymond when they took their jokers on consecutive laps, followed later by Baumanis, then turned in the fastest lap of the race to ensure he came out ahead of the Renaults and book a place in the Final.
Fourth place was Timmy’s reward in the Final, passing Doran after he crashed at the Raidillon hairpin and then taking Baumanis for fourth down the inside of the long final left hander on the penultimate lap. Though not able to finish on the podium, Timmy jumped from third to second in the World RX drivers’ championship, nine points behind Kevin who still leads. And while Team Hansen MJP was outscored by its main rival, it still leads the teams’ championship by one point, keeping them atop both championships after three rounds.
SPA WORLD RX OF BELGIUM RESULTS
4th – Timmy Hansen
Qualifying 1 – 6st
Qualifying 2 – 10st
Qualifying 3 – 10th
Qualifying 4 – 1st
Semi-Final – 3rd
Final – 4th
7th – Kevin Hansen
Qualifying 1 – 10th
Qualifying 2 – 8th
Qualifying 3 – 2nd
Qualifying 4 – 8th
Semi-Final – 4th
Team Hansen MJP might not have got the result it wanted at Spa-Francorchamps but the brand new RX track has become an instant favourite for drivers and fans alike.
Though a podium in the Final eluded both Kevin and Timmy, they’re now one-two in the drivers’ championship after Spa-Francorchamps!
While the team’s closest rival scored a 1-3 finish in Belgium, thanks to strong performances in Abu Dhabi and Barcelona Team Hansen MJP is still atop the teams’ standings.
The big number
The margin of victory for Timmy Hansen in his dominant Qualifying 4 performance, with his 2m14.772s also the fastest qualifying time of the entire weekend.
“It was a tough race in Belgium, but I think we’ve caught up now after my accident on the first round of the season, as we’re up to second in the drivers’ championship. Our potential was really good all weekend – as we saw in Q4, which was the only opportunity I had to drive in clear air – but we didn’t completely maximise on it. But that can happen in rallycross sometimes; after the high of Spain, where we had a perfect weekend, it’s back to the real world now! The overall feeling is still great: we know that we’ve got the pace and a really quick car so we just need to make sure we take every opportunity. Finally, I’d like to congratulate Timur for his first win: it’s really deserved and I’m very happy for him.”
“The highlight of my weekend was definitely Q3, which was our strongest session. We had two really fast laps at the end, which I’m going to take away as a fantastic experience. Apart from that it wasn’t an especially good round for us: we didn’t quite have the performance and we made some small mistakes as well, especially with the tyre choice on Saturday. There were times perhaps where we should have been a bit braver, but it’s very easy to be wise after the event. In the end, I’ve kept the lead of the drivers’ championship so it was a good damage limitation exercise. We just need to learn from this now and try to make sure that we don’t create more situations where we are running in the pack and a bit vulnerable. Like they say, you make your own luck!”
THE BOSS – KENNETH HANSEN
“On a weekend that wasn’t especially strong for us, we still took away some good points and that’s the most positive thing about this weekend. We made some wrong decisions with tyre choice on Saturday, which meant that we had a lot of catching up to do on Sunday, and we also had a couple of bits of bad luck. But if you think that we were 10th and 11th on Saturday night, to end up where we did is quite good. And of course Kevin and Timmy are first and second in the drivers’ championship now, which is great. The track was a proper rallycross course: very challenging, and the organisers have a really positive attitude; there are already some things that they are learning for next year. I think that Spa is here to stay!”
WORLD RX OF GREAT BRITAIN
The fourth stop on the FIA World Rallycross Championship tour is Great Britain, which takes centre stage at Silverstone’s SpeedMachine festival on May 25-26.
Making its debut on the calendar last year as a replacement for Lydden Hill, it’s an almost entirely flat circuit, bar a large jump early in the lap acting as the track’s centrepiece. That’s no surprise when you consider Silverstone was an airfield before being repurposed as a race track!
But it’s a good track for Team Hansen MJP, as Timmy holds the lap record and Sébastien Loeb scored a podium here last year.