WRX Round #5 – Hell, 09-10.06
A weekend of mixed fortunes for Team PEUGEOT Total on round 5 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, through the twists and turns of Hell in Norway. Two of the PEUGEOT 208 WRX cars went through to the final, with Kevin Hansen finishing as the highest-placed PEUGEOT driver and brilliantly claiming his strongest result yet this season: 4th position overall. The youngest driver in the squad finished just ahead of his brother and team mate Timmy Hansen, who was 5th overall, while Sebastien Loeb was eliminated in the semi-final, bringing his remarkable run of podium finishes to a close.
Kevin Hansen, who goes from strength to strength, continued his learning curve this year by finishing just off the podium (4th) in a tense final. After he made adjustments to improve the set-up of his car together with the PEUGEOT Sport engineers on Friday, he didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend throughout the qualifying heats to progress to the final without any major issues aboard his PEUGEOT 208 WRX. During the semi-final, he was on the front row of the grid alongside his brother, with the duo making the most of a team strategy to capitalise on every opportunity. Kevin’s result now boosts him up in the championship rankings, underlining his status as a champion of the future.
Timmy Hansen ended-up 5th in Norway: a result that doesn’t reflect his speed throughout the weekend. Having been in the top 2 of the intermediate standings, then taking victory in his semi-final heat, he went through to the final once more and scored valuable points despite taking a big hit to the rear at the start. His performance again is a clear indication of the potential of the package: demonstrating a winning combination of high speed and solid driving skills.
Sebastien Loeb’s amazing run of consecutive podiums came to an end when he was eliminated in the semi-final (taking 4th position in semi-final 1), which meant that he had to cheer on his team mates in the final from the side-lines! As a result of an unfortunate team error, he failed to take the joker lap in Qualifying 3 – which is punishable with a heavy 30-second penalty. The Frenchman showed great speed throughout the weekend though and is still 2nd in the drivers’ championship – so there’s everything to play for.
Team PEUGEOT Total now stands 2nd in the Championship rankings, having shown a good team performance throughout adversity during the weekend. While it hasn’t been the easiest weekend for the team, the French squad is determined to learn all the lessons it can. The latest evolutions to the car could be introduced during the next round in Sweden.
Bruno Famin, PEUGEOT SPORT Director
“It was a difficult weekend. The speed was there, but not really in terms of pure performance. We were there, fighting against the fast cars and most experienced teams. At the end of the Sunday, for the first time this year, we missed the podium… but we were not so far off it! We finished 4th and 5th with a very good performance from Kevin. We made a strategic mistake in a qualifying heat with Sebastien, which cost us hugely. As this is rallycross, we paid the cost not once but 3 times. With Seb’s penalty we missed many points in qualifying, then we missed the semi – as he had a bad start position – and then it resulted in no final for him either. Timmy was fast. He won his semi-final but then the start of the final was complicated for him. He lost a lot of time and finished 5th. This is what it is. No problems with the car but we expect to do much better at the next race in Sweden at the end of the month.”
Kevin Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX #71
“It was an amazing day and I think my pace has been really good all weekend. I feel really comfortable with the car and the team and myself. To have yet another good weekend and the pace, it has been amazing. To finish in the final and challenge for the podium is a big step forward. 4th place in the final here in Hell is also the second 4th place of my career, so I am really happy about that. I worked a lot with my head and I feel really comfortable with the team now and I’m really enjoying my driving; I believe in myself a lot. I think I worked really hard after Belgium when I didn’t have such a good weekend and I came back really strong. I can’t wait for my home race now.”
Timmy Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX #21
“In the final I almost had the perfect start, but instead I bogged a little so I had to go back on the clutch and lost some speed. There was some touching: when I turned in behind Johann I was hit from behind and the engine stalled. After a few moments I was able to restart it but, by this point I was out of the race. The weekend felt both good and bad: good because we qualified in and won the semi-final and bad because we are not on the top step of the podium. We really need to continue in joining up all the dots, at every stage of the race. We will refocus, try to do the same job but, make it even nicer when it comes to the chequered flag in the final in Sweden.”
Sébastien Loeb, PEUGEOT 208 WRX #9
“It was a difficult weekend. We’ve ended up scoring 13 points, which isn’t amazing. We lost the most time and points when we didn’t do the joker lap, and that cost us a lot. My spotter just forgot to tell me to go for the joker lap; but if you’re a spotter, this is just the sort of thing that can happen once in your life…maybe! So it shouldn’t happen again. It’s no big deal and we’ll do better next time. The whole team is putting together a very good job. Apart from that, everything went quite well with the car. We had a good pace and although it was difficult to be in the lead, we were part of the leading group, so we’re up there.”
RESULTS OF FINAL RACE IN HELL
1. Johan KRISTOFFERSSON – 03:54.906
2. Mattias EKSTRÖM – 03:55.694
3. Petter SOLBERG – 03:57.422
4. Kevin HANSEN – 03:58.571
5. Timmy HANSEN – 04:04.208
6. Andreas BAKKERUD – 04:06.163
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER ROUND #5/12
1. Johan KRISTOFFERSSON / Volkswagen Polo R – 135 pts
2. Sébastien LOEB / PEUGEOT 208 WRX – 104 pts
3. Petter SOLBERG / Volkswagen Polo R – 102 pts
4. Andreas BAKKERUD / Audi S1 – 101 pts
5. Mattias EKSTRÖM / Audi S1 – 97 pts
6. Timmy HANSEN / PEUGEOT 208 WRX – 94 pts
7. Niclas GRÖNHOLM / Hyundai i20 – 66 pts
8. Kevin HANSEN / PEUGEOT 208 WRX – 61 pts
9. Janis BAUMANIS / Ford Fiesta – 41 pts
10. Robin LARSSON / Ford Fiesta – 40 pts
11. Kevin ERIKSSON / Ford Fiesta – 36 pts
12. Timur TIMERZYANOV / Hyundai i20 – 34 pts
13. Guerlain CHICHERIT / Renault Mégane RS – 31 pts
14. Jérome GROSSET-JANIN / Renault Mégane RS – 28 pts
15. Tommy RUSTAD / Volkswagen Polo R – 13 pts
TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER ROUND #5/12
1. PSRX Volkswagen Sweden – 237 pts
2. Team PEUGEOT Total – 198 pts
3. EKS Audi Sport – 198 pts
4. GRX Taneco – 100 pts
5. Olsbergs MSE – 76 pts
6.GC Kompetition – 59 pts
The next round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, from 30 June to 1 July, will take place in Holjes, Sweden: the homeland of the Hansen family, which forms such an important part of Team PEUGEOT Total. Holjes is located to the west of the country, close to the Norwegian border, and it’s always an incredibly popular stop with an army of passionate fans. The track itself – maybe the most famous rallycross circuit in the world – is made up of 60% asphalt and 40% gravel, measuring 1.21 kilometres in total. The lap record, dating from last year, currently stands at 41.448 seconds.