World Rallycross Champion Timmy Hansen has become the first ever Race Of Champions Virtual Champion of Champions, winning the Esports event which also featured fellow World RX champions Petter Solberg and Johan Kristoffersson.
Hansen was drawn into Group D, which used KTM X-Bows around the Riyadh stadium circuit used in the real-world ROC in 2018.
He won his first heat against WRC3 regular Benito Guerra, who is also the reigning real-world Race of Champions champion, though lost to DTM champion René Rast in his other race.
It was still enough for Hansen to advance to the Legends and Champions semi-final against Solberg, whom he easily defeated around the Gran Canaria off-road circuit used by ROC between 1992 and 2003. Solberg finished 3.5 seconds off Hansen’s pace in the two-lap semi-final, admitting he had been “too careful” on his run.
Hansen then took a last-gasp win in the Legends and Champions final against Rast. Around the Wembley Stadium circuit in ROC Buggies, Rast was too quick on the throttle as the pair rounded the last turn side-by-side and spun out, handing Hansen the win.
Rast had earlier eliminated Kristoffersson in the other semi-final.
NASCAR K&N Pro driver Rubén García Jr then faced off against Hansen in the overall final that took place on Hansen’s favored territory, the Gran Canaria circuit in Supercar Lites machines used in the real-world RX2 and RallyX Nordic series.
García – who had won the Sim Champions side of the draw to face Hansen – ran wide on a medium right which led to Hansen gaining a 1.5s lead he would not relinquish, securing the Virtual Champion of Champions crown.
“I really did have the advantage of home arena in the finals, with it being in rallycross cars,” said Hansen.
“I practiced before the race and just made sure not to make any mistakes and make some clean laps, and it got me all the way here.
“It’s such an honor just to be invited to this race, it’s a big dream of mine, I’ve been watching this race since I was a kid, watching all these great names competing here.
“Obviously I would have liked to be there in person but this year, it is what it is, and I’ll take this [win] any day. This feels amazing.”
That win also earned Hansen the chance to face off against James Baldwin in a pro racers versus Esports pro final – again around Gran Canaria in Supercar Lites – though Baldwin won that final by two seconds.
Hansen also featured heavily in the Virtual Nations Cup contest, which was won by the All Stars team of Baldwin and Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean.
The Sweden and All Stars teams faced off in the Nations Cup final, though Sweden’s Hansen was left to fight for victory on his own as technical issues had befallen Kristoffersson in the semi-finals and forced him to withdraw.
Though Hansen was able to beat Grosjean in their head to head to force an all-or-nothing third race, Baldwin once again outgunned Hansen in both their Nations Cup final races.
Grosjean and Baldwin’s All Stars team had knocked out Norway in their earlier semi-final, the latter team featuring Solberg and his son Oliver.
The elder Solberg was defeated by Baldwin, and while 18-year-old Oliver then defeated Grosjean he could not overcome Baldwin, who won the World’s Fastest Gamer contest last year.