What’s your favorite rally car and why? In the latest in our series, we ask two of rallycross’s leading figures about the car that fuelled the passion, what made it so memorable and why it deserves the recognition it got (or not!)
There’s a saying in motorsport which is far too often bandied about which goes ‘statistics don’t tell the whole story’. While occasionally that quote holds some validity, it is most certainly not the case for the latest personality in our favorite car feature series.
He may not have been handed a snappy nickname like “Mr Rallycross” or “Hollywood” but that’s simply because he didn’t need one. Such was his dominance of the European rallycross for the best part of 15 years. In total, Kenneth Hansen won 14 titles and has since created a dynasty which was added to by sons Kevin (two Junior RX crowns, a European Rallycross title, TitansRX as well as Nitro RX enough for you?) and Timmy (World RX Champion in 2019).
Kenneth’s style was smooth, his pace rapid and his execution of task devastatingly effective. As is often the case with our guests, picking one car as his favorite was a step too far!
So, what he has done – with the help of Kevin – is settle on the brand and model which gave the Hansen family their longest winning streak, the Citroën Xsara in its iconic red-and-white colors.
What springs to mind when you think of the Citroën Xsara WRC?
Hansen Sr: “We never actually drove a proper WRC car, I tested some of the cars, but we never used [an authentic] one in rallycross. We rebuilt one of the kit car versions of the Xsara, it had a damaged chassis, so we made a rallycross car out of that.
“We used the uprights and some wishbones and things like that, but it was quite different overall to the rally car.
“We had the opportunity to sit down with the designer of the car and I was able to ask a lot of questions about the car itself and get feedback on what to do with the car, so that helped us a lot to develop and understand the car.”
Kevin: “What springs to mind for me about this car is really how low it is, how perfectly shaped it is. The length and width of it just seems to be really perfectly matched and balanced. The car was so dominant so that stands out for me. The strong red colors and the success in the WRC and in rallycross was incredible.”
What is it you appreciate the most about the car?
Hansen Sr: “When we first chose to go with Citroën, I remember Jean-Luc Pailler was driving the Citroën BX turbo, which was quite a big car. And I was looking more into the size of the car, which is why I chose the ZX. When it moved to the Xsara, that was the correct size for me, because it was the best basis from which we could build a rallycross car.
“The Xsara was also a beautiful car so it worked both ways, it fit so well. The white wings and the rear spoiler were really nice. Jean-Luc’s BX, it is difficult to say that it looked good, but it was fast, and he was winning, and it definitely looked aggressive. But it was never really nice!
Kevin: “The contours of the car are incredible. It looks aggressive and the shape is really amazing. It has an old school touch to it with the headlights and the rear lights too, and the rear wing especially on the WRC car and my father’s car, that was so nice.”
What’s your lasting memory of the Citroën Xsara WRC?
Hansen Sr: “Being able to work as close as I did with the Citroën engineers. After a while, we switched from the ZX engine, which had been the specification used on the Dakar cars, to the WRC engine. It wasn’t the complete engine, but we used the block and the engine head and so on.
“We were very close with the engineers at the time and it was incredible to be able to work with them, to test things out on the car, make it faster and help develop the car as well. It was a real collaborative effort.
Kevin: “I don’t remember much of the car when I was small, but I do remember one time I was lying on the floor at home with a screwdriver and screwing a tire into this toy version of the car.”