World Champion rallycross outfit Team Hansen has had plenty of success in the United States over the years – most notably at action sports events X Games and the Nitro World Games where it has notched up multiple wins.
Team founder and boss Kenneth Hansen has detailed his team’s experience Stateside in a dedicated chapter in the new book Fourteen by rallycross journalist Hal Ridge.
The outfit first traveled to the US in 2010 to compete in the discipline’s first professional races in the country, with then-rising star Liam Doran competing for the team in three races in New Jersey.
“The first time we went to race in America it was an adventure,” Hansen says in the book.
“I was nervous to go there really, we didn’t know anything about it, but we knew we were quite good at rallycross so that made the feeling a little bit better. But apart from that we really didn’t know what to expect.”
Doran claimed two third places during those early US races, and would later go on to claim an X Games gold medal in the Rally Car event a year later.
In 2012 Hansen ran Sébastien Loeb to a dominant X Games rallycross win, but with the advent of the World Rallycross Championship two years later, the Hansen team wouldn’t return to the US until 2018 when it took part in the inaugural Nitro Rallycross event at the Nitro World Games in Utah.
“I went to Utah for a while before the race to look at the track and try and advise the guys there with my experience, what they wanted was totally different to the rallycross tracks we have in Europe,” he said.
After initial reservations about the Utah track’s famous gap jump, the team worked out how to implement a speed limiter for the jump – as other teams had – which allowed them to go on and win the event with Timmy Hansen.
“We changed the car and I did the jump in the morning practice the next day, and I made it, I overcame the fears,” he recounts in Fourteen. “That was the big story for us during the weekend, if we hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have done the race.”
A year later, at the 2019 Nitro World Games, the Hansen family once again tasted success, this time with Kevin Hansen winning after advancing directly to the final after a stellar qualifying performance, then putting in what he describes in the book as “the best six laps of my career”.
“I was so happy and I knew I had to make it perfect to take the win,” he said. “It was the first time really that I was nervous about whether I would be at the level I know I can be after not driving all day. I’ve never pushed that hard and I’ve never done such good laps.
“Only Cabot Bigham and I hadn’t raced at the track before, I was the youngest in the field and it was amazing to win what was in my opinion the biggest single race of the year.”
The 2019 edition of Nitro Rallycross wasn’t just an on-track challenge for the Hansens; it also presented significant logistical hurdles too.
In the four weeks between World RX’s rounds in Canada and France, the team had to ship the cars from Canada to the US for Nitro RX, then to France, all while keeping them in race-winning shape. On top of that, both Timmy and Kevin Hansen raced at the TitansRX event in Portugal the week before, adding up yet more frequent flyer miles.
“The first challenge was quite a big one, that was the logistics to go to Nitro with the cars we were racing in the World Championship; to deal with the customs going from Canada to the US, then to fly them home after,” Kenneth Hansen said of the team’s 2019 US effort.
“We were also a little worried about crashes, because of the very limited time, but it worked out quite well.”
Back-to-back wins for the Hansens, along with podiums for Mattias Ekström and Patrik Sandell in 2018 and ‘19 respectively led to event founder Travis Pastrana declaring that Swedes would be banned from future events. Thankfully, he was only joking.