Reigning World Rallycross Champion Timmy Hansen has explained the “double challenge” Hyundai World Rally Championship factory driver Thierry Neuville is facing in his guest appearance in a CrossCar at RallyX Nordic’s Magic Weekend.
Neuville is competing in the FIA-backed CrossCar discipline as part of a push by his family’s LifeLive company – managed by younger brother Yannick – to expand into the Nordic region with its TN5 buggy.
LifeLive has partnered with World RX teams’ champions Hansen Motorsport to facilitate that expansion, with both sides involved with running the LifeLive Nordic entry.
As part of the partnership, Neuville and Hansen are running as team-mates on track this week.
Hansen was keen to stress that Neuville was doing more than driving at Magic Weekend by getting hands-on with the buggies, as the team optimizes its CrossCar for more competitive championships outside the domestic Belgian series.
“I think he has a double challenge because he’s also building the car and the chassis,” said Hansen.
“Inside the team he’s everywhere around and he’s changing the set-ups himself.
“Me and [Thierry] discuss together the feeling of the car, and he’s super involved in the project, so he has more challenges than just learning the rallycross track here, which is very difficult. He’s also having to adapt the car.
“He has taken on a lot but he definitely enjoys it. He doesn’t need to be here, he wants to be here and you can tell he’s having a good time – and so am I – so we’re having fun working together.”
While Neuville and Hansen struggled for pace in the earlier races on Thursday, both drivers made a big leap in pace during Q3, with Neuville setting the fourth-fastest time and securing a slot in the semifinals.
Fourth place in his semifinal meant he fell short of making the XC final, though Neuville punctuated a strong debut at Höljes with a mid-air overtake on Jimmy Kujanpää over the Turn 3 jump.
Hansen’s XC debut came to an end after qualifying, falling short of a top-18 progression spot to the round-one semifinals.
“I have some work to do, I need to find some more speed, adapt a little bit to these cars,” said Hansen.
“The young guys here are super fast, so I need to be on my toes.
“I’m here to have a good time, I’m here to have some good racing and to continue learning as a driver and growing in different areas.
“This is just the challenge that I wanted to have; it [the challenge] is bigger than I thought but it’s what I came here for.”
Neuville and Hansen are in action again in the second XC round, which will take place across Saturday and Sunday.