Kevin Hansen claimed his first on-the-road World Rallycross Championship victory in the 2021 season opener at Barcelona, defeating team-mate and brother Timmy Hansen and Johan Kristoffersson.
The Swede’s only previous victory came in Abu Dhabi in 2019, but was the result of a post-race penalty for Niclas Grönholm.
Hansen began the six-lap final on the front row of the grid aside his brother Timmy as a result of them splitting the semifinal wins, and it was the latter who led from pole in the early stages of the race, with Kevin serving as a rear gunner to the 2019 champion as the pair faced pressure from Johan Kristoffersson.
Kristoffersson had dominated qualifying, but a Q1 exclusion for an unconnected data logger left him out of position for much of the weekend.
After having a windshield full of Peugeot 208 for the first lap and a half, he opted for an early joker in a bid to overhaul the Hansens. The strategy didn’t pay off, however, with Timmy taking the longer route a lap later and maintaining position.
With those jokers out of the way, both drivers found themselves stuck behind Krisztián Szabó who had not yet served his. Out in front, Kevin Hansen had clear air and made the most of it.
When it was his turn to joker on lap four, he emerged level with his brother, but carried the momentum through the sweeping left hander to maintain the lead.
With two laps to go the lead trio were covered by just a second, and with the Hansen brother’s roles now somewhat reversed, Kevin was able to pull out a gap while Timmy had to resist the charging Kristoffersson.
At the line, Kevin Hansen beat Timmy by 1.1s, with Kristoffersson a further 1.3s back. Szabó, who’s late joker arguably aided Kevin Hansen’s victory push, finished fourth, ahead of René Münnich and Kevin Abbring.
Ahead of the final, third-placed qualifier Timo Scheider fell by the wayside in the first semifinal, while RallyX Nordic title challenger Grönholm crashed out of the second after a strong start.
Another fast starter in that race, Oliver Bennett (pictured above), also failed to advance, not having the pace to maintain a top three spot. In getting to the semifinals for just the fourth time in his World RX career, Bennett was able to claim a career-best finish with eighth.
In RX2e, the new main support category in place of the combustion-engined RX2, Guillaume De Ridder made history by winning the first ever round of the all-electric series.
After winning the category’s first race in Q1 on Friday, former World RX competitor De Ridder swept the board in qualifying before going on to win the first semifinal, Fraser McConnell winning the other.
In the final, McConnell made the most of fresh tires to make the best start, but he was soon shuffled back into the pack and by Turn 2 was sent into the concrete retaining wall by an early braking Ole-Henry Steinsholt, ending his race. Jesse Kallio was also involved in the incident, being collected by a sliding McConnell. That ended Kallio’s hopes of victory, although he was able to finish the race.
De Ridder was largely unchallenged in his charge to the win, with Steinsholt and Patrick O’Donovan rounding out the podium
In Euro RX3, formerly Super 1600, Yuri Belevskiy resisted a late charge from Timur Shigabutdinov to win, with Marat Knyazev a distant third after making contact with Kobe Pauwels at the first corner.