Motorsport has gone from one extreme to the other. COVID-19 has played chaos with calendars this year, causing cancelations galore but also shifting up events that would have taken place over several months into a window of several weeks.
With motorsport suddenly roaring back into life, drivers and team members are on track more frequently than ever before. And that’s leading to some unusual schedules.
World Rallycross Championship frontrunner Kevin Hansen is currently in the middle of one of the busiest rallycross itineraries, taking in three events in as many weeks. All of them are double-headers.
Hansen’s racing season finally started last month at the World RX season opener in his native Sweden, followed a week later by the championship’s return to Finland for the first time since 2014. Now he’s off to Denmark for the RallyX Nordic season finale, where he’s got two jobs: driving for the family LifeLive Nordic team in the CrossCar category, while also overseeing the YellowSquad team in Supercar Lites for which he’s team principal.
But it’s also something he’s used to after a busy 2019, where Hansen (and reigning World RX Champion brother Timmy) split their time between World RX, TitansRX and Nitro RX.
“Last year we had a lot of races, a lot of double-headers, a lot of racing weekends that led into another one straight away, and when it happens over a long period, it takes a lot of energy to travel,” Hansen told DirtFish.
“That’s something I think people forget: travel is the most demanding part. Doing the races is very easy because you focus for a few minutes and then you can relax in between them. You’re very much in the moment when you’re racing.
“If I had an option to drive more I would, but I’d try to avoid having too much back-to-back travel when doing that.”
This weekend’s action is “fun and relaxed” for Hansen as he’s not targeting silverware in RallyX Nordic. Instead, he’s focusing on the continued development of the LifeLive TN5 buggy which his brother and Thierry Neuville drove at RallyX Nordic’s Magic Weekend event at the beginning of July.
It’s the opposite for YellowSquad’s main driver Henrik Krogstad, whose season is about to come to a close after only three race weekends. He’s leading a very tight battle for Supercar Lites honors and is also in a great position to scoop the RX2 title, which will be decided entirely on the results at Nysum this weekend.
In preparation, YellowSquad had a test at Nysum last Thursday, which Hansen was also present at in his usual role. That meant while the teams and most of the drivers headed from Finland to Sweden, it was off to Denmark first for Hansen. While his training regimen meant he was physically in top shape throughout, balancing driving and management has been a bit tougher.
“After the first two rounds [of World RX at Höljes], I felt nothing at all, which was a good sign. It showed I was well prepared for this season. A double-header with plenty of build-up was no problem.
“After Finland I felt a bit more tired as we were traveling a lot, helping the team to prepare the cars between the races. So the last two weeks have been tough and I’m a little tired now, but I don’t feel worn out or even close to that. The mind will need some rest after this but my body is still feeling 100%.”
In terms of attitude, the World RX paddock has always been more like Formula Ford than Formula 1, and with the era of factory teams over, the drivers tend to get stuck in outside of the cockpit. Rokas Baciuška, for example, donned an engineer’s armband at Kouvola, working on the GCK Unkorrupted Renault Clio he’d been driving the week before after Kevin Abbring had taken over driving duties.
Though Hansen’s not been spannering the team’s cars like Baciuška, he’s been getting hands-on in other ways; applying the vinyl wraps to his own Peugeot 208 and the team truck, and also regularly builds up and dismantles the team kit at each race weekend. The only rest day he’s had up until a brief stop-off at home yesterday was on the ferry to and from Finland.
But would he have it any other way? Of course not.
“To drive race cars is something I am very fortunate to do. It’s a lot of hard work to do it but I’m also very fortunate to have the opportunity as well. So if I’m asked to drive a car or have the opportunity to do that, I never say no.”