If you were tuning into last weekend’s Nitro Rallycross expecting one of America’s established stars of the sport, like Tanner Foust, Ken Block, or event creator Travis Pastrana, to take the win, chances are you ended the day disappointed.
That’s because, of that group, only Foust even cracked the podium. Instead, it was FIA World Rallycross star Timmy Hansen, driving for the factory Team Peugeot Total squad, who used superior Joker Lap strategy to get past 2016 World RX champion Mattias Ekstrom for the victory.
The Swedish-born Hansen is a member of one of the most prominent families in rallycross. His father, Kenneth, won 14 different FIA European Rallycross titles in multiple classes in his driving career; his younger brother, Kevin, races alongside him and the legendary Sebastian Loeb on Peugeot’s factory squad in World RX. His mother, Susann, also made history in the sport in 1994, becoming the first woman to win a Euro RX title that year in the 1400 Cup class.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Timmy Hansen is one of the world’s foremost racers in the sport where his family has had so much success. After starting out in karts, Hansen actually moved on to open-wheel classes like Formula BMW and multiple Formula Renault 2.0 series before making his rallycross debut at Dreux in France in 2011. The next year, he made his Euro RX debut at Finland’s Kouvola circuit in the same Citroen DS3 Supercar that Loeb drove to X Games Los Angeles gold early in the year, and finished fifth.
That was enough to land Hansen a full-time ride for 2013, and he paid it off by scoring his first major victory in the third race of the season in Hungary. After finishing third in the standings, Hansen joined a majority of the top drivers in moving up to the newly christened World RX series in 2014. With a win and four podiums on the year, he’d claim fourth in that championship.
2015 was Hansen’s best season yet, as he finished second in World RX points with three wins (Norway, France, and Turkey) in a four-race span. He took his sixth career victory in Canada in 2016, but had been winless since then until last weekend’s Nitro Rallycross final. After leading the intermediate standings on Saturday thanks to consistently fast runs, Hansen also won his semifinal race and avoided significant damage in the first-lap carnage that claimed top rival Scott Speed’s chances to win.
By Jokering earlier than leader Ekstrom, Hansen was able to reel his World RX rival in during the final few laps, and easily made the pass when Ekstrom finally took the longer route on the last lap.
For now, though, the focus is on Circuit of the Americas, where Hansen sits sixth in the World RX standings. It may be too late to challenge for the title, thanks to both Johan Kristoffersson’s dominance and a 15-point penalty taken earlier this season, but Hansen is well within reach of second place due to a logjam for the position. Back-to-back wins, even in two completely different events run by different organizations, would go a long way toward that pursuit.
No matter what, though, if you’re watching World RX this weekend after checking out Nitro Rallycross, make sure you follow the blue and silver Peugeot that won last weekend. You can bet for certain that Hansen will make it one hell of a show on Saturday and Sunday.