Legend Sébastien Loeb may be used to snow from events like Rally Sweden – but he certainly wasn’t expecting it in rallycross! Nonetheless, the Team Peugeot Total driver showcased all his talent to take his 208 WRX to a 2nd consecutive runner-up spot on round 2 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. The race was in the mountains of Montalegre, Portugal. The altitude certainly provided a tough test for the race car as well as its drivers, but all 3 drivers once more showed their sparkling potential on an event that everyone will remember.
Sébastien Loeb got off to a flying start in Portugal by winning Q1 and finishing 2nd in Q2
While he felt a bit less confident in the wet and slippery conditions of Q3 and Q4 on Sunday morning, he comfortably went through to the semi-final with the 600-horsepower 208 WRX. The Frenchman finished 2nd in the semi, which earned him a place in the final, held just as the snow started to fall hard. After an intense sideways battle around the spectacular Montalegre circuit, Loeb finished 2nd overall in the final: the same result that he achieved in Barcelona, to boost his position in the championship rankings.
“I had a really good feeling with the 208 WRX from the beginning. In the dry, the car was easy to handle, and I felt very confident: I could concentrate on the lap time rather than what I was doing with the car itself. The Q1 and Q2 sessions were good but in Q3 the conditions were different, and I was struggling a bit more to find the line. Luckily in the semi-final, the conditions were dry again, then the final was run in amazing conditions. It was a good fight all weekend and I really enjoyed it; it’s not normal to see snow! The battle is so close between everyone, but we are right up there too. You have to do everything perfectly if you want to have a good weekend in rallycross. It’s not always easy but very satisfying when it happens”, Loeb explained.
— Jean-Philippe Imparato (@JPImparato) May 1, 2018
Timmy Hansen was the only person to beat Loeb in a rrace on Saturday
He won Q2 in front of his illustrious teammate to lie 2nd overnight in the overall points rankings. He too easily qualified for the semi-finals, and the news got even better for the Swede on Sunday afternoon when he won his semi-final, again in front of Loeb. Hansen was set for a strong finish in the snowy final but unfortunately hit the guardrail and spun while pushing hard for the win, dropping him to the back of the order. There were no prizes in the final for him, but plenty of points from the weekend.
“In the final, I was going well but [Johann] Kristoffersson was faster, and I made a mistake when I was trying to keep up. The weather changed for the final and we didn’t have time to adapt the car to the slippery conditions: we still had the set up from the dry run before. So, I think that was part of it, but it was also my mistake. I went too fast into the corner, hit the rail and spun around. That’s racing sometimes, mistakes can happen. At least we had a good weekend, a good qualifying and a win in the semi-final, with very tricky conditions. The pace is there every time we’re on track; there’s no reason to feel negative”, he said.
Kevin Hansen also had a great start in Portugal and seemingly got better and better as conditions became more challenging
He finished 5th and 9th in the wet Q3 and Q4 sessions on Sunday morning. These strong results promoted him to the semi-final but disaster struck when he was caught out by a rival who braked early and went into the back of him, breaking the intercooler on his car. To save the engine from terminal damage, he chose to switch it off, and his promising weekend was sadly over – although a point had been well and truly proved.
“Even though on paper the results look quite similar to the first round in Spain two weeks ago, it’s more positive as we score plenty of points towards both championships. Sébastien Loeb has scored 25 points, which makes him the second-best performer of the weekend behind Kristoffersson, who scores 26. And in the team rankings, we are the joint best performers of the weekend together with Volkswagen. What’s positive is that our cars have shown good pace and good reliability throughout the weekend, with no technical issues. The cars have gone better in the dry than in the wet, but it’s still very encouraging. A solid performance”, Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin commented.
? Overall Standings @FIAWorldRX after Round 2
4️⃣Sébastien LOEB – 39 pts
5️⃣Timmy HANSEN – 36 pts
1️⃣1️⃣Kevin HANSEN – 16 pts
3️⃣Team PEUGEOT Total – 75 pts
?? See you in Belgium in just 2 weeks ! pic.twitter.com/EABDU6OZxo
— Peugeot Sport (@peugeotsport) April 29, 2018