The latest evolution of the Peugeot 208 WRX was introduced at Höljes in Sweden, with the team swapping the known quantity of the previous car for the start of a brand-new learning curve. While the potential was clear to see, circumstances conspired against the French squad in the homeland of the Hansen family. Both Hansen brothers got their Peugeot 208 WRX cars into the final, but the overall result does not tell the full story. Timmy Hansen scored the best result for the team in 4th. But he was running 2nd until the last lap when he was hit and ended up in the gravel trap: an offence for which his assailant was penalised.
Timmy Hansen was rapid in every one of his qualifying heats, holding a top 3 position overall after Q4
He was all set to convert that into a strong finish after he clinched the 2nd position in semi-final 2, but the Swede was taken out in the final run through no fault of his own. Nonetheless, he can take away more positives than negatives from the weekend, having shown the clear potential of the new-specification 208 WRX.
“The guys in the team – engineers, mechanics, and me too – did a great job to adapt to all the changes with the updated Peugeot 208 WRX. We had an epic weekend. I was in 2nd position on the last lap during the final. First of all, Andreas Bakkerud pushed me off line and passed me. And then Mattias Ekström completely pushed me off the track – and I actually dislocated my shoulder in the impact. So I am in a bit of pain. Both in the shoulder and, you know – inside. We still have a lot of potential to discover in all of these updates. So it’s easy to be motivated for what comes next. We will become faster and faster throughout the year. At the next race in Canada we can hopefully fight for the win”, Timmy said.
Kevin Hansen put on a great demonstration of his skill and development throughout the weekend
He delivered consistent performances in qualifying and earned valuable championship points after finishing 2nd in his semi-final. He started the final race side by side with his brother on row 2 but was not able to deliver the desired result due to mechanical issues: after a respectable start, his engine cut out and the car stopped.
“It was a really good weekend. We worked hard to progress throughout the weekend for our first round with the Peugeot 208 WRX in basic 2018 spec. It’s a bit different from the previous car I drove, so it took a while to get used to it with the set-up and everything. Starting from the warm-up, everything has been working better and better throughout the day and I think we progressed a lot both in terms of set-up and driving. And to get into the final once again is really amazing. Unfortunately, we stopped on lap two with a technical problem. It’s a shame but making it to the final in Höljes is really great”, the other Hansen brother commented.
Sebastien Loeb had an unlucky weekend
His 7th position in qualifying reflected the Frenchman’s struggle to find a clean run and the right rhythm with the updated car in a very high level of competition. He finished 4th in semi-final 1, narrowly missing out on going through to the final: less than 4 tenths of a second behind 3rd position.
“I’m not so satisfied with the weekend, I have to say. I had a difficult Q1 and Q2. In Q3, I hit Timur Timerzyanov and broke my suspension, so I finished last in the heat. After Q4, I qualified 7th overall for the semi-finals. With that place, you start on the outside of the 2nd row, which isn’t the best position. So the race started off quite badly for me and didn’t really get any better. Our objective for the championship is to collect points and we didn’t get many. In the overall rankings, Johan Kristofferson is moving further away at the top and that wasn’t the goal either. Overall, the updated 208 WRX feels better than the previous one, but we still need to improve in the future. I think we have some good directions to work in now”, Loeb explained.
Throwback to this @HoljesRX race! I’m so proud that @Timmy_Hansen and @kevinhansen71 had the chance to race on their lands… Now, I can’t wait to be with the #TeamPeugeotTotal in @LoheacRX in september! ? #BornReady pic.twitter.com/pbI76gX6uS
— Jean-Philippe Imparato (@JPImparato) July 3, 2018