|Sébastien Loeb claims his first win in the Peugeot 208 WRX|
A drama-packed weekend of FIA World Rallycross Championship action in Latvia saw Sébastien Loeb secure his maiden WRX victory.
Combined with third place for Timmy Hansen, the Frenchman’s performance puts Team Peugeot Hansen well and truly back in the fight for the 2016 Teams’ crown.
The Peugeot 208 WRX drivers hit the ground running in free practice to set the pace in Latvia. Timmy Hansen won the first qualifying heat to emerge as the man to beat early on, before Sébastien Loeb powered his way to the top in Sunday’s appalling conditions which failed to deter the big crowd of spectators.
After winning his semi-final for the first time, Sébastien Loeb went on to take an assertive win in the final, ahead of the championship’s provisional leader and team-mate Timmy Hansen.
Today’s double podium promotes the defending Teams’ champion Team Peugeot Hansen to within just eight points of the top of the provisional standings with two meetings to come in Germany (October 15-16) and Argentina (November 26-27). The Franco-Swedish outfit’s score to date in the campaign stands at two wins and 10 podium places.
Kevin Hansen, who wrapped up the 2016 European Rallycross title* in Barcelona, tackled the final round of the ERX intent on making it five victories from five this season. Unfortunately for the Swedish youngster, the chaotic conditions that reigned during the class’s final prevented him from turning that dream into reality. He was punted off the track, but fought back incisively from last to second place.
2016 Paris Motor Show: Team Peugeot Hansen and the Peugeot Hansen Academy will take advantage of the break between the WRX clashes in Latvia and Germany to attend the Paris Motor Show in France on Wednesday, October 5.
(*) Subject to the publication of the official results by the sport’s governing body.
Kenneth Hansen (Team Principal):
“Our first trip to Latvia was a resounding success. We prepared thoroughly for the occasion with a bespoke test this summer and that work paid off nicely. We were fast all weekend and, even though our drivers reported the odd spin and a few difficulties, it ended supremely with Sébastien’s first WRX victory. Today, he showed how quick he is at adapting and how fast he can be without making any mistakes. He led from the start and shrugged off the pressure to open up a gap at the front. It was a little harder for Timmy but he made it onto the podium. Our aim was to make up 10 or so points in the Team’s standings and we ended up closing the gap by 13 points. I can’t think of a better way to put the pressure on our opponents’ shoulders with two rounds to come.”
Sébastien Loeb (Peugeot 208 WRX #9, Team Peugeot Hansen):
“We had a few delicate moments but it turned out to be a tremendous weekend. Timmy and I effectively collided during Q3 but the speed we have shown since Barcelona enabled us to battle for the win. Today’s rain reminded me of when I used to compete on wet asphalt in rallying. I could feel the movement of my tyres and I had a very good feeling with my car. I am very pleased for my chief mechanic who lives in Latvia, as well as for the entire team. Everyone has worked so hard since the beginning of the season.”
Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208 WRX #21, Team Peugeot Hansen):
“It was something of a dramatic weekend but it ended with Sébastien’s first ever world rallycross victory. It was his day and I am very proud of what he achieved. The PEUGEOT 208 WRX was fast all weekend around what is a highly challenging circuit technically – both in the dry and in the wet. Today’s conditions were extremely difficult, so we can take pride in this result.”
Kevin Hansen (Peugeot 208 WRX #71, Peugeot Hansen Academy):
“The first day went well for me but Sunday in the rain was more difficult. My power steering failed during Q4 which wasn’t ideal just before the semi-final. It was also quite tiring! Indeed, I got away to a poor start and I effectively ended up second. My semi-final was quite chaotic again. In the final, someone pushed me off at Turn 3. I re-joined in last position, so I decided to push hard and I succeeded in picking off the other drivers one by one. I even thought I might find a way past Rustad to win, but I failed by a few tenths of a second. Never mind. That comeback felt almost like a win!”
Davy Jeanney (Peugeot 208 WRX #17, Peugeot Hansen Academy):
“Friday went pretty well for me and I ended the day in seventh spot. The rain changed the conditions, though, and I was no longer in the swing. After Q3, I had a fire extinguisher problem which unfortunately damaged my turbocharger. I was consequently cautious in Q4 to make sure I reached the semi-finals. A small error cost me a place in the final. I had nobody to blame but myself.”
FINAL CLASSIFICATION - RIGA (LATVIA)
1. Sébastien Loeb (Team Peugeot Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX)
2. Mattias Ekström (EKS, Audi S1)
3. Timmy Hansen (Team Peugeot Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX)
4. Andreas Bakkerud (Hoonigan Racing Division, Ford Focus RS),
5. Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen RX Sweden, Volkswagen Polo)
6. Timur Timerzyanov (World RX Team Austria, Ford Fiesta)
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (AFTER 10 ROUNDS)
FIA World Rallycross Championship - Drivers
1. Mattias Ekström (EKS, Audi S1), 228 pts
2. Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen RX Sweden, Volkswagen Polo), 201 pts
3. Petter Solberg (Peter Solberg World RX Team, Citroën DS3), 194 pts
4. Andreas Bakkerud (Hoonigan Racing Division, Ford Focus RS), 192 pts
5. Sébastien Loeb (Team Peugeot Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX), 180 pts
6. Timmy Hansen (Team Peugeot Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX), 165 pts
7. Toomas Heikkinen (EKS, Audi S1), 125 pts
8. Timur Timerzyanov (World RX Team Austria, Ford Fiesta), 101 pts
FIA World Rallycross Championship - Teams
1. EKS, 353 pts
2. Team Peugeot Hansen, 345 pts
3. Volkswagen RX Sweden, 265 pts
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Photo: Peugeot Sport Media