TIMMY HANSEN: LATVIA RX IS A SPECIAL EVENT I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO
Just a couple of days before the start of the Neste World RX of Latvia, we had a small conversation with World RX Title contender Timmy Hansen – the only driver this season who managed has managed more than one (three to be precise) victory in this turbulent season of world rallycross.
First of all, we would like to congratulate you with a very good start of the season. You and your brother have been on the podiums together in World RX, RX Titans and also most recently in Nitro Games. Do you think this season has been the most successful one for you so far?
Yeah absolutely. First of all, because we’re doing well in the World Championship after everything that happened this winter. And on top of that we’re driving more races and doing more things than we’ve ever done before. To be successful in all these different championships is a big challenge. It takes a lot of work. Also, because we are driving as well as working a lot together, taking care of everything. So, yes, it has been the most successful year in my career so far. This is a fantastic season after everything that we’ve been through. It’s way more than we could expect, I think.
Your team announced their entry to the World Championship quite late. Was there any point at which you thought that you won’t be even racing this season?
Oh yeah, absolutely. Many times, during the winter it was looking good, looking bad, even worse, up and down. But luckily, we are four together in the family. There was always someone of us who thought that we can do this. At the very last minute we got everything together. “Total” committed very early, but “Red Bull” and “Papyrus” are our two main sponsors. It happened very late, but they all realized at the end that they wanted to do rallycross. It’s an amazing sport and they wanted to be a part of our team. Thanks to them we got everything together. Now we are up and running. So, it’s been very good to have come this far to do it at all and to have this successful season that we’ve had. It’s been great.
And probably the fact that are fighting with your brother makes it even more special.
Yes, absolutely. Like you said, I’m fighting with him together not against him. It’s like a big adventure this year and we’re all together in the family having a very big success. We are all equally happy if he wins or if I win.
Your relationship with Kevin has probably even grown since you’re both on the top now, right?
Yeah. It’s a special journey to take. We are brothers just like every other brothers out there. We have grown up together, we’ve raced cars when we were young and did karting together. He’s quite younger, but we’ve always had fun and stayed around cars and I guess that’s what we still do. But now at this level in some way we’re still just playing around and having fun.
One of the trends that’s very popular in RX is that sons usually take it over from their parents. Your father Kenneth was also a very successful rallycross driver. He’s probably given you some very useful tips. Which ones of them would be the most useful you would remember?
I don’t think it is anything specific to be honest. I think it’s his way of thinking. We’re still working together. He’s the team manager, so every day and every race we talk together and have discussions. Of course, he did incredibly well in his own career when he was driving. Now he is running the team, so I don’t remember any specific tips that he gave me but it’s a big relationship and it goes on every day.
Since manufacturers have left the sport the competition has become much tighter. Having been on both sides, can you reveal approximately how many people worked in Peugeot team and how many are there now in Hansen MJP?
It is very different now. I was only a driver in the factory team. Now I’m driving plus have a lot more work. Including the family, we are 12 people. Us four plus eight more – five mechanics and three engineers. It’s a very small, small team. Last year after the races we were around 45. Employees worked at the races, but there were more people back in the workshop. I think, in the wintertime, when it was very busy, it was maybe around 100 people, who worked on rallycross. Each person had a specific job and had to do only that one job and be very specialized in it. For me it was to being a driver – to travel to the test drive and give my feedback, drive home and then to the race. Drive as good as I can and so on. In some ways, on the personal side, it was a lot easier, because between all the races I could be free. Now I still need to do all the driver commitments – drive well and train well and prepare well, but on top of that we have no one else to manage the team, so we don’t ask for it outside the family. We have to do everything ourselves, including booking all the trips, taking care of the team and making sure everything works. During the week now we’re really busy just running the team. But I would say I’m happier this year. Even though it’s more work, so it’s more exhausting I’m happier and more engaged. It’s a bigger challenge, but I like this kind of challenge.
So, you also learn many more skills than just driving the track. But speaking of racing, nowadays many young talents are also improving their skills on simulators. Do you have a chance to practice with them?
No, I don’t drive any simulator. I just drive real races. It’s only the second weekend since Barcelona, that I’m home (a weekend before Loheac). It’s been very, very busy. With this amount of driving and testing and going everywhere I don’t see the point in doing simulators, but if I drove less than it may be a good way to compliment your programme and getting some more hours behind the steering wheel.
During the season practice and warm up sessions on race days usually start quite early. Do you have any special routines or superstitions you’re doing before racing to be as fresh and alert as possible?
No. During last four weeks we have had races every weekend. It starts to get quite normal like this. I wake up and I know exactly what to do, when I jump in the car. I need a good breakfast. It’s a key in the morning to eat some breakfast. That gives me energy to be well prepared. It would be quite difficult to drive if we weren’t prepared for the day.
Do you think the Biķernieki circuit in Riga will be suited for your car, so that you can fight for the victory?
Yeah, I think it suits our car very well. And I also think it suits my driving style very well. So, I’m absolutely looking forward to go there. It’s a fun track to drive with all the walls everywhere. We’ve been there quite a lot of times now and I think it gives very good racing. Even though we are in the city, it doesn’t feel like a city circuit. It feels like a good permanent rallycross circuit. It’s a special event. I look forward to going there.
Which do you think are the most difficult sections and which are the most fun sections of the circuit?
I think both the most difficult and fun goes hand-in-hand. The last corners there are very technical. it’s a very tricky corner to get right and to get the correct exit of it. Driving efficient through there is not easy at all. Also, the whole lap goes all the way from corner to corner. It’s a lot of corners compacted into one lap, so it’s way more corners than we have on some other tracks. You never get to rest. It’s always from one corner to some other, and if it’s straight, there is a jump. There is no time to relax.
You said the track is located very close to the city centre. Have you had a chance to explore Riga or some other parts of Latvia?
Yes, only Riga. I have been many times to the Old City and visit some restaurants. Every time I’m there, it’s a nice place to be and there is a good food.