In only the first ever event for the brand new Peugeot 208 WRX,Team Peugeot-Hansen set a fantastic pace straight out of the box at round one of the new FIA World Rallycross Championship at Montalegre in Portugal this weekend (May 3 - 4).
Despite minimal pre-event testing, team drivers Timur Timerzyanov and Timmy Hansen were fast from the very first open practice session on Saturday afternoon, before putting in strong performances throughout the qualification heats. Timerzyanov headed the order at the end of day one, winning both of his races and setting two fastest heat times against competitors who had a winter of testing under their belts. The double European champion maintained his pace on day two, to qualify top at the Intermediate Classification and earn the maximum 16 championship points in the process. Team-mate Hansen was fast too. The young Swede being third on the grid for semi-final two, with Timerzyanov on pole position in semi-final one.
Both drivers were going fast in the semi-final stages, only situations out of the teams control forcing both to miss the first final of the season. Hansen set fastest lap of the weekend in his semi-final race before being slowed by an electrical failure, while Timerzyanov was forced wide by another driver, pushing him down to fourth position and missing out on the final by one place, the same fate that befell Hansen. However, the result couldn’t distract from the great performance of the new Peugeots on their debut.
“We have brought this project together in such a short time, being on the pace, we are is a victory in itself,” said team principle Kenneth Hansen. “I’m very satisfied with the cars and the drivers. We can take a huge amount of encouragement from this weekend.”
Reigning FIA European Rallycross Champion Timerzyanov was happy with the new 208, but was disappointed not to be able to score more points in the new Team Championship. “We have a good tool in the Peugeot 208 to work with in the World RX,” said the Russian driver. “We came here with brand new cars and we are already at a very good level. The semi-final was disappointing, I always try to be good on track, but sometimes the others are not. I had hoped we could have scored more points for the Team Championship for Peugeot, Total and Red Bull, but overall the weekend has been very strong for us.”
Former single-seater racer Timmy Hansen finished third in the European Championship last season and is excited by the drivability of the new 208 WRX. “It’s been a really good weekend for the whole team,” said Hansen. “We have created a great chassis together with Peugeot, it makes the car very easy to drive, I can place it where I want to go and it does exactly what I want it to do. I’m so excited for the rest of the season now. After a long winter it feels so good to have done a race and performed like we have, the speed is there!”
Next round: Lydden Hill, Great Britain, 25 of MayCHAMPIONSHIP OVERALL
1 P. Solberg, 29 pts - 2- R. Nitiss, 24 pts, 3- T. Heikkinen, 21 pts - 4- A. Bakkerud, 20 pts -5- T. Timerzyanov, 19 pts - 6- A. Marklund, 18 pts - 7- T. Hansen, 14 pts etc