Kevin Hansen beats the champions for first victory of 2021 in captivating Catalunya curtain-raiser

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Kevin Hansen beat the world’s best in Barcelona today, as the 2021 World Rallycross Championship got underway in spectacular style in Spain with sensational racing across the board and a breathtaking battle for World RX honours.

Hansen was already a winner in the series arriving at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but his previous success – in Abu Dhabi in 2019 – came as a result of a penalty for the on-track winner. This time, the Swede triumphed entirely on merit after a pulsating performance for the family-run Hansen World RX Team.

For the majority of the weekend, Hansen closely shadowed elder brother Timmy as the two Peugeot 208s topped the intermediate classification at World RX of Catalunya. Behind them, however, a threat was lurking – a threat in the shape of three-time world champion Johan Kristofferson.

Entering the season as the defending title-holder, the KYB EKS JC ace was left on the back foot yesterday as a Q1 disqualification – after his data-logger was found not to have been connected – left him down in an uncharacteristic 15th position.

Proving just why he is the most crowned competitor in World Championship history, however, the Swede went on to win all three subsequent qualifiers to haul himself up to sixth place after Q4 – and back in the hunt.

Hansen Brothers

That set the scene for a dazzling duel in the second semi-final, as Kristoffersson tried every which way to pass the younger of the Hansen brothers over the last two laps in a phenomenal fight, but the Peugeot driver stuck stubbornly to his guns and refused to yield, setting up an all-Hansen front row for the final following Timmy’s victory in the first semi-final.

After gaining a spot to third at the start, Kristoffersson then deployed an early joker tactic to try to get the undercut on the Hansen duo but found himself covered off by Timmy.

The pair both emerged from the joker behind GRX-SET World RX Team’s Krisztián Szabó, though, and the subsequent delay – allied to a rapid turn-of-speed from Kevin Hansen – enabled the latter to sweep around the outside of his two countrymen on lap four to assume a lead he would not subsequently relinquish.

Showing just how much the result meant to him, the winner fought back tears after exiting his car in parc fermé, while Timmy Hansen withstood the pressure of Kristoffersson all the way to the chequered flag to seal a one-two for the Swedish outfit and get Hansen World RX Team’s season off to the perfect start.

Although Kristofferson was disappointed not to win, the pace he showed throughout the weekend proved that the Audi driver will once again be a force to be reckoned with this year, while Szabó’s fourth-place finish brought some consolation to GRX-SET, after team-mate Niclas Grönholm found himself spat off-track at the beginning of the second semi-final.
René Münnich reached the final for the first time in his World RX career and ultimately wound up fifth for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, but there was less fortune for team-mate Timo Scheider, who was fast and feisty during the qualifying stages and sat third in the intermediate standings only to be squeezed into the barriers on the opening lap of his semi-final.

At the start of his first full season in World RX, meanwhile, Kevin Abbring showed flashes of real form in UNKORRUPTED’s Renault Mégane on his way to sixth.
RX2e De Ridder Leads


Guillaume De Ridder was the dominant force in the all-new FIA RX2e Championship, as the Belgian – three times a top three championship finisher in the series’ RX2 predecessor – won every race he started in Barcelona.

After completing a clean sweep through the qualifiers, De Ridder fended off Jesse Kallio in the first semi-final and then simply drove away from his pursuers in the final, aided by an opening lap tangle that delayed Kallio and took out fellow front-runner Fraser McConnell. Ole Henry Steinsholt secured the runner-up spoils, with Patrick O’Donovan an elated third from the back of the grid, just ahead of local hero Pablo Suárez.


Yury Belevskiy picked up from where he left off in Barcelona nine months ago, as he took the opening honours in the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s RX3 category. Last year’s highest scorer registered maximum points from the weekend to get his title bid off to the perfect start, but he was pushed hard by hugely impressive newcomer Kobe Pauwels in another Volland Racing Audi A1, as the Belgian excelled on his international debut in top-flight rallycross.

Pauwels found himself out-of-luck in the final, however, after a first corner tag sent him sideways and dropped him to the tail of the field. Timur Shigabutdinov gratefully picked up second place having battled back from an accident on the first day, with Zsolt Szíjj ‘Jolly’ rounding out the rostrum in third – by some margin the finest result of the Hungarian’s career – following a penalty for Marat Knyazev for the early contact with Pauwels.

The 2021 FIA World Rallycross Championship campaign next moves on to the iconic Höljes circuit for World RX of Sweden on 20-22 August, which will feature a bumper bill of action with all four series – World RX, RX2e, Euro RX3 and the seasonal debut of Euro RX1.

Guillaume De Ridder


  1. Kevin HANSEN (SWE) Hansen World RX Team 6 laps
  2. Timmy HANSEN (SWE) Hansen World RX Team + 1.141s
  4. Krisztián SZABÓ (HUN) GRX-SET World RX Team + 3.499s
  5. René MÜNNICH (DEU) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport + 7.259s
  6. Kevin ABBRING (NLD) Unkorrupted + 9.782s