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 Team Peugeot Total in 4th, but 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 2nd position in semi-final 2, but the Swede was viciously 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 Peugeot 208 WRX.
Kevin Hansen put on a great demonstration of his skill and development throughout the weekend, delivering consistent performances in qualifying and earning 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.
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.
Team Peugeot Total now stands 3rd in the Teams’ Championship rankings with 233 points: however, 2nd position is only 6 points ahead. In the Drivers’ Championship rankings Sebastien is 4th, Timmy 5th and Kevin 7th. A record crowd of 51,600 people attended the “Magic Weekend”, and the Peugeot squad now has a clear direction to work towards to improve its latest challenger.
Bruno Famin, Peugeot SPORT Director
“The goal was to bring these new evolutions into competition as soon as possible, because although we've racked up nearly the equivalent of an entire season through testing, nothing beats the actual experience of racing. You discover new problems and you use the car in a different way. We knew that, given the level of the championship, it was going to be a big ask, but we wanted to give these technical developments a proper baptism of fire in order to continue to make progress. It’s all about achieving our objectives as rapidly as possible and being able to fight for podiums on every event. It was a complicated start to the weekend: we had to learn and fine-tune the set-up of the car, which is quite different to drive compared to the previous model, and we encountered a few technical problems. Both the drivers and the engineers needed time to find the right set-up. But in the end that happened reasonably quickly, and we could see the progress with the drivers and car with every run: to the extent that we ended up with quite a competitive package by Sunday. If you look at Timmy’s lap times, I reckon he could definitely have aimed for 2nd in the final, had he not been caught up in an incident for which the driver concerned was rightly punished. So although we don't come away from here with a concrete result to be proud of, there’s enough to make us feel genuinely optimistic for the future. Above all, we've shown some very interesting potential, which is exactly what we were after. And we’re not going to back off now!”
Timmy Hansen, Peugeot 208 WRX #21
“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.”
Kevin Hansen, Peugeot 208 WRX #71
“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 this morning, 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 here in Höljes is really great.”
Sébastien Loeb, Peugeot 208 WRX #9
“I'm not so satisfied with the weekend, I have to say. I had a difficult Q1 and Q2. In Q3 this morning, 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 this weekend. In the overall rankings, Johan Kristofferson is moving further away at the top and that wasn't the goal either. Overall, the updated Peugeot 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."