The Canadian round will be an opportunity for Timmy Hansen and Sebastien Loeb to claim the 1st major result for the PEUGEOT 208 WRX EVO, which showed great potential on its competition debut in Sweden.
Sébastien Loeb will be particularly motivated to do well, following 2 races with mixed fortunes in Norway and Sweden, where the circumstances prevented him from reaching the final. His objective will be to do better than the 3rd place he managed in Canada in 2017.
Timmy Hansen won in Canada in 2016, a victory that he described as “one of the most unexpected of my career” (see quote below), which underlined his determination and ability to make the most of any opportunity. This year, along with 9-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb, Timmy is driving the latest-specification PEUGEOT 208 WRX, which was introduced last time out in Sweden - where he demonstrated its great potential.
The young Kevin Hansen will drive for the 2nd time the 2018-specification of the PEUGEOT 208 WRX that Sébastien and Timmy started the season with. All 3 drivers benefited from a test sessionbetween Sweden and Canada: the official IMG test session in Riga for Sébastien and Timmy, and a test in France for Kevin.
The “Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres” actually started off as a circuit race in 1967, inspired by the Monaco Grand Prix, before converting to a WRX event in 2014. The track is well-known for its long straight and interesting joker lap on the inside of the track, with a lengthy asphalt section then followed by the gravel section. In total, the lap consists of 59% asphalt and 41% gravel, with an overall length of 1.351 kilometres: the longest track that the FIA World RX Championship visits. The lap record dates from last year and currently stands at 48.009s, giving an idea of just how quick the average speed is.
Team PEUGEOT Total is currently 3rd in the provisional Teams’ Championship, just 6 points off 2nd place. In the provisional Driver Rankings, Sébastien Loeb is the leading PEUGEOT driver in 4th (48 points off the lead) while his team mates Timmy and Kevin Hansenare 5th and 7th respectively.
QUOTE / UNQUOTE
Kenneth Hansen, Team Peugeot Total Manager
“We’ve just had a very good 3-day test in Riga, with Sebastien and Timmy completing a day and a half each, within the frame of IMG official testing program, while Kevin had a 2-day test in France. The Riga test was really useful as we were able to address a few of the things we learned after Sweden, and it’s always good to have a direct comparison with your competitors on a real world championship track. I think this test definitely represented a step forwards, although you never know until you get to real competition. The start is particularly important in Trois-Rivieres, as you have a very long straight where we can get to more than 200kph: it’s also a race where strategy makes a big difference. We’re really looking forward to arriving now, so that we can see the progress we have made and discover what we can do.”
Sébastien Loeb, Team PEUGEOT Total Driver #9
“Even though Sweden was the very first outing for the PEUGEOT 208 WRX EVO, we still expected something slightly better. It’s not easy, but that’s rallycross! Our test in Riga was good: the car was working well, and I had a good feeling too. We’ve worked very hard on the set-up and the results seem promising. Of course, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions because it was just testing, but in Riga we were in front a lot of the time – and it’s always better to be in front rather than behind! The goal for me in Canada is to confirm that progress and I think we can be in the fight for the win. But we’ve still got some progress to make when it comes to the starts, and that’s actually a key part of the challenge in Canada, which starts off with one of the longest straights of the year. This means that you’ve got to get away well and have good acceleration. Last year, we were a bit lacking in engine power and so we were often behind at the first corner. This year, the race will be a good indication of our performance with the latest technical evolutions, especially when it comes to the engine. But we’ll only have the final verdict at Trois-Rivieres!”
Timmy Hansen, Team PEUGEOT Total driver #21
“The win in Canada 2 years ago was actually my last win – although we’ve come very close since – so there are many happy memories and a big motivation. On that occasion, I was actually 1st reserve for the final, but we were in it after another competitor was excluded and then we came through the field to win a crazy race. The moral of the story is that you should never give up! I’m very happy with the new PEUGEOT 208 WRX and the result that we so nearly had in Sweden. To be at this level in the 1st race with the car just shows the extraordinary potential for the future, and since then we’ve been working very hard to address some of the things we learned in Sweden. As for Trois-Rivieres, it’s a place that I love: a proper rallycross circuit right in the middle of the town with a fantastic atmosphere. It’s very fast, so you need a good engine, and I think we have that.”
Kevin Hansen, Team PEUGEOT Total driver #71
“Canada is actually a special place for me because it’s where my whole story with PEUGEOT really started: I drove a PEUGEOT 208 RX Lites car for the 1sttime in Canada in 2014, with Red Bull coming on board and me becoming a factory-supported driver. So it was a real turning point in my personal history. It’s strange, because although at 20 I’m still young, I feel that I’m developing a lot of experience in rallycross now and I know the Trois-Rivieres track quite well too, which is so much fun to drive. Obviously in Sweden I started with the initial 2018-specification car, and although I thought it would feel quite similar to the car I had been driving until then, in fact there were a few things that were quite different, especially with the set-up. So Sweden was a bit of a learning experience for me, and by the end I thought that we were really getting somewhere. Now my goal is to continue that progress in Canada: I feel we’re getting better all the time.”
The Trois-Rivières circuit has hosted some of the most famous drivers in the world in the past, including no fewer than 3 members of Canada’s illustrious Villeneuve dynasty, well-known for several generations of professional drivers from those one PEUGEOT driver. Gilles Villeneuve 1st competed there in 1973, while his brother Jacques – also famed for his multiple snowmobile championships – last competed there in 1998. The other (and better-known) Jacques Villeneuve – son of Gilles – who won the Formula 1 World Championship in 1997, took part in rallycross at the ‘’Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres’’ in 2014, driving a privately-entered PEUGEOT 208 WRX. Previously, the same Jacques Villeneuve who drove for PEUGEOT at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2008, finishing 2nd.
WRX ON TV
Rallycross was watched more than 24 million people on TV last year (17 million of them in Europe) – and the numbers are growing steadily. Not only that, but more than 32 million minutes of rallycross footage was watched on YouTube, which combined with Instagram and Facebook adds up to a digital footprint in excess of 34 million views. The main TV broadcasters include L’Equipe in France, Sport TV in Portugal, CBS in the USA, RTBF in Belgium, SVT in Sweden and RDS in Canada.
Watch the race live on RDS TV in Canada, on Sunday August 5thfrom 4PM
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