- In contrast to Barcelona, which was more of an asphalt-biased track, with hard-packed gravel, Montalegre features much softer dirt and calls for a very different set-up, especially in terms of the cars’ damping.
- The Portuguese circuit is located near the border with Spain at an altitude of almost 900 metres, which makes it prone to poor weather. WRX’s last two visits there were marked by torrential rain, and competitors even saw snow in 2013! They were greeted by bright sunshine in 2014, however, so how will it turn out this time round?
- Team Peugeot Hansen has used the three-week break since the season’s opener to continue the development of the PEUGEOT 208 WRX 2017. Test sessions at Barcelona, then at Estering, Germany, enabled the team to evaluate new parts which are due to be used competitively very soon.
- Team Peugeot Hansen will have officially-entered 2017-specification PEUGEOT 208 WRXs for Sébastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen in its bid to win this year’s Teams’ and Drivers’ titles, while the young defending European Rallycross Champion Kevin Hansen will continue to familiarise himself with the sport’s premier series in a 2016-spec PEUGEOT 208 WRX.
Kenneth Hansen, Team Principal
“Circuits like Montalegre, which features big kerbs and tight corners, have caused us a few problems these past two seasons. We worked particularly hard on these points during the winter break and I think we are much better prepared for the Portuguese round this time. We should also have some new parts on the cars following the testing work we have done since Barcelona. We will need to be ready for whatever the weather throws at us – even down to team clothing! – and focus on scoring as many points as possible by getting both cars into the final. That will call for some smart thinking both on and off the track!”
Sébastien Loeb (driver, PEUGEOT 208 WRX #9)
“I think the car has improved on this sort of rougher surface since last season and I believe we will be more competitive. In 2017, the weather was appalling, so I hope the conditions will be milder this time round, but that’s by no means a foregone conclusion given the circuit’s location in the mountains. I absolutely need to reach the final this weekend to make up for my result in Barcelona.”
Timmy Hansen (driver, PEUGEOT 208 WRX #21)
“Montalegre is great fun. It’s got some big kerbs but you can settle into a good rhythm. My record isn’t particularly brilliant there, though, and that’s something I want to put right. I feel quite confident thanks to the test programme we got through over the winter. Compared with Barcelona, it’s a different sort of venue, with the emphasis more on the gravel section which calls for different engine, chassis and damper settings.”
Kevin Hansen (driver, PEUGEOT 208 WRX #71)
“It’s always hard to guess what the conditions will be at Montalegre. It’s quite a technical circuit, with a fairly flowing gravel portion and some tall kerbs. You really need to commit if you want to post a good lap time. The switch to the joker lap is just after the start, so it’s more complex for the spotters to come up with a good strategy as the cars are flagged away. It’s quite long and the part where you re-join the normal circuit is pretty tricky because you’re travelling fairly fast as you come out of the joker lap, whereas the other drivers are just exiting a slippery hairpin. You need to keep your eyes open!”
CLASSIFICATION AFTER 1 ROUND
1. Mattias Ekström (Audi S1), 29 points
2. Timo Scheider (Ford Fiesta), 26 points
3. Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Focus RS), 22 points
4. Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Polo GTI), 21 points
5. Petter Solberg (Volkswagen Polo GTI), 19 points
6. Timmy Hansen (PEUGEOT 208 WRX), 17 points
- EKS-Audi, 40 points
- Volkswagen PSRX, 40 points
- Hoonigan Racing Division Ford, 33 points
- MJP Racing Team Austria, 30 points
- Team Peugeot Hansen, 20 points