1997–2006: DOM­I­NA­TION

Motor Sport News - - Retro: Rallycross At 50 -

One name best de­scribes the sport’s fourth decade. Ken­neth Hansen.

It’s a strange sit­u­a­tion in motor rac­ing that a driver can be al­most hated by fans for re­sults be­ing bor­ing or pre­dictable, but it is oddly in the years fol­low­ing their suc­cess that they are most revered.

In an il­lus­tri­ous driv­ing ca­reer, Hansen won a record 14 Euro­pean Rallycross driv­ers’ ti­tles and seven of those were be­tween ’97 and ’05, in­clud­ing a six-year un­beaten run from 2000.

Hansen be­came one of the first pro­fes­sional rallycross driv­ers to make a liv­ing from run­ning his own car and team in the sup­port cat­e­gories of rallycross, be­fore mov­ing to Su­per­car. He beat some of the greatest in the sport’s his­tory to achieve his suc­cess, in­clud­ing Gol­lop and Schanche. Rally and rallycross star Per Ek­lund was also one of Hansen’s big­gest threats, and won the Euro­pean crown for him­self in 1999 in a self-built Saab 93, while it was an­other Swede, Lars Lars­son, who claimed back-to-back ti­tles in ’06 and ’07 in a Skoda Fabia. His son, Robin, would later claim the 2014 Euro­pean crown with much of the same team around him.

The Euro­pean Championship class struc­ture changed in this decade too. Su­per­car re­mained the pin­na­cle, but a cat­e­gory for Su­per1600 front-wheel-drive ma­chines was in­tro­duced for 2003 to mir­ror the rally cat­e­gory, while what is now known as Tour­ing­car (for two-litre, rear-wheel-drive cars) was in­tro­duced as the RX Cup in 2007. Group N was phased out com­pletely. By then, al­most 20 years had passed since the midst of the Group B glory days, and rallycross went through a slump with­out reg­u­lar TV cov­er­age, that cer­tainly wasn’t live, and poor at­ten­dances at events from both the com­peti­tors and spectators. It wasn’t a prob­lem re­served for the Euro­pean Championship ei­ther, the Bri­tish se­ries also strug­gled. But, there were high­lights. In a Bri­tish Championship event cel­e­brat­ing the 40th an­niver­sary of the sport in April 2007, at Ly­d­den Hill, ex­pe­ri­enced racer Dave Bellerby won the Su­per­fi­nal (the fi­nal race of the day made up of the eight fastest cars from the cat­e­gory fi­nals), beat­ing Su­per­car op­po­si­tion in a rear-drive Lo­tus Ex­ige.

Three years ear­lier, the se­ries’ most dec­o­rated driver, Der­mot Carnegie, wrapped up his sixth crown in a Ford Fo­cus, in 2004.

Carnegie: Bri­tish champ Ken­neth Hansen dom­i­nated

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