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