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UPDATE: Kevin Hansen wins World RX Abu Dhabi after Gronholm Penalty

WRX

06 Apr 2019

Credit: World RX Media

Kevin Hansen claimed his maiden World Rallycross win after a closely-fought battle with Niclas Gronholm in Abu Dhabi.

Gronholm won on the road but was later handed a three-second penalty for contact with Hansen in the final.

The Hyundai driver recovered from a poor start in his semifinal to win, giving him a front row starting spot for the final alongside top qualifier and fellow semi-final victor Hansen.

Both made a strong start with Hansen holding a slender advantage, and after the first lap both had began to pull away from the rest of the field.

Gronholm proved to be stronger in the tighter sections of the track, but Hansen was able to hold on to the lead thanks to a power advantage on corner exit.

On the fourth lap of the final Gronholm had closed enough to make contact with Hansen as both entered the dirt section. The bump was enough to unsettle Hansen, allowing Gronholm to pass for the lead, which he went onto hold for the final two laps, eventually crossing the line with a gap of more than 2.5 seconds.

Liam Doran finished third to claim his first World RX podium finish and the first for a British driver since Andrew Jordan finished third at Lydden Hill in 2014.

Doran made a strong start to rocket from the back row of the grid right into podium contention, but made contact with Timo Scheider.

After being forced off track by Scheider, Doran took the joker lap on lap one, giving him clear air to rattle off a succession of fast laps. The strategy worked, with him moving back into the podium positions, and within a second of the leading pair by the final lap.

Janis Baumanis was fourth, ahead of Krisztian Szabo, while Scheider finished sixth and well off the pace. The former-DTM driver looked set to claim his first World RX podium since the 2017 season opener but slowed on the final two laps.

Liam Doran’s third place finish was the first podium for a Brit since the championship’s maiden season – Credit: World RX Media

World RX Abu Dhabi final results

1. Kevin Hansen 04:39.467
2. Niclas Gronholm 04:39.946
3. Liam Doran 04:40.195
4. Janis Baumanis 04:41.694
5. Krisztian Szabo 04:43.117
6. Timo Scheider 05:09.084

 

Gronholm was handed a penalty which demoted him to second place – Credit: World RX Media

This story has been updated