City centre racing, hydrogen and local impact projects: Inside Hansen Motorsport’s sustainability vision

City centre racing, hydrogen and local impact projects: Inside Hansen Motorsport’s sustainability vision

The Sustainability Report sits down with Susann, Timmy and Kevin Hansen

For more than 40 years, Hansen Motorsport has been a dominant force in the world of rallycross. Four World Rallycross titles and 19 European Rallycross crowns sit on top of the Hansen family mantlepiece. 

And while sporting success remains a key objective for the team in the years to come, it is also focused on making sure that, in 40 years time, the planet is still a place where the sport of rally, and life in general, is possible.

When Kenneth and Susann established and grew the team in the 1980s, they had no idea that their sons, Timmy and Kevin, would grow up to be world-class rally drivers. But beyond its quality on the road, Susann believes the team’s longevity is down to the fact that it is “not afraid” to try new technologies and approaches, and lead through “beliefs and values”.

Climate action and environmental responsibility is a “huge part” of the team’s culture.

“In our sport, we were the first to focus on the environment,” Susann tells The Sustainability Report. “But we weren’t afraid of doing that because it means something to us. We felt that if we were going to continue racing and having a company, we have to do something that meets our values.”

Since 2020, the team has achieved a number of notable milestones: it became the first rallycross team to sign the UNFCCC Sports for Climate Action Framework, and backed up that pledge by converting its headquarters to run on 100% renewable energy and switching all of its race cars to 100% electric.

The latter, says Timmy, the 2019 FIA World Rallycross champion, are at the centre of the team’s efforts to promote sustainability because of their visibility during races. His brother Kevin, also a serial champion in several rally classifications, agrees that the sport is a “fantastic way” to showcase electric mobility.

“There’s so much power that you’re able to extract from an electric power unit, and it’s incredible that we’re able to showcase that and bring sustainability into the conversation,” says Kevin. “On the global push for more sustainable vehicles, there need to be more platforms to share with consumers, but the performance side of things is just unbelievable and a real step forward.”

Earlier the year, the Hansen team published its first ever sustainability report, demonstrating progress for the year 2023. The transition to electric means that the cars only represent 0.01% of the team’s carbon footprint, although steps are being taken to reduce some of the more carbon intensive areas, such as flights and logistics.

Route planning for shipping and travel is always scrutinised through an environmental lens as well as budgetary considerations. However, most of the report’s content is dedicated to showcasing the work the team is doing around a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, like climate action, responsible consumption and production, and sustainable cities and communities.

When the Hansen Motorsport team was established, only 39% of the world’s four billion population lived in cities. In 40 years time, 68% of a global population of 10 billion will be living in urban areas. In November last year, the World RX championship hosted its first downtown race in Hong Kong, and Timmy believes that more city centre races could support and accelerate sustainable solutions in these parts of the world.

“First of all, it’s an unbelievably entertaining product, bringing off-road racing to the people,” he says. “Going to the people instead of bringing them to us 100 kilometres away is a huge step. You’re going to get so many more eyeballs on the action and people falling in love with it.”

Kevin adds: “I would say that 95% of the people who came to the Hong Kong race had never seen rallycross before, and it was sold out. Everybody came down by the barriers and were sprayed with dirt. They absolutely loved it! You couldn’t do that with the old generation of high emissions vehicles.”

Electric mobility is only one of the solutions the team is exploring, with more sustainable fuels and hydrogen also on the roadmap. Of the latter, Hansen Motorsport has become a member of the Swedish Hydrogen Group, a consortium of 180 companies aiming to scale the technology.

Extreme E, in which Kevin races with partner Molly Taylor for Veloce Racing, will become Extreme H from 2025, with hydrogen powering the off-road vehicles instead of electricity. Susann explains that having a number of different solutions will help “shift us away” from fossil fuels and improve energy security for society.

Supporting nature and biodiversity is an area that Susann would like to explore more with the team, expanding on its long-term partnership with WWF and the adoption of two turtles in South Africa. She is part of an FIA working group looking at the topic and seeing how motorsport can “reduce plastic pollution, more sure the oceans are clean and ensure biodiversity is flourishing”.

Through Extreme E, the team has become friends with Professor Carlos Duarte, a climate scientist and member of the sport’s Scientific Committee. The Scientific Committee oversees a number of impact projects that are set up in race locations, and the Hansen team would like to establish similar projects in the places where they race.

“For many years we’ve been discussing how we can implement more and more race location engagements and potentially even location-specific offsetting projects,” Kevin explains. “We want to see how we can support each country with their challenges and showcase sustainable technologies to make our purpose even more clear.”

Imagine the impact the team could have over the next 40 years if that vision becomes a reality.

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