Hansen, eldest son of 14-time European title-winner Kenneth, has often been underrated since switching from single-seaters to rallycross in 2013.
But he ran Petter Solberg close for the World Rallycross drivers’ title in 2015 and when paired with arguably the greatest rally driver of all time in Sebastien Loeb at the Peugeot-backed works team for three years, there was nothing to choose between the pair.
With the manufacturer exodus from WRX for 2019, several of the big-name drivers left too, but having made it back onto the grid in the private family-run Hansen MJP squad, Hansen began the season as one of the title favourites.
Despite the clash with Andreas Bakkerud at the season-opener in Abu Dhabi that dented his hopes, Hansen won four times in the following eight rounds and headed the standings into the South African finale by a point over Bakkerud, and eight points ahead of brother and team-mate Kevin Hansen.
The elder Hansen sibling then survived the final race incident to finish fourth when Timo Scheider retired mid-race with a problem, drawing level in the standings to take the title on wins countback.
On season-long performance, wins and outright pace throughout the campaign, Hansen is a deserving world champion.
How much of a challenge was it getting onto the grid for 2019?
When Peugeot quit [at the end of 2018], we were left with nothing. I thought that maybe I had done my last rallycross race. But, day-by-day, hour-by-hour, we got closer and then further away and then closer, but we never lost hope. We believed it could be done and in the end, we got there. It was incredible just to get the team together.
You led the championship by a point ahead of the final round, with an almost eight-week gap between WRX events, how was that?
It’s a tough situation knowing that everything would be so tight. In the quiet days when you’re at home in the gap before the race, there are a thousand thoughts going through your mind of what can go wrong in different scenarios, you’re getting ready for the race by thinking about everything. It’s a tough process and it takes a lot of energy.
I qualified on pole for the final and was very confident that I would take the start, so it was a surprise for me that I wasn’t leading. That was not according to my plan and I knew that in that situation, I wasn’t champion. I needed to pass. When Andreas [Bakkerud] made a mistake in Turn 6, I knew what I had to try to do and I went on the inside.
Obviously it [the following incident] went under investigation, but the stewards’ deemed no further action. That felt great because I felt I tried to make an honest pass. It would have been much nicer if I would have just passed him, which I was on the way to do, and won the race. That would have been a better way to end the championship, but still, my name will always be on the trophy.