Speaking with Extreme E, Kevin Hansen gave more details on the injuries he suffered in February’s season-opening Desert X Prix that left him hospitalised and rehabbing for the next few months.
In the Crazy Race for the Desert X Prix in Neom, Hansen roared to an early lead in the JBXE car before switching off to team-mate Molly Taylor. However, an especially hard landing during his furious charge caused him to break his T8 vertebra and bruise his lung. Hansen explained a major factor in the injury came in the seat arrangement.
“Molly had an insert in her seat and I didn’t, and that compression in the final downhill run in Neom meant that my hips were not fully fixed to the seat,” Hansen told Extreme E. “When I moved forward, the weakest point of my body going over any jumps was my back. My hip moved a bit and it compressed my top vertebra, which led to the crack.
“I’ve been through worse compressions previously when competing in rallycross, but just catching the wrong part of terrain at the wrong time was a bit too much and that caused the injury. I experienced huge, incredible pain almost immediately and I knew I had broken my spine straight away. I had no doubt about that. I also heard the crack and it was really loud. I could feel it directly.”
After confirming he still had feeling in his legs, he completed the painful drive to the switching bay. Once Taylor got in, Hansen laid down before medical assistance arrived. JBXE would finish third.
“I jumped out due to all of the adrenaline I guess,” Hansen commented. “I was really scared as I know these injuries are extremely serious. I didn’t know just how bad it was at that time, whether it was fully compressed or something totally different.”
Hansen was airlifted to the King Salman Armed Forces Hospital, North Western Region in Tabuk, where he would rest before starting to walk again. Upon returning home, he began rehabilitation at the Red Bull Athlete Performance Center in Thalgau, Austria.
“Before starting rehab at the Red Bull APC, I made sure I was always walking at home to ensure I was consistently moving whenever I could, so long as I wasn’t in pain. This allowed me to keep the blood flowing and help heal up my back as I wasn’t staying stiff,” he explained. “That definitely helped with my early rehab, while I was in the brace for four weeks.
“There are so many talented people at Red Bull APC, while Red Bull also have their own spinal cord programme with Wings for Life. I knew they would be the best people in the world to work with when it came to recovering from a back injury.”
In April, able to walk on his own power again, Hansen returned to the driver’s seat in his World Rallycross car. Recently, he has participated in Extreme E’s legacy programme in Senegal, where the series’ drivers cleaned up trash that had accumulated on the beaches. The country would have hosted the Ocean X Prix on 7/8 May but was cancelled.
“The next step is to build up my confidence in the car,” Hansen said. “I want to really feel 110 percent confident and get back to my performance levels from before. It is about strengthening those competition points and look at how I can improve things. It is about building up even further my physical and mental strength. I guess it is thanks to this injury that I feel this way.”
JBXE is currently ninth in the standings. The next round, an Island X Prix doubleheader in Sardinia, will take place on 6/7 and 9/10 July.