Tue 09 Apr 2024

Grönholm’s ‘accidental’ route into rallycross

It might seem a strange admission for somebody who has consistently proven himself as one of the world’s leading rallycross drivers in recent years, but Niclas Grönholm says he ‘never really wanted to be a racing driver’.

Grönholm is currently approaching his ninth full season in the FIA World Rallycross Championship – the dual-surface discipline’s top-tier – and his third with CE Dealer Team by Volvo Construction Equipment.

The Finn has finished third in the title table in each of the past three campaigns, and may well have clinched the coveted crown in 2019 had it not been for a bout of appendicitis that ruled him out of two rounds.

As the son of two-time FIA World Rally Champion, Marcus Grönholm – whose father, Ulf, was a double title-winner on the domestic rallying scene – it might be assumed that Niclas was always going to follow in the family footsteps by embarking upon a career of his own in the sport. Not so, he insists.

“I never really wanted to be a racing driver,” the 27-year-old Kauniainen native mused in an exclusive interview with Czech website, Autonoviny.cz. “My dad never pushed me to do any kind of motorsport, and my mum wanted me to stay out of rallying for as long as possible, so that was never really in my plans.

“I got interested in rallycross when I followed my dad for a couple of years in GRC in the US. Normally, when he went rallying, I didn’t travel with him, but when he did rallycross after his rally career, I started to join him on trips and got hooked.

“I entered some grassroots, folkrace-style competitions and kind of accidentally ended up doing rallycross in 2014. I’ve participated in some rallies over the past years too and have always been tempted a little bit, but the choice to go into rallycross rather than rallying was pretty clear for me. My dad enjoys both disciplines and understands that my strengths are probably in rallycross, and he has helped me a lot to achieve my goals.”

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