Mon 15 Apr 2024

Consistency and a fast start key to title challenge, says Grönholm

Niclas Grönholm has pinpointed greater consistency and a successful start to the season as his two major areas of focus in 2024, as the Finn aims to string together a concerted title challenge in the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

Grönholm has been, to some extent, World RX’s ‘nearly man’ over the past five years. Denied a proper shot at glory by appendicitis in 2019, he finished fourth in the standings that season and the next before improving to third in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride may be the story of his career so far, but the CE Dealer Team star is determined to shake off that tag and take the next step from consistent front-runner to bona fide title contender. And this is how he plans to do it...

“My goal for a long time has been to win the world championship,” Grönholm asserted in an exclusive interview with Czech website “I’ve come fairly close, and been fairly close to the level I want to perform at, but at the same time, I think mostly I’ve got what I deserved.

“Often, it’s been a difficult start to the season and then got better and better, but you have to perform from the first round and score good points throughout the year. I need to be more consistent, and that will hopefully help me in the title chase.

“Johan [Kristoffersson – six-time world champion] obviously has a really good team around him with a lot of experience and they are used to winning, which always helps a little bit, but as a driver, he is able to perform at a good level all the time, which is what he does better than the rest of us – and he rarely makes mistakes.

“Those are the two aspects that I would say set him apart and make him difficult to beat, but like we have seen in the past, he is not unbeatable and there are a lot of drivers on the grid who can win – myself included. Ultimately, I’m not satisfied with finishing second or third – I want to win the championship. That’s why we’re doing this.”

In his bid for glory, Grönholm has been busy over the winter months analysing areas for improvement while keeping his hand in with some rallying outings, which he describes as ‘always good fun and good practice for rallycross’. With just over two-and-a-half months until World RX’s new ‘Battle of Technologies’ races into life at Höljes in Sweden, he predicts a competitive campaign ahead.

“I’m really looking forward to the season,” enthused the Kauniainen native. “This will be my third year with CE Dealer Team, and we are now going to have the (sustainably-fuelled) ICE cars together with the electric ones, which I think is a good addition and a good way forward.

“We get some more cars and more competition, and we’ll get to see what the electric cars are really made of. Of course, we have been comparing them a little bit in the past with the European Championship cars, but now we will all be on the same start grid. With a good mix of circuits on the calendar, there will be some tracks where the electric cars are better than the combustion cars and vice-versa. It’s going to be exciting to see the differences. I can’t wait to get going!”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM