The 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship got underway and with high expectations coming into the weekend for GRX Taneco it was a disappointing day for the team.
Niclas Gronholm was disadvantaged with an early race in the opening qualifying session due to the weather, which then set him back for the rest of the day.
With track conditions constantly evolving he fared better in Q2 to win his heat but contact at the first turn in Q3 cost him time and Gronholm could only qualify in seventh position.
Nevertheless, Gronholm was able to follow Johan Kristoffersson in the second semi-final but a stall in the final cost him his chances of the podium as he finished in fourth place.
Gronholm said: “The day started poorly and the pace was not there. I managed to improve later on and even had a good battle with Johan in the Semi-final, but the Final again was a downfall.
“This is obviously not the start of the season I was hoping for, but I secured 18 Championship points and I’ll take that. We will fix the cars tonight and prepare ourselves for tomorrow, when it all starts all-over again.”
His teammate Timur Timerzyanov suffered from misfortune, damaging his suspension in Q1 which resulted in a non finish but fought his way back in the final two qualifying sessions to make the semi-final.
The Russian got stuck behind Sebastian Eriksson in his semi-final and failed to make the final.
“With the new double-header format every mistake can prove costlier than before. I had a damaged suspension in Q1 and was lucky enough to bounce back in Q3 and secure my spot in the Semi-final, so I look back at this day with mixed feelings,” commented Timerzyanov.
“We are still working on the setups, as the car has seen some changes over the long break, and I believe we are close to where we want to be so we can improve for the second round of the season.”
GRX Set‘s Kriztian Szabo won the first race of the new season but it also meant he had the worst of the track conditions. Szabo still managed to make the semi-finals, showing strong pace and he is probably the happiest of the GRX drivers from the opening event at Holjes.
He said: “Even though I was unlucky with the track evolution on the start of the race, I am quite satisfied with my day. I managed to post some good times, be in the fights for positions and start in the Semi-finals.
“Also, now I feel more comfortable with the car in racing conditions and the main focus is already shifted for tomorrow and I hope we can have a better weather and even better result.”
A mixed set of results but ultimately GRX were hoping for more as team manager Jussi Pinomaki reflected: “This day for our drivers was just like a weather, that changed all the time. One car in the finals was not really what we came for, but there is a lot of positive to take from this as well.
“We learned a lot, we know the things we need to work on and we keep that in mind, while preparing for tomorrow’s race. I hope we can come back stronger and more consistent than today.”