The dark horses for the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship have to be GRX Taneco. Niclas Gronholm and Timur Timerzyanov remain with the team for a third consecutive season in a pair of updated Hyundai i20s.
Gronholm would almost certainly have been in the title fight last year, perhaps even been the champion, after finishing just 25 points behind eventual winner Timmy Hansen despite missing two rounds due to appendicitis surgery.
Of course we’ll never know how Gronholm would have dealt with the pressure and intensity that was through the roof in the second half of the season, but with his cool and calm character and a car which he looked very comfortable in he surely would have been there or thereabouts in the title fight last season.
Young Gronholm has taken a while to find his feet in the rallycross world but it seems that he is getting better and better in every race he competes in.
Racing in July at the opening round of the RallyX Nordic championship in the same car on the same track where the opening round of the World RX season will take place will also have helped his preparation for the upcoming season too.
With such a short season with many races compact in a few months, every bit of testing and track time is pivotal. Johan Kristoffersson and Robin Larsson will also have benefited from racing at Holjes last month too.
Gronholm showed strong pace from the outset and was only let down from poor starts which is a much easier fix than raw car pace. He said after that weekend: “Our main goal here was to get as much mileage in our updated car as possible and to learn how the new updates work in this challenging track and in various weather conditions.“
“From this aspect we had a quite good race and we have a lot of positive to take with us from this to be better prepared for the FIA World RX opening round here.”
As for teammate Timerzyanov, he is now a veteran of the rallycross world. At 33-years-old, 2019 was a minor breakthrough year for the Russian and his experience has been valuable for GRX Taneco.
He isn’t quite a front-runner yet and it will be interesting to see if he is outpaced by Gronholm this year. At Spa last season, Timerzyanov proved that he can still fight for victories after coming out on top in a thrilling weekend to win his maiden World RX event.
The Russian needs to find consistency across the majority of the season on different tracks. If Gronholm can be in championship contention this season, GRX Taneco will be hoping Timerzyanov can help him out with more strong finishes in the championship.
Niclas Gronholm – 3rd
Timur Timerzyanov – 7th