The 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship has already reached the mid-point of the season after the sixth round of the 2020 revised calendar, and the GRX Taneco team had been wanting to match their pace from Finland last time out.
But, Niclas Grönholm, who got 18 points from Sunday’s round six has lost out more in the championship standing to rivals Johan Kristoffersson and Mattias Ekström.
The weekend in Latvia did not go Grönholm’s way. On Saturday he finished fifth and in the second round a day later he also finished in the same position.
“The quali runs were up-and-down again and starting from the outside didn’t help. I had a quite good start in the Final and came out of the first turn as fourth. I managed to keep up with the frontrunners for a couple of laps, but eventually my tires overheated and I lost the pace,” Grönholm said on his weekend.
“We came here well prepared and with high expectations, but couldn’t capitalize on that. The car was better than in first races of the season, but we still have some work to do.”
Grönholm had some problems in the qualifying sessions although still made it all the way to the final. There he started on the third row, but despite a good start, he did not have enough speed to get involved for the victory battle.
Grönholm was third after five laps, but when he took the joker lap he lost two places and Ekström went on to win the round ahead of Kristoffersson and it was a hard blow for Grönholm in the battle for the World RX title.
With four races left this year, Kristoffersson tops the standings with 17 points ahead of Ekström. Grönholm is still third but is now 49 points behind Kristoffersson and 32 behind Ekström.
Team mate Timur Timerzyanov and the GRX Set driver Krisztian Szabo both had mixed results also on Sunday.
All three GRX cars lined up in the same semi-final, where they had to play it smart and use clever tactics with the joker laps, but both Timerzyanov and Szabo didn’t progress any further.
“P5 in the Semi-final was not the result I was hoping for, especially after the good and clean run in Q2, where I finished 4th, we had a plan for the Semi-final, but it didn’t play out as we anticipated and even though I was driving as fast as possible, it was not enough to proceed to the Final,” a disappointed Timerzyanov added.
Szabo meanwhile had an even worse day. in the second qualifying session his Hyundai i20 caught fire after an intense battle with Kevin Hansen, although the team managed to get it repaired just in time for the last qualifying but Szabo seemed to still struggle with the car.
“I was missing a couple of tenths here and there comparing to yesterday and I can’t really explain why it was like that. Still, I reached the Semi-final and I am satisfied with this result, especially after the thrilling Q2 session,” Szabo commented.
“In Q2 I noticed smoke inside of the car, but I kept going until, on the last lap, when an actual fire came into cockpit and I was forced to stop. Mechanics did an unbelievable job, getting the car ready for Q3, where I set the 5thfastest time.”
“This weekend in Riga was a difficult and sometimes even a frustrating one, but I know that everyone in the team did their best and I am proud of them. For sure we would have wanted a better result, but races in Riga prove the level of the sport and that we have to keep working and improving throughout the whole season,” Jussi Pinomäki, GRX Taneco Team Manager, added.