The 2021 FIA World Rallycross grid continues to take shape with the addition of yesterday’s announcement that both Niclas Grönholm and Krisztian Szabo will line up for the GRX-SET World RX Team. Son of former WRC superstar Marcus Grönholm, Niclas (25) is a proven star at this level, with three World RX race wins under his belt already. Ever present in the series since 2016, Grönholm has been competing with GRX in a Hyundai i20 since 2018 and has made the trip to the podium five times.
Grönholm is enjoying a hot streak of form recently. He has spent the World RX off-season competing in RallyX Nordic, one of the toughest Rallycross series outside of the International scene. Grönholm boasts three wins from four starts in the competition. Understandably, these results mean that the young Finn is extremely confident heading into the World RX season;
“My hopes for this season are quite simple, to fight for the championship. Last year was difficult but I think we learned a lot and we are going in the right direction at the moment. We did a lot of experiments with the car in RallyX Nordic and found some good things, and also some areas to work on. I also got to drive a lot and race against some fast guys which always helps to get you sharp. I expect the competition in World RX to be similar to the 2019 and 2020 seasons, nothing will be won easily. We will need to be ready to fight and put in the work needed at every round to have a chance to win. The races I’m most looking forward to are Sweden and Portugal, the tracks there are so nice, but also Nurburgring because it’s new for everybody and nobody knows what to expect, which always makes things interesting.”
Marking his first full campaign with the GRX-SET team, Hungarian driver Krisztian Szabo (29) also has a sound World RX pedigree. Like Grönholm, he has been warming up for the upcoming World RX season by competing in RallyX Nordic and came away with one podium from two entries. He is a two-time FIA European Rallycross Champion in the RX3 (formerly Super1600) category. As well as this, he has podium finishes in the top category of European Rallycross to further bolster his credentials. Having competed with the GRX squad in four World RX events last year, Szabo heads into this World RX season happy with his surroundings and keen to get going;
“I’m very happy that I can continue with this great team, especially under Jussi Pinomaki and I’m even more pumped that I can finally play a part in fighting for the teams’ championship. The Hyundai is very good, I love it. It’s hard to know where we will be but it was good to measure myself against some very fast guys in the RallyX Nordic race at Holjes and I’m pretty optimistic that we will be fast this year. It’s really great to work with Niclas, I can learn a lot from him and everyone in the team. My personal aim for the season is to have strong and stable results, to be in the finals as much as possible. After the first few rounds we will know better where we are compared to the others and what we can aim for in the season overall but I believe we can be very strong contenders this year.”
With two confident drivers, both with proven experience and results at the highest of levels in Rallycross, GRX Team Principal Jussi Pinomäki is confident that the team’s hefty aspirations can be met, albeit against tough odds. However, Pinomäki is excited to return to World RX after a long off-season and looks forward to the fans coming along too;
“We have worked hard to be able to return this year and it’s brilliant to do that with Niclas and Krisztian. I think together they can help us to deliver our potential at every race. As Niclas says, nothing comes easy, especially at this level, but I’m very proud of our hard-working team and we will be doing everything we can to achieve the best results possible. Niclas continues to improve with every season, and I have to say I am pleased with the progress that Krisztian has made even from last year. It has been a long gap since Barcelona last season so we can’t wait to be back there again in July, and hopefully sooner rather than later we can be racing in front of passionate rallycross fans once again too.”
The 2021 World RX season will be held over eight rounds at seven circuits, with the season opener at Barcelona, Spain (July 23-24). Team GRX have put themselves in a strong position to fight for top honours from the get-go, time will tell just how the grid will shape up around them.