World Rallycross Championship kicks off under the “king’s” command – Grönholm reaches podium once

Niclas Grönholm is currently second in the RX1 class of the World Rallycross Championship after the first two rounds.
Niclas Grönholm
Niclas Grönholm. Kuva: CE Dealer Team
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The reigning world champion, Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson, won both rounds held in Höljes, Sweden. Kristoffersson, with six world titles to his name, is undeniably the king of the sport.

Finland’s Niclas Grönholm narrowly missed the final on Saturday, finishing just outside the qualifying positions. However, on Sunday, he won his semifinal and secured a front-row start. Despite a good start, the Finnish driver couldn’t overtake Kristoffersson, who, on a muddy and wet track, splashed mud onto the other drivers’ windshields and sped away to victory.

Grönholm was pleased with his flawless performance on Sunday. Strong heat results, a semifinal win, and a second-place finish in the final lifted him from seventh to second in the championship standings after an unlucky Saturday.

“A good start on the asphalt, but when we hit the mud, our car didn’t progress, and I was second off the line. In the rain, we had no chance to fight for the win. Second place was a defensive victory for us,” Grönholm said.

“The track was so slippery that I didn’t know which direction the car would go from each puddle or braking. It was really tough. Today, I scored the maximum points that were realistically achievable.”

Apart from the leader, the results of the Saturday and Sunday rounds were mixed. Defending champion Kristoffersson leads, but the other positions are separated by only a few points.

“To be closer to the points lead, I would have needed a good performance yesterday. The gap to the top grew quite large (22 points) immediately. Kristoffersson doesn’t need to take big risks in the next races, just stay out of trouble and consistently score points.”

The RX1 class season opener on Saturday was held in dry weather. Grönholm faced bad luck during the day. A broken inverter caused him to drop from the lead to last place in the first heat. Starting from the second row in the semifinal, he was on his way to the final until Sweden’s Kevin Hansen collided with his car’s front door on the joker lap, dropping Grönholm to fourth, just 0.2 seconds away from the final spot.

“Saturday showed that I was the only one who could challenge Kristoffersson. We need dry asphalt and gravel to fight for wins. Let’s hope we can drive in dry weather from now on,” Grönholm commented.

The World Rallycross Championship continues with the Hungarian round on 27–28 July.

World Rallycross Championship standings after 2/10 rounds:

1. Johan Kristoffersson (SWE) 58
2. Niclas Grönholm (FIN)      36
3. Klara Andersson (SWE)      36
4. Ole Christian Veiby (NOR)  35
5. Gustav Bergström (SWE)     33
6. Timmy Hanssen (SWE)        31
7. Kevin Hansen (SWE)         29
8. Anthony Pelfrene (FRA)     16

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