Niclas Grönholm came within less than 10km of registering his finest rallying result to-date in the opening round of the Finnish Rally Championship.
FIA World Rallycross Championship regular Niclas Grönholm came within less than 10km of registering his finest rallying result to-date earlier this month in the opening round of the Finnish Rally Championship.
Piloting a Škoda Fabia R5 and co-driven by Kristian Temonen, Grönholm was in the mix right from the start of the 103km Riihimäki Rally as he keeps his hand in during the off-season while waiting for the 2024 World RX campaign to begin.
Despite his comparative lack of experience in the discipline, the Finn – son of two-time FIA World Rally Champion, Marcus Grönholm – went fastest of all on stage six and was never outside of the top three in the opening eight speed tests.
Sitting second overall, barely nine kilometres separated Grönholm from a career-best result, but a pace note error on the final stage culminated in a collision with a snowbank, which ultimately ruled him out of contention. Still, the 27-year-old could take plenty of encouragement from his performance as he unquestionably showcased his speed.
“The fans helped us to get out of the snowbank and we were able to get on our way again pretty quickly, but we soon realised that snow had got stuck in the engine bay,” explained the CE Dealer Team by Volvo Construction Equipment star. “That triggered the oil light, and we had no choice but to try to get to the end of the stage at reduced pace.
“I took it carefully while attempting to evaluate the reality of the situation, but the trapped snow unfortunately caused too much damage to the cooling system and we had to retire.
“It was obviously a shame because I felt very comfortable in the car and we were so close to coming away with a really strong result, but that’s how it goes sometimes. In rallying, we all know how costly even the smallest of mistakes can be.”
Grönholm will not have to wait long for a chance to make amends, having lodged an entry for the famous Arctic Lapland Rally on 2-3 February.