WRC legend Gronholm to compete in RallyX Nordic opener

World rally legend Marcus Gronholm will race a latest-specification Hyundai i20 Supercar in a 'legends' class at the RallyX Nordic season-opener in Sweden next month

WRC legend Gronholm to compete in RallyX Nordic opener

The two-time WRC champion will drive one of his GRX Taneco team's i20s at the Holjes circuit where he made his victorious rallycross debut in the European Championship in 2008, driving an OlsbergsMSE-run Ford Fiesta. This year, he will share an i20 with son Niclas, who will join fellow World RX drivers like Johan Kristoffersson racing in the Nordic double-header's Supercar category.

The elder Gronholm's last competitive outing, aside from a guest crosskart appearance at the Holjes World RX event last summer, was at Rally Sweden in 2019.

Despite not having driven his team's i20 for any significant period recently, the 2000 and '02 WRC champion conducted part of the early development running for the rallycross iteration of the machine in 2018.

"Last year I was driving [the Hyundai] a little, not so much at all so I don't have so much experience, but in 2018 I did a few tests," Gronholm told Autosport.

"These cars are so much easier to drive than they used to be. Of course if you want to be fast then you need to test more. But, it's not so difficult to just jump into the car. I've been doing some rally car testing, so I think the feeling is there."

Gronholm will take on a number of other ex-top flight rallycross drivers, like 1999 European champion Per Eklund, and former European rallycross event-winners Andreas Eriksson and Stig-Olov Walfridsson.

Other drivers, like former WRC podium-finisher Henning Solberg are expected to compete but are yet to be confirmed.

Despite being reunited with former rivals on track, Gronholm says he is driving only for fun, after his competitive career was effectively ended by a serious accident in a rallycross race at X Games LA in 2012.

"I had promised my wife not to run anything [again] so I had big problems to tell [her] that I'm going to drive, but I'm not going there to do any comeback, it's more for fun, driving around and keeping the car in one piece," he said.

"Of course I'm going to drive as fast as I can, but I'm not having any stress at all. My first ever rallycross race was at Holjes and I won it, that was fantastic, but it was a long time ago now."

A prolific test driver for many top-flight rally programmes in recent years, Gronholm will also be able to use the time at the wheel, on the same weekend as son Niclas, to continue perfecting the i20's setup. The first round of the postponed World RX schedule is expected to take place at the same Holjes circuit in August.

"I think we are quite similar with the setup," he said. "The setup what I want to have, Niclas is running now in his car, it's quite the same for sure."

Over two decades older than Gronholm, 1976 Rally Sweden winner Eklund will turn 74-years old before the Holjes event, where he will make his first competitive start in five years, at the wheel of one of his team's Volkswagen Beetle Supercars.

The Swede has only once raced the Beetle previously, at his home circuit of Arvika in 2015. He will drive the machine used most recently by Pontus Tidemand and Sebastian Eriksson for Eklund Motorsport last year.

"We haven't touched the car really, we have been working on other things, but mechanically is it okay," Eklund told Autosport. "It's just cosmetic stuff really, but we will need to be flat out now to get it ready."

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Series World Rallycross
Drivers Niclas Gronholm
Author Hal Ridge
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