|PHOTO CREDIT: RallyX Nordic.|
The 24-year-old bagged third-place finish in the opening race of the 2020 'Magic Weekend' and finished as top qualifier in the second event - onto to run into mechanical issues.
This year, however, there were no such problems for the Finn who worked throughout the day to find the perfect balance with his Supercar, finishing third in Q1 then matching the result in Q2 after a thrilling wheel-to-wheel duel with Krisztian Szabo and Johan Kristoffersson.
Niclas followed that up with a second-place finish in Q3 after a stunning pass on team-mate Szabo to took the runners-up spot in his semi-final.
|Lars Andersson rolling after a high-speed impact with a grass bank.|
PHOTO CREDIT: RallyX Nordic LIVE coverage.
With a second row slot for the final, Grönholm was forced into a first lap joker due to congestion at turn two but made the most of the clear air and leapfrogged early race leader Sondre Evjen when the latter ran wide at turn one and was forced into a joker of his own.
Contact between Marklund and Szabo slowed the pair, who took their jokers in simultaneously, clearing the way for the Finn to cruise to the checkered flag. Anton Marklund brought his Hedstroms Motorsport VW Polo across the line in second followed by Szabo in third.
But, ultimately, it was Niclas Grönholm in his 2021 specification Hyundai i20 Supercar who came out on top in Höljes.
"It wasn’t the easiest win today - it was nerve-wracking!" he said. "I had the pace to go a little bit quicker but in the end, I knew that those ahead hadn’t taken their jokers so I tried to keep the car in one piece and avoid punctures.
Whilst a race win is always good on paper, Niclas admits that he was not entirely happy with his return to the RallyX Nordic championship.
"The result is good, but I’m not completely happy with it," the Finn added. "We’ve been struggling all day and we need to sit down and find out why. On the bright side, we got the win but there were some tough competitors who didn’t make the final. I hope they will on Sunday so we can have a rematch with Johan and Enzo [Ide] – if we can match their pace, I will be a bit happier."
The action resumes at Höljes with Round 4 of the 2021 season, starting on Saturday (15 May) and concluding on Sunday (16 May), and you can catch it LIVE on RallyX TV.
Written By - Junaid Samodien