Wednesday 9 June 2021

Grönholm and Szabó join forces to fight World RX title glory.

Niclas Grönholm and Krisztián Szabó will join forces for the 2021 FIA World Rallycross Championship, as the GRX-SET WORLD RX TEAM sets their sights on championship glory. 

Grönholm – the son of two-time FIA World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm - has enjoyed a lengthy career in World RX since making his debut in 2015. He returned for the full 2016 campaign with Olsbergs MSE, before switching to his family-run GRX squad in 2017 behind the wheel of a Hyundai i20 Supercar. 

The team took a significant step forward in 2018, as they progressed to the final on four occasions with a newly developed Hyundai i20, which paved the way for a full title fight the following season. They went on to clinch three wins and four podium finishes, on course to second in the teams' championship standings. 

It's also worth noting that had Niclas not missed two rounds due to appendicitis, he could have challenged for the championship having ended the season just 25 points shy of the drivers' title. He claimed another race win in Kouvola, Finland holding off a fast-charging Kristoffersson to cement a fourth overall spot in the standings. 

The GRX squad used the off-season to test the new developments of their Hyundai i20 entering RallyX Nordic in Höljes. An event that saw Niclas walk away with two wins, whilst newly announced team-mate Szabó claimed a third-place finish. 

The 25-year-old returned for his home round at Ouluzone (Finland) and went on to claim yet another win ahead of three-time World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson. 

Having had a successful test program in RallyX Nordic, GRX-SET World RX Team now has a thorough understanding of how to extract maximum performance from their Hyundai i20 Supercars.

Grönholm admits that he is ready to fight for the biggest prize in international rallycross - the World Rallycross Championship crown. 

"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 have done a lot of experiments with the car and found some good things, as well as some areas to work on," Niclas Grönholm said.

"I expect the competition 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 required at every round to have a chance to win. The events I’m most looking forward to are Sweden and Portugal – the tracks there are so nice – but also the Nürburgring because it’s new for everybody and nobody knows what to expect, which always makes things interesting."

His team-mate in 2021, Krisztián Szabó has enjoyed a lot of success in his junior career. He clinched his first car racing title at the age of 16 in the Hungarian Autocross Championship in 2008. 

He had further success in the FIA Junior Buggy championship in 2009 and 2009, before stepping up to the Buggy1600 category, where he claimed third in the European Championship in 2013. 

2014 saw the Hungarian make the switch rallycross, making his debut in the FIA European Rallycross Championship's Super1600 class. A year later, he claimed a third-place finish in the championship, setting the scene for consecutive Euro RX Super1600 crowns in 2016 and 2017. 

The 29-year-old then entered two Euro RX rounds in 2018 with Mattias Esktröm’s EKS Audi Sport squad with a second-place finish in Lohéac before making the switch to World RX a year later with EKS Sport, and despite a challenging season, he went on to claim tenth overall in the championship. 

Left without a season for the 2020 season, he joined up with the GRX-SET team for the Swedish and Latvian rounds progressing to the semi-finals on both occasions, but in 2021, he will return for the full campaign. 

"I’m very happy that I can continue with this great team, especially under [Team Principal] Jussi Pinomäki, 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 – and it’s really great to work with Niclas; I can learn a lot from him and everyone in the team," Krisztián Szabó said.

"It’s hard to know where we will be, but I’m pretty optimistic that we will be fast this year. My personal aim for the season is to have strong and stable results and to be in the final 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 overall, but I believe we can be very strong contenders this year."

There is no doubt that it has a challenging road trying to secure the necessary funding to compete at World Championship level, due to the current economic climate, but with hard work, the Finnish squad will return in 2021 with one aim in mind, and that is to challenge for the drivers' and teams' championship.

Jussi Pinomäki admits that returning to the championship with Niclas and Krisztián can help the team deliver on their potential. 

“We have worked hard to be able to return this year, and it’s brilliant to do that with Niclas and Krisztián. I think together they can help us to deliver our potential at every event," Jussi Pinomäki, Team Principal, GRX-SET WORLD RX TEAM, said. "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."

Today's announcement means that after three years with Grönholm RX team, Timur Timerzyanov will not return in 2021. 

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